Series Introduction: I live in a small house. I work in a small office in a small church. For those reasons and others I will never have a huge library. When I add a book I almost always remove a book, a practice that allows me to focus on quality over quantity. Over the past couple of years I have focused on building a collection of commentaries that will include only the best volumes on each book of the Bible. I know when I’m in way over my head, so before I began I collected every good resource I could find that rated and reviewed commentaries. I studied them and then began my collection on the basis of what the experts told me. Since I did all of that work, and since I continue to keep up with the project, I thought it might be helpful to share the recommendations.
My focus is on newer commentaries (at least in part because most of the classics are now freely or cheaply available) and I am offering approximately 5 recommendations for each book of the Bible, alternating between the Old Testament and the New. Today I have turned to the experts to find what they say about Jeremiah.
J.A. Thompson – The Book of Jeremiah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament). It appears that Jeremiah is not one of those books where there is clear and unanimous consensus on the top commentary. However, with that said, most of the experts, and especially the more conservative among them, do commend Thompson’s work. It contains detailed historical and exegetical examinations of the book and is suitable for pastors, scholars and general readers alike. It seems like it is as good a place to begin as any. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Philip Ryken – Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope (Preaching the Word). Ryken’s commentary is based on a sermon series he preached through the two books of Jeremiah while senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. His theological perspective is distinctly Evangelical and Reformed. Derek Thomas considers it “a superb expositional commentary” and points out that it includes a helpful index of sermon illustrations. Because it is based on sermons, it would make an ideal resource for someone interested in exploring the book devotionally. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Jack R. Lundbom – Jeremiah 1-20, Jeremiah 21-36, Jeremiah 37-52 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries). Lundbom’s massive three-volume work will satisfy those who are looking for an exhaustive treatment of Jeremiah. Keith Mathison recommends it as “a treasure trove of valuable information.” He goes on to say, “The first volume contains a lengthy introduction dealing with the standard introductory issues of composition and context. Lundbom also deals with the theology of Jeremiah in this introductory section. The bulk of the three volumes is devoted to commentary on the text. Lundbom approaches Jeremiah’s work section by section, with detailed notes as well as section summaries.” (Amazon: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3)
J.A. Dearman – Jeremiah/Lamentations (New International Version Application Commentary). While the NIVAC is an uneven series, the volume covering Jeremiah and Lamentations is regarded as a sound choice for any reader, but especially the more general reader. Tremper Longman says it reflects, “A very sensitive theological reading that also brings these two books into touch with the contemporary world. In keeping with the series, Dearman does not deal with technical issues.” (Amazon)
John L. Mackay – Jeremiah 1-20, Jeremiah 21-52 (Mentor Commentary). The Mentor series regularly receives accolades from conservative and Reformed commentators on the commentaries, but seems to be overlooked entirely by others. Still, Mackay is regarded as an excellent expositor and his two-volume treatment of Jeremiah will prove helpful to anyone who plans to preach through the book. It will be more detailed than some general readers will want, but still not too dense. (Amazon: Volume 1, Volume 2; Westminster Books: Volume 2)
Let me close with a couple of questions: Have you ever preached through Jeremiah? What are your preferred commentaries? Are there some you’ve found particularly helpful for preaching or devotional purposes?
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