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 Judges.
Dale Ralph Davis – Judges: Such A Great Salvation (Focus on the Bible). I have said before that I am always glad to find a clear consensus on the best commentary on any book of the Bible. When it comes to Judges, the consensus is that there are two excellent volumes which perfectly complement one another. The first is Dale Ralph Davis’ volume in the Focus on the Bible series. Keith Mathison says it well: “If you can only have one commentary on the historical books, get the commentaries by Davis. There are other commentaries that go into more detail on technical issues (see below), but Davis provides what most Christian readers of these books need — a concise and readable explanation of the text that sets each book within the larger context of biblical redemptive history all without ever becoming boring or trite.” (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Daniel I. Block – Judges, Ruth (New American Commentary, 1999). Tremper Longman, who has not reviewed Dale Ralph Davis’ volume, gives Block’s commentary a 5-star rating and says, “This contribution is clearly the best thing available on the book of Judges. Block is thoroughly aware of all the literature that precedes his own, and he incorporates what is good and criticizes what is bad.” He also praises Block’s insights along with his literary and theological analysis. This commentary is slightly more advanced and in-depth than Davis’. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
K. Lawson Younger Jr. – Judges, Ruth (NIV Application Commentary). Younger’s commentary is considered one of the stronger volumes of the NIV Application Commentary series. The strength of the series tends to be application ahead of original meaning, but Longman points out that in Younger’s case this is reversed so that the section dealing with contemporary significance is not as strong as it might have been. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Michael Wilcock – The Message of Judges (The Bible Speaks Today). The Bible Speaks Today series is one of my favorite “easy-to-read” series and I find it equally helpful for devotional reading and sermon preparation. This volume may not have an abundance of technical commentary, but will apparently be especially helpful for those who are reading devotionally and seeking to meditate on Scripture while drawing personal application. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
Arthur E. Cundall & Leon Morris – Judges & Ruth (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries). Cundall and Morris combined on this commentary with Cundall commenting on Judges and Morris on Ruth. The commentators on the commentaries point to it as a useful volume but one that is superseded by the other four on the list. It is probably not a necessary volume for your collection unless you just need to have a fifth commentary or want to round out the TOTC series. (Amazon, Westminster Books)
I have not found any reviews of Barry Webb’s new contribution to the NICOT series, but suspect it will eventually make the list, probably settling in under Davis and Block (Amazon, Westminster Books).
Let me close with a couple of questions: What are your preferred commentaries on Judges? Are there some you’ve found particularly helpful for preaching or for devotional purposes?
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