Resources for Biblical, Theological, and Religious Studies maintained by Tyler F. Williams

OT Commentary Survey - Pentateuch
There are many good commentaries on the book of Genesis, though with Genesis — perhaps more so than other books — the critical commentaries can focus extensively on matters of historical-criticism. While this may be valuable for questions of authorship and the development of a book like Genesis, it doesn’t often help with the interpretation of the final canonical form of the text. That being said, Claus Westermann’s three-volume commentary is excellent, both for its engagement with the critical questions and matters of interpretation (and Speiser to a lesser degree). I also find Nahum Sarna’s commentary to not only be beautifully typeset, but also rich in its dealing with the Hebrew text and Jewish interpretation. From a more evangelical perspective, Gordon WenhamWenham’s masterful volumes are second to none. While Wenham is more concerned with literary and theological issues, he also engages most critical issues with scholarly responsibility. As such, Wenham is my choice for best overall commentary on Genesis.

Other good critical commentaries include Coats (somewhat limited by the nature of the FOTL series) and von Rad (a classic tradition-history commentary albeit somewhat sparse), while Brodie’s literary analysis is interesting to say the least. For a conservative Jewish perspective on the opening chapters of Genesis check out Cassuto. In addition, for those interested in the history of the interpretation of this book, the volumes in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture by Louth and Sheridan are worthy of careful perusal. Finally, Hermann Gunkel’s ground breaking commentary on Genesis has been recently translated into English by Mark Biddle and is full of many insights for the assiduous reader.

For pastors and teachers, there are ample commentaries to choose from. Brueggemann, Cotter, Fretheim, Gangel, Hamilton, Mahthews, Ross, and Waltke are all good, though I would probably go with Hamilton if you are looking for one solid commentary written from an evangelical perspective. If you want a broader perspective, then both Brueggemann and Fretheim are excellent. While not a full commentary, Alter’s translation is refreshing and his comments are also quite insightful.

More popular-level commentaries include Gowan, Hartley, Janzen, Kidner, Roop and Walton. I have used Roop as a textbook in the past and have quite liked its style and theological substance. I also find the ITCs by Gowan and Janzen quite insightful. And Kidner, of course, always provides solid exposition from an evangelical point of view. I have to say, however, that I have been nothing but impressed with John Walton’s commentary in the NIV Application Commentary Series. While he may be a bit more on the conservative side of the spectrum, his knowledge and engagement of the ancient Near Eastern literary, cultural, and historical background to the book are evident on every page. I highly recommend his commentary for pastors, students, and laypeople alike.


Last Updated on Monday, 27 July 2009 13:50