Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament in Logos Bible, reviewed (part 1)
Something I immediately appreciated about the Baker Exegetical Commentary set is its clear statement of purpose in the Series Preface, found in each of the 15 volumes published so far:
The chief concern of the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) is to provide, within the framework of informed evangelical thought, commentaries that blend scholarly depth with readability, exegetical detail with sensitivity to the whole, and attention to critical problems with theological awareness. We hope thereby to attract the interest of a fairly wide audience, from the scholar who is looking for a thoughtful and independent examination of the text to the motivated lay Christian who craves a solid but accessible exposition.
This is an ambitious set of aims for a single commentary, but BECNT pulls it off nicely. The series also has pastors and teachers in view:
Nevertheless, a major purpose is to address the needs of pastors and others involved in the preaching and exposition of the Scriptures as the uniquely inspired Word of God. This consideration affects directly the parameters of the series. For example, serious biblical expositors cannot afford to depend on a superficial treatment that avoids the difficult questions, but neither are they interested in encyclopedic commentaries that seek to cover every conceivable issue that may arise. Our aim therefore is to focus on problems that have a direct bearing on the meaning of the text (although selected technical details are treated in the additional notes)
I am a member of the target audience(s) noted above, and I’ve found it a really beneficial resource for preaching or just in-depth personal study of a passage.
I’ve reviewed Logos resources before, and as with just about anything else in the Logos library, you can link a Bible text with the commentary (see here) so that they scroll in tandem. As here (click to enlarge):
You can also have the contents open in the left navigation bar, so you can see where you are in the commentary. This makes for easy moving around, if I want to skip ahead, for example, to a later portion of the commentary.
Here are a few more things to point out, which are visible in the above:
- The Greek appears both in Greek font and transliterated throughout (“ἐγένετο (egeneto)”)
- The verse references in the second and third lines above (“cf. 1:9; 2:23; 4:10; 11:19; 15:23; cf. also 1:11; 2:27; 4:4, 22, 39; 6:14; 9:3, 7 [2×], 26”) are all hyperlinked, so that you can click to go to that verse or (my preferred method) hover over for a popup of each verse
- As you can see in the second paragraph on Mark 1:4 above, Robert H. Stein brings in historical and cultural background to explain the passage at hand. This is present throughout the series.
- Other relevant literature is mentioned, with hyperlinks to those resources (if you own them) in Logos
Each passage follows this basic outline (and may add to it, depending on the passage or volume). I’ll use a passage in Romans 4 as an example:
- Introductory comments. These are highlighted with a gray shaded box, both in the print editions and here, too, in Logos. This tends to focus on the passage’s context, especially as it connects to the rest of the biblical book.
- Exegesis and Exposition. This is the comment part of the commentary. There is first the author’s original translation for a given passage, followed by verse-by-verse (or verses-by-verses) exposition on the meaning, setting, and import of the passage.
- Summary (only some volumes). The passage summary is also in a gray shaded box. This is actually not a bad starting point for looking at a section of a biblical book. Preachers and teachers, especially, will want to make use of this section as they consider how to go from text to sermon. This section is not present in every volume (e.g., Romans, 1 Corinthians, 1-3 John).
- Additional Notes. This is more technical, and tends to focus on further grammatical detail in Greek, or on the textual variants in a given passage. In the author’s original translation (at the beginning of #2 above), half brackets around a word indicate that it receives further treatment in the Additional Notes section.
Given Logos’s generally extensive system of hyperlinks, I had expected that the half-brackets would be hyperlinked so you could quickly go to (or see as popup) the Additional Notes. Unfortunately, they do not. This would be a good improvement for future updates of this module in Logos.
One small touch which makes for a good user experience is that even though each of the 15 volumes in this set is its own “book” in Logos, if you scroll past the end of Mark, for example, the same single tab goes right to the Luke volume. In other words, you don’t have to have a bunch of tabs open for individual volumes–you can just use one and it will update as you search, scroll through, etc.
You can see a pdf of how Darrell L. Bock handles a well-known passage in Acts here.
I’ve been impressed with this series so far. I’ve preached on Luke a couple times this summer and will be preaching on it through the fall; Bock’s massive two-volume contribution to this series is a must-read when going through Luke.
Next time I’ll comment on using BECNT in the iOS app by Logos.
Many thanks to Logos Bible Software for the review copy of the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, given to me for the purposes of review, but with no expectation as to the content of my review. Baker’s product pages for the series (print version) is here.