Monday, October 19, 2009

Commentaries on Daniel

At present I am preaching through the book of Daniel on Sunday evenings. In preparing these sermons, I have consulted a number of commentaries. Commentaries, of course, can be divided into the technical and the expository. There is a certain amount of overlap, of course. The commentaries are, in the order they came off the shelf:

1. Stuart Olyott: Dare to Stand Alone (Evangelical Press). Subtitled Daniel Simply Explained, this is a plain exposition by an excellent Reformed preacher. It is one of the books that a preacher ought to consult on Daniel.

2. Sinclair B. Ferguson: Daniel (Thomas Nelson). This is a volume in The Preacher's Commentary, recommended to me by Pastor Richard Wigham of Tabor Baptist Church, Llantrisant. He also said that in his opinion this is probably the only volume in the series worth reading. Not having read any other volumes in the series, I can't comment. This is a very good volume, though. Like Olyott, this is an expository commentary.

3. Iain M. Duguid: Daniel (Presbyterian and Reformed). This is a volume in the Reformed Expository Commentary. This is a much better series. Like the two previous volumes, this is an expository commentary. One useful thing about consulting several such commentaries is that they show how three excellent preachers have treated the book, all differing slightly in what they say.

4. Joyce G. Baldwin: Daniel (IVP). From the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series. I'll be honest, I got this for a pound in a secondhand bookshop. It is a more technical commentary, but small and useful in its way.

5. Edward J. Young: Daniel (Banner of Truth). An excellent commentary from the old Princeton tradition, first published in 1949. This is another technical commentary. It deals with the objections of the liberals in a masterful way.

6. Allan M. Harman: Daniel (Evangelical Press). A volume in the EP Study Commentary series. This is a mid-level commentary in a series that is intended for those who want to go into the text more deeply. I gave it a very good review for Peace and Truth magazine, though to be honest it can be given a miss if you possess all the rest of the commentaries I have referred to.

7. Ernest C. Lucas: Daniel (IVP/Apollos). In the Apollos Old Testament Commentary series. This is a very useful modern technical commentary. It contains much useful material.

8. Matthew Henry: Commentary (various editions). This is one of the classics of all time. Henry's ability is well known.

9. John Gill: Commentary (various editions). More technical than Henry, Gill combines deep learning with a thoroughly orthodox understanding.

10. Albert Barnes: Notes on Daniel (Blackie). To be honest, I find Barnes rather too in-depth for sermon preparation, where the aim is to get an overview of the whole passage, not to examine all the little details. But Barnes is very good.

11. Adam Clarke: Commentary (Tegg). Clarke is the great Wesleyan expositor, the Arminian version of Dr. Gill. There is a great deal of learning in Clarke, though he has some funny ideas in places. He usually has something to say worth reading, though.

12. Joseph Parker: The People's Bible (Hazell, Watson and Viney). The People's Bible is actaully a series of sermons through the Bible. The date in my copy is 1892. Parker does not cover every part of every chapter, and sometimes his sermons miss the main point of the text, but at least as often he gets the point. Parker was known as "the immortal Thor of pulpitdom", and consulting the treatment given a text by such a noted preacher is usually useful. I actually got this 25-volume set (Old and New Testament) for free at my seminary.

I have an unusually large number of modern commentaries on the book of Daniel. The proportions concerning a book like John's Gospel is a little more representative, being two modern commentaries to three old ones specifically on that book as well as the old standards listed above. Plus Calvin.
[Illustration: A bookkcase full of commentaries. From top left: Matthew Henry, The Expositor's Greek Testament, E.J. Young's Introduction to the New Testament, The People's Bible, Matthew Poole, etc., etc.]

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