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Recommended Commentaries and Reference Works in Old Testament

Prepared by H. Wallace, revised December, 2006

The following selection of books on the Old Testament is governed by the Old Testament readings set in the 3 year Revised Common Lectionary. Those geared more toward preaching and bible study are marked by †. For those regularly preaching it is desirable to work toward having both commentaries which deal with technical matters as well as those geared toward preaching etc. for each of the major biblical books in the lectionary.

Abbreviations for major commentary series:

AB - Anchor Bible, Doubleday; AOTC – Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries based mainly on the NRSV text; Int – Interpretation, a commentary for teaching and preaching, Westminster John Knox; ITC - International Theological Commentary, Eerdmans; JPS – The Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary, JPS; NCB - New Century Bible, Eerdmans; NIBC – New International Bible Commentary based on the NIV text; OTL - Old Testament Library, SCM; WeBC – Westminster Bible Companion based mainly on NRSV text; WoBC - Word Book Commentary, Word.

Another major commentary series is Hermeneia. Two other series which provide small but very useful introductions or commentaries to biblical books are Readings: a new biblical commentary  and OT Guides. Both are published by Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield in the U.K.

The Old Testament books that are read most in the lectionary in approximate order of frequency are:

Psalms          Every Sunday A, B, C.
2nd Isaiah     Advent A, B, Christmas A, C, Epiphany A, Lent A, B, C.
1st Isaiah     Advent A, Christmas A, C, Epiphany A.
3rd Isaiah     Christmas A, B, C, Advent B.
Genesis         Pentecost A.
Exodus         Pentecost A.
1 & 2 Samuel Pentecost B.
Jeremiah     Pentecost C.
Job              Pentecost B.
Amos          Pentecost C.
Hosea          Pentecost C.
Various odd places: Deuteronomy, Micah, Ezekiel, Proverbs.

General introductions

Anderson, B.W. with Bishop, S., Out of the Depths. (3rd ed., rev. and expanded; Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000)
Bellinger, W.H.  Psalms: reading and studying the Book of Praises. Peabody, MA.: Hendrickson, 1990
Brueggemann, W.  The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984
Crenshaw, J.L. The Psalms: an introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001

The recommended commentaries are:

Allen, L.C.  Psalms 100-150. WoBC; Waco, TX: Word, Rev. ed. 2002
†Broyles, C.C. Psalms. NIBC; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999
†Clifford, R.J. Psalms 1-72. AOTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 2002
†Clifford, R.J., Psalms 73-150. AOTC; Nashville: Abingdon, 2004
Craigie, P.C., Psalms 1-50. WoBC; 2nd ed. with new introduction by M. Tate; Waco: Word, 2004
† Davidson, R. The vitality of worship: a commentary on the Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998
†Limburg, J. Psalms. WeBC; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000
† Mays, J.L.  Psalms. Int; Louisville: John Knox, 1994
Schaefer, K. Psalms. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2001
Tate, M.E  Psalms 51-100. WoBC; Waco, TX: Word, 1990


† Miscall, P.D. Isaiah. Readings; Sheffield: JSOT, 1993
† Goldingay, J. Isaiah. NIBC; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2001
Childs, B.S. Isaiah. OTL; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001
FIRST ISAIAH  (Isaiah 1-39):
Blenkinsopp, J. Isaiah 1-39. AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 2000.
† Brueggemann, W. Isaiah 1-39. WeBC; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998
Clements, R.  Isaiah 1-39. NCB; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980.
† Seitz,C.R. Isaiah 1-39. Int.; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993.
Wildberger, H. Isaiah 1-12. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991.
Wildberger, H. Isaiah 13-27. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997.

SECOND and THIRD ISAIAH (Isaiah 40-55 and 56-66):

† Achtemeier, E. The Community and Message of Isaiah 56-66. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1982
Blenkinsopp, J. Isaiah 40-55. AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 2002.
Blenkinsopp, J. Isaiah 55-66. AB; New York: Doubleday, 2003.
† Brueggemann, W. Isaiah 40-66. WeBC; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998.
Clifford, R.J.  Fair Spoken and Persuading: An Interpretation of Second Isaiah. New York: Paulist, 1984
† Hanson, P.D.  Isaiah 40-66. Int.; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1995.
† Seitz, C.R.  “The Book of Isaiah 40-66: introduction, commentary and reflections,” in Keck, L.E. The New Interpreter’s Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, vol VI 2001. Pp. 307-552.
Westermann, C. Isaiah 40-66. OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969.


† Brueggemann,W.  GenesisInt.; Atlanta: John Knox, 1982.
† Fretheim, T. E “The Book of Genesis.” The New Interpreter's Bible. L. E. Keck et al. (eds) Nashville, Abingdon, 1994. 1: 319-674.
Hartley, J.E. Genesis. NIBC; Peabody, MA., Hendrickson, 2000.
Janzen, J.G. Genesis 12-50: Abraham and All the Families of the Earth. ITC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.
Rad, G. von, Genesis. OTL; London: SCM, 1972. A classic.
Sarna, N. Understanding Genesis. JPS; New York: Schocken, 1970.
† Towner, W.S. Genesis. WeBC; Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.
Turner, L.A.  Genesis. Readings; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.
Wenham,G.J.  Genesis 1-15. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1987.
Wenham,G.J.  Genesis 16-50. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1994.


Childs, B.S.   Exodus. OTL; London: SCM, 1974.
Durham, J.I.  Exodus. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1987.
† Fretheim, T.E. Exodus. Int.;  Louisville: John Knox, 1991.
† Janzen, J.G. Exodus. WeBC; Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997.

1 & 2 SAMUEL:

Anderson, A.A. 2 Samuel. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1989.
† Brueggemann, W. First and Second Samuel. Int; Louisville: John Knox, 1990.
Klein, R.W. 1 Samuel. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1983.
McCarter, P.K.  1 Samuel. AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1980
McCarter, P.K.  2 Samuel. AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1984


† Brueggemann, W. Jeremiah 1-25. ITC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
† Brueggemann, W. Jeremiah 26-52. ITC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
Carroll, R.P. Jeremiah. OTL; London: SCM, 1986.
† Clements, R.E.  Jeremiah. Int; Atlanta: John Knox, 1988.
Craigie, P.C. et al. Jeremiah 1-25. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1991.
Keown, G.L. Jeremiah 26-52. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1995.

Or if a second rich and generous relative dies
Holladay, W.L.  Jeremiah 1. Hermeneia.  Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986.
Holladay, W.L.  Jeremiah 2. Hermeneia.  Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989.


Habel, N.C.  Job. OTL; London: SCM, 1975
† Janzen, J.G.  Job. Int; Atlanta: John Knox, 1985
Gordis, R. The Book of Job: commentary, a new translation, and special studies. New York : Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1978
Whybray, R.N. Job. Readings; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.


† Achtemeier, E.  Nahum - Malachi. Int; Atlanta: John Knox, 1986.
† Limburg, J.  Hosea - Micah. Int; Atlanta: John Knox, 1988.
Smith, R.L.  Micah - Malachi. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1984.
Stuart, D.L.  Hosea - Jonah. WoBC; Waco: Word, 1987.
Birch, B.C. Hosea, Joel, and Amos. WeBC; Louisville, Ky.: Westminster J. Knox Press, 1997.


† Beeby, H.D. Hosea: Grace Abounding. ITC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989.
Mays, J.L.  Hosea. OTL;  London: SCM, 1969.
Landy, F. Hosea. Readings; Sheffield : Sheffield Academic Press, 1995
Davies, G.I. Hosea. NCBC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
Wolff, H.W. Hosea. Hermeneia; Philadelphia : Fortress Press, c1974.


Coggins, R. J. Joel and Amos. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.
Jeremias, J. The Book of Amos. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998.
Mays, J.L. Amos. OTL;  London: SCM, 1969.
Paul, S.M. Amos. Hermeneia;  Philadelphia: Fortress, 1991.
Soggin, J.A. Amos. OTL; London: SCM, 1987.
An very useful electronic commentary on Amos has been produced by Dr. Tim Bulkeley. It can be found at


† Brueggemann, W. Deuteronomy. AOTC; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001
Craigie, P.C. Deuteronomy. NIBC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.
Mayes, A.D.H.  Deuteronomy. NCBC; Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1979.
† Miller, P.D.  Deuteronomy. Int.; Louisville: John Knox, 1990.
Rad, G. von, Deuteronomy: a commentary. OTL; London: SCM, 1966


Anderson, B.W. The Living World of the Old Testament. 4th ed.  London: Longman, 1988. Also published as Understanding the Old Testament. Prentice-Hall. Abridged 4th edition also available.
Brueggemann, W.  An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. Louisville, Westminster John Knox, 2003
Boadt, L.  Reading the Old Testament: an introduction. New York: Paulist, 1984.
Campbell, A.F. The Study Companion to Old Testament Literature: An Approach to the Writings of Pre-exilic and Exilic Israel. Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1989.
Crenshaw, J.L. Story and faith: a guide to the Old Testament. New York: Macmillan, 1986.

More technical but still readable:

Schmidt, W.H.  Introduction to the Old Testament. 2nd ed.  New York: W. de Gruyter, 1999.
For lay education:
Biggs, C.R. and Catlin, A.L.G. A way into the Old Testament. Melbourne: Uniting Church, 1983.
Charpentier, E. How to read the Old Testament. London: SCM, 1981.


Miller, J.M. and Hayes, J.H. A history of ancient Israel and Judah.  London: SCM, 1986.


The best around is Aharoni Y. et al. The Carta Bible Atlas. Jerusalem: Carta, 2002.
But a more accessible one might be Day, J.  Oxford Bible Atlas. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1984.

For your own exegetical work, especially with the congregation, you need to consider subscription to at least one journal on biblical studies.  It will keep you abreast of trends in the field as well as giving reviews of recent books and commentaries. I would strongly recommend the journal Interpretation. It is specifically devoted to biblical interpretation and successfully combines matters of critical scholarship with theological interest. Each of the four issues in a year is devoted to a particular biblical book, theme or topic. They contain several major articles together with shorter expository articles on biblical texts. The journal concludes with several book reviews. It is very reasonably priced. Write to:

3401 Brook Road
Virginia 23227
Or go to their website:

On the local scene The Australian Biblical Review provides recent technical articles mostly by Australian scholars. It comes out once a year (usually November) and is very reasonably priced. Write to:

The Australian Biblical Review
23 Gareth Dr.
Burwood east VIC 3151
Or email:

Or go to the website: