Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Protestant Monopoly on Commentaries, Issues and Summary.

The Protestant Monopoly on Commentaries, Issues and Summary
Craig Pointer

I first must start by way of a preface to the title of this short article. To be exact here I am only dealing with New Testament commentaries. Secondly, when I mention "commentary" I mean particularly academic and technical commentaries not "popular" or "lay-friendly" commentaries. This is important to keep in mind.

Now that we have that out of the way we can devise what is being said here now. Let me post a short "top five" list of my personal "favorite" commentaries (academic) of the various books of the NT. This will give a better picture of what we are talking about.


[1]. W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel

According to Saint Matthew (3 vols. ICC; 1988-97). Protestant critical.

[2]. R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew (NICNT; 2007). Protestant conservative.

[3]. U. Luz, Matthew (3 vols. Hermeneia; 1989-2005). Protestant critical.

[4]. D. L. Turner, Matthew (BECNT; 2008). Protestant conservative.

[5]. D. A. Carson, Matthew (2 vols. EBC). Protestant conservative.


[1]. R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark (NIGTC; 2002). Protestant conservative.

[2]. F. J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary (Hendrickson, 2002). Catholic


[3]. J. Marcus, Mark (2 vols. AB; 2000, 09). Protestant moderate.

[4]. R. H. Stein, Mark (BECNT; 2008). Protestant conservative.

[5]. A. Y. Collins, Mark: A Commentary (Hermeneia; 2007). Catholic critical.


[1]. J. A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke (2 vols. AB; 1981, 85). Catholic moderate.

[2]. F. Bovon Luke (Multi-vol. 1 vol thus far, Hermeneia, 2002). Protestant critical.

[3]. L. T. Johnson, The Gospel of Luke (Sacra Pagina; 2006). Catholic moderate.

[4]. J. Nolland, Luke (3 vols. WBC; 1989-93). Protestant conservative.

[5]. I. H. Marshall, Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; 1978).

Protestant moderate.


[1]. R. E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (2 vols. AB: 1966, 70). Catholic moderate.

[2]. John McHugh, John (Multi-vol. 1 vol thus far, ICC; 2009). Protestant moderate.

[3]. R. Schnackenburg, John (4 vols. HKNT; 1968-82). Catholic critical.

[4]. U. C. von Wahlde, Gospel of John (Multi-vol. ECC; 2009). Protestant critical.

[5]. F. J. Moloney, The Gospel of John (Sacra Pagina: 1998). Catholic moderate.


[1]. J. A. Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles (AB; 1999). Catholic moderate.

[2]. C. K. Barrett, Acts (2 vols. ICC; 1994, 99). Protestant moderate.

[3]. R. Pervo, Acts: A Commentary (Hermeneia: 2008). Protestant critical.

[4]. D. G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (PNTC; 2009). Protestant conservative.

[5]. F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts (NICNT; 1988). Protestant conservative.


[1]. J. A. Fitzmyer, Romans (AB; 1993). Catholic moderate.

[2]. P. Jewett, Romans: A Commentary (Hermeneia; 2006). Protestant moderate.

[3]. C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the

Romans (2 vols. ICC; 1975). Protestant moderate.

[4]. E. Kasemann, Commentary on Romans (Eerdmans; 1994). Protestant critical.

[5]. D. J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; 1996). Protestant conservative.

1 Corinthians

[1]. J. A. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians (AB; 2009). Catholic moderate.

[2]. A. C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NIGTC; 2000). Protestant


[3]. W. Schrage, First Corinthians (3 vols. EKKNT; 1991, 95, 99). Protestant critical.

[4]. R. F. Collins, First Corinthians (Sacra Pagina; 1999). Catholic moderate.

[5]. G. D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; 1987). Protestant


2 Corinthians

[1]. M. J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NIGTC; 2004). Protestant


[2]. M. E. Thrall, Second Epistle to the Corinthians (2 vols. ICC; 1994). Protestant


[3]. F. J. Matera, II Corinthians (NTL; 2003). Catholic moderate.

[4]. J. Lambrecht, Second Corinthians (Sacra Pagina; 2007). Catholic moderate.

[5]. P. Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; 1997). Protestant



[1]. J. L. Martyn, Galatians (AB; 1997). Protestant moderate.

[2]. F. J. Matera, Galatians (Sacra Pagina; 2007). Catholic moderate.

[3]. D. Luhrmann, Galatians (CC: 1992). Protestant critical.

[4]. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians (NIGTC; 1982). Protestant conservative.

[5]. R. Longenecker, Galatians (WBC; 1990). Protestant conservative.


[1]. E. Best, Ephesians (ICC; 1998). Protestant moderate.

[2]. R. Schnackenburg, Ephesians (2001). Catholic critical.

[3]. A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC; 1990). Protestant moderate.

[4]. M. MacDonald, Ephesians (Sacra Pagina: 2000). Catholic moderate.

[5]. F. F. Bruce, Ephesians (NICNT; 1984). Protestant conservative.


[1]. J. Reumann, Philippians (AB; 2008). Protestant moderate.

[2]. P. T. O’Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians (NIGTC; 1991). Protestant


[3]. B. Thurston and J. Ryan, Philippians (Sacra Pagina; 2003). Catholic


[4]. G. W. Hansen, The Letter to the Philippians (PNTC; 2009). Protestant


[5]. G. D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (NICNT; 1995). Protestant


Colossians and Philemon

[1]. R. M Wilson, Colossians and Philemon (ICC; 2005). Protestant moderate.

[2]. J. D. G. Dunn, The Epistle to the Colossians and Philemon (NIGTC; 1996).

Protestant moderate.

[3]. M. Y. MacDonald, Colossians and Philemon (Sacra Pagina; 2008). Catholic


[4]. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Colossians and Philemon (NICNT; 1984). Protestant


[5]. D. J. Moo, The Letter to the Colossians and Philemon (PNTC; 2008). Protestant


1 and 2 Thessalonians

[1]. G. D. Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (NICNT; 2009).

Protestant conservative.

[2]. A. J. Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians (AB; 2000).

[3]. E. J. Richard, First and Second Thessalonians (Sacra Pagina: 1995). Catholic


[4]. F. F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians (WBC; 1982). Protestant conservative.

[5]. C. A. Wanamaker, The Epistle to the Thessalonians (NIGTC; 1990). Protestant


Pastoral Epistles

[1]. L. T. Johnson, The First and Second Letters to Timothy (AB; 2001). Catholic


[2]. I. H. Marshall, Pastoral Epistles (ICC; 2000). Protestant moderate.

[3]. R. F. Collins, First and Second Timothy and Titus (NTL; 2003). Catholic


[4]. W. D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (WBC; 2000). Protestant conservative.

[5]. B. Fiore, Pastoral Epistles (Sacra Pagina; 2003). Catholic moderate.


[1]. H. Attridge, Hebrews (Hermeneia; 1989). Catholic critical.

[2]. L. T. Johnson, Hebrews (NTL; 2006). Catholic moderate.

[3]. P. T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews (PNTC; 2010). Protestant conservative.

[4]. A. Mitchell, Hebrews (Sacra Pagina; 2007). Catholic moderate.

[5]. C. Koester, Hebrews (AB; 2001). Protestant moderate.


[1]. L. T. Johnson, James (AB; 1995). Catholic moderate.

[2]. R. P. Martin, James (WBC; 1989). Protestant moderate.

[3]. P. J. Hartin, James (Sacra Pagina; 2003). Catholic moderate.

[4]. D. G. McCartney, James (BECNT; 2009). Protestant conservative.

[5]. P. H. Davids, The Epistle of James (NIGTC; 1982). Protestant conservative.

1 Peter

[1]. J. H. Elliott, 1 Peter (AB; 2001). Protestant moderate.

[2]. P. J. Achtemeier, A Commentary on 1 Peter (Hermeneia; 1996). Protestant


[3]. R. Michaels, 1 Peter (WBC; 1988). Protestant conservative.

[4]. P. H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter (NICNT; 1990). Protestant conservative.

[5]. D. P. Senior, 1 Peter (Sacra Pagina; 2002). Catholic moderate.

2 Peter and Jude

[1]. J. Neyrey, 2 Peter, Jude (AB; 1993).

[2]. A. Vogtle, 2 Peter, Jude (EKKNT; 1994).

[3]. R. J. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter (WBC; 1983). Protestant moderate.

[4]. G. L. Green, Jude and 2 Peter (BECNT; 2008). Protestant conservative.

[5]. P. H. Davids, The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude (PNTC; 2006). Protestant


Johannine Epistles

[1]. R. E. Brown, The Epistles of John (AB; 1982). Catholic moderate.

[2]. G. Strecker, The Johannine Letters (Hermeneia; 1996). Protestant critical.

[3]. J. Painter, 1, 2, and 3 John (Sacra Pagina; 2002). Catholic moderate.

[4]. R. Schnackenburg, The Johannine Epistles (1992). Catholic critical.

[5]. R. W. Yarbrough, 1-3 John (BECNT; 2008). Protestant conservative.

The Apocalypse

[1]. D. E. Aune, Revelation (3 vols. WBC; 1997-98). Protestant moderate.

[2]. G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation (NIGTC; 1999). Protestant conservative.

[3]. H. Giesen, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (Putset, 1997). Protestant moderate.

[4]. W. J. Harrington, Revelation (Sacra Pagina; 2008). Catholic critical.

[5]. R. H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (NICNT; 1997). Protestant moderate.


What are the statistics that we see across the board? That with a few exceptions (and mostly from entries from the excellent Yale Anchor Bible Series, Hermeneia (Collins - Mark), Sacra Pagina) the technical commentaries are dominated by Protestant scholarship. The reason behind this is easy to understand. Protestants devoted to the principle of sola Scriptura give primary emphasis on Scripture and hence it is no surprise that they should dominate the field. Non-Protestants such as Catholics and Orthodox can have their attention's focused elsewhere - such as liturgy and ecclesiastical writings.

In fact, now that I think of it most biblical academics that I can think of happen to be Catholic. People such as, Jerome Neyrey (Notre Dame), R. E. Brown (Union Theological Seminary), J. A. Fitzmyer, Luke Johnson (Emory University), Thomas Tobin (Loyola Chicago), Margaret MacDonald (St. Francis Xavier), Gerald Fogarty (University of Virginia), Robert Daly (Boston College), Aiden Nichols (Cambridge), Ian Ker (Oxford), Boudewijn Dehandschutter (Leuven), Thomas Weinandy (Oxford), Jerome Murphy-O'Connor (Ecole Biblique - Jerusalem), Jeffrey Gros (Memphis Theological Seminary), Thomas Rausch (Loyola), William Harmless (Creighton University), Rudolf Pesch (Bonn), Ceslas Spicq, Frank Matera, Johannes Quasten (Freiburg), Avery Dulles (Fordham), Edmund Fortman (Loyola), Felix Just (Loyola), Francis Beckwith (Baylor), Xavier-Leon Dufour, David Power (Catholic University of America), John Galvin (Catholic University of America), Edward Schillebeeckx (Catholic University - Nijmegen), Donald Senior, Bernard Lonergan (Boston College), Ladislas Orsy (University of Fribourg), Harold Attridge (Yale), John Meier (Notre Dame), John Collins (Yale), Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza (Harvard), Adela Collins (Yale), Edward Kilmartin (Pontifical Oriental Institute - Rome), Rene Laurentin (Catholic University Angers), are but the tip of the intellectual academic Catholic iceberg. I can go on and on and on. All of this is to say that the Catholic tradition (not even mentioning the many experts in Orthodoxy) definitely more than has the capacity to be cranking out tome after tome of NT technical commentaries.1

We have discussed already that for the Catholic (and Orthodox) mind biblical commentaries are not first priority. We get our biblical interpretations "given" to us as it were through the various "official" Church bodies. In contrast the Protestant reader has to discover for him/herself through "independent" research (reading other Protestant commentaries) what is biblical interpretation. I believe neither of these two positions alone can be best choice for biblical interpretation. But rather studying the best academic commentaries (from all the theological stances) along with Church traditional reading would equip best the student of Scripture.

We do need the great pool of talent in the Catholic (and Orthodox) tradition to "step it up" a bit and publish more technical commentaries.


1 Tongue in cheek I point out this magnificent "monopoly" of the best academic biblical posts throughout the Universities of higher learning by Catholics (throughout the planet). Which Protestant denomination can claim this sheer number of posts?

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