The Father William Most Collection
Evaluation of Commentaries on Scripture
[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]
It is not easy to name one entirely good commentary on Scripture. For the most part, one must be able to sift, that is, to pick out what things are good, and what are not. Not all are able to do that, unfortunately.
l. Jerome Biblical Commentary, first edition. -- Most of the matter in it was sound, but not all. The coverage was thin, trying to do all Scripture in one volume, even if large.
2. Same, 1990 edition. Much valuable data, but need for sifting is still greater than for the original edition. Especially bad is the insistence that Vatican II allows us to say there are errors of all kinds in Scripture, even in religion - only things needed for salvation are protected. Does not do very well on messianic prophecies - if only they had used the Targum - a rather good article on them is included, but on individual prophecies, Targums are ignored.
3. Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, published by Nelson in England in 1969. Similar to original Jerome, but a bit better.
4. Anchor Bible, from Doubleday. Began to appear in 1964-- many volumes, each by different author, Catholic and Protestant. There is one or more volumes for each book of Scripture - not all published at present. There is a long and very scholarly introduction to each volume, then a translation by the author of the volume, interspersed with spot comments, plus broader comments. Quite uneven of course, but in general very solid, provided again one can sift.
5. Expositor's Bible Commentary, edited by Gaebelein, from Zondervan, now complete in 12 volumes. It is definitely evangelical protestant type, and so needs much sifting especially on St. Paul, but there are many good things there, sounder than many Catholic priests. Isaiah is specially good. Gives NIV text, with quite a bit of commentary. Good price from Christian Book Distributors. Box 7000, Peabody, Ma. 0961. Phone 508-977-5040.
6. Navarre Bible -- translation of a Spanish work by Opus Dei scholars. It never breaks with the Church, but is very limited. Preface at start announced it would not try to show how to reconcile difficulties and seeming contradictions. Has quite a bit of comments from Msgr. Escrivá, some useful for devotion. Volumes on Gospels and Acts are rather satisfactory within their scope. Galatians and Romans not so satisfactory, simply does not know how to solve difficult problems in Romans especially - but neither do the major commentaries on some points. In U. S. From Scepter Press.
7. Biblia Commentada and La Sagrada Escritura - both multivolume, in Spanish, quite sound, and very solid on the whole, especially the second one. Both came from Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid, Spain, some volumes now out of print. C/Don Ramon de la Cruz, No. 51- 1a, 28001, Madrid, Spain
8. The Thought of St. Paul-- Now published by Christendom College Press, Front Royal, VA. 22630. Phone 800-877-5456. Gives a new method of solving difficulties others have not solved, but never breaks with the Church. Covers all Epistles, including Pastorals, but not Hebrews. Defends Pauline authorship of all. By Wm. Most. By him also is Free From All Error (Prow Press, Libertyville, Il.), gives an explanation of the new methods of studying Scripture -- approach via genres, Form and Redaction Criticism, and newer radical methods, with examples, good and bad, of each. Defends inerrancy of Scripture at all points. Publisher: 1600 W. Park. Libertyville, Il. 60048. Phone 708-367-7800.
Note: Best English translation is Revised Standard Version, or New International Version. New American Bible is a bit loose, though the revised text of Gospels is improvement. Jerusalem Bible and New English Bible are also a bit loose.