Westcott’s Commentaries

I previously mentioned a biography I had of Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901) and his work on the Revised Version. Although he is known primarily for his Greek New Testament that he edited with Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892), Westcott, contrary to Hort, was quite the writer. I want to focus here on just his commentaries, of which there are four: Gospel of John, Ephesians, Hebrews, and the Epistles of John.

The Gospel According to St. John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes (1880) originally appeared in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611): With an Explanatory & Critical Commentary & a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops & Other Clergy of the Anglican Church (known as the Speaker’s Commentary), edited by F. C. Cook (1804-1889). It was published separately in 1882 by John Murray. Regarding the few changes that were made, Westcott says: “I have corrected a few misprints, defined more exactly a few references, and changed two or three words and phrases which seemed liable to misapprehension. I have not however felt at liberty to make any other alterations or additions.” I own a copy of the “eighteenth impression” of 1937. Not sure if it was issued with a dust jacket. After Westcott’s death, The Gospel According to St. John: The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes (John Murray, 1908) was published in two volumes. It is based on the Westcott and Hort Greek text and the Revised Version. The prefatory note after the title page by Westcott’s son Arthur explains the differences between this and the 1882 volume on John.

Westcott’s commentary on Ephesians was also published posthumously: Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (Macmillan and Co., 1906) was edited by and issued with a preface by J. M. S[Schulhof]. I own the Klock and Klock reprint of 1978 with with a foreword by Cyril J. Barber.

The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays was published by Macmillian in 1889. A second edition, which, according to Westcott, “is essentially a reprint of the former one,” was issued in 1892. I own the Eerdmans 1973 reprint.

The Epistles of St John: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays was published by Macmillian in 1883. A second edition, with some revision of the notes, but no changes in interpretation, was issued in 1885. A third edition, with some corrections, was issued in 1892. I own the Eerdmans 1957 reprint.

These commentaries, even without the Greek, are not light reading. The original commentary on John, since it is based on the Authorized Version and contains little Greek, is worth having. The others are only good as supplements to more modern commentaries, and then only when doing some serious, in-depth study. All of Westcott’s commentaries should be readily available online and from used book dealers.

Galatians Commentaries

Regarding my 200+ commentaries on Galatians, I have a few times been asked which ones are the best. This is a tough question. I suppose that if someone put a gun to my head and said that I could keep five of my commentaries on Galatians but had to throw the rest of them away, then these (not in any order) are the five that I would keep. I would definitely include the newest Galatians commentary that I own, Galatians: A Commentary (Baker Academic, 2019), by Craig S. Keener, one of my favorite commentators and authors. Keener references my work on Galatians in a brief footnote on page 66, which also means that I made the bibliography and index. I would also keep the following by two of my favorite commentators: Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Eerdmans, 1998), by Ben Witherington III; and Galatians in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (Baker Academic, 2013), by Douglas J. Moo. The fourth one would have to be Galatians in the Word Biblical Commentary series (Word Books, 1990), by Richard N. Longenecker. This incomplete series is now published by Zondervan, which is working on completing the series. Last, but certainly not least, is The Epistle to the Galatians in the  New International Commentary on the New Testament series (Eerdmans, 1988), by Ronald Y. K. Fung. This is the replacement volume for the original NICNT volume on Galatians in 1953 by Herman N. Ridderbos that was translated from the Dutch. Fung’s work has itself been replaced by that of David A. deSilva, The Letter to the Galatians (Eerdmans, 2018). This is a much larger and more up-to-date volume, but I have not had a chance to look through it yet. It may turn out that it belongs in my top five list.

Notre Dame University Press

I received an e-mail recently from Notre Dame University Press informing me of a summer 40 percent off sale. Unlike some of the other e-mails I have received from publishers this month, there was no mention of Pride Month. However, one of the forthcoming books being promoted is Gay, Catholic, and American: My Legal Battle for Marriage Equality and Inclusion, by Greg Bourke, scheduled for release in September. Because Notre Dame is a Catholic university, it is to be expected that its press publishes books like Queen of Heaven: The Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin in Early Modern English Writing (2018), by Lilla Grindlay; and Mary’s Bodily Assumption (2014), by Matthew Levering. I reviewed another book of Levering, one that he wrote with evangelical Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Was the Reformation a Mistake? Why Catholic Doctrine Is Not Unbiblical (Zondervan, 2017), in the Spring 2018 issue of the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (pp. 103-106). But Notre Dame University Press also publishes hundreds of books that can broadly be considered religious that are not about Catholicism. The problem, however, is that the vast majority of them aren’t worth reading either.

The only two books on my shelves published by Notre Dame University Press that I know I still have are The Sword of the Lord: Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Century (2004), edited by Doris L. Bergen; and St. Jerome’s Commentaries on Galatians, Titus, and Philemon (2010), translated by Thomas P. Scheck, Associate Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University in Florida, and a brilliant scholar. I also have Erasmus’s Life of Origen: A New Annotated Translation of the Prefaces to Erasmus of Rotterdam’s Edition of Origen’s Writings (1536), translated with commentary by Scheck (The Catholic University of America Press, 2016); and Origen’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, translated by Scheck (The Catholic University of America Press, 2009, 2012). Notre Dame University Press also publishes Scheck’s Origen and the History of Justification: The Legacy of Origen’s Commentary on Romans (2016), but I haven’t gotten a copy yet. I did purchase and read Creation ex nihilo: Origins, Development, Contemporary Challenges (2017), edited by Gary A. Anderson and Markus Bockmuehl, soon after it was published, but it was a huge disappointment, so I got rid of it. Notre Dame University Press publishes The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (1989), by Beryl Smalley (1905-1984), but the copy I have is the 1952 second edition published by Basil Blackwell.

There are only two other religious books published by Notre Dame University Press that might be worth reading. First there is American Evangelicalism: George Marsden and the State of American Religious History (2014), edited by Darren Dochuk, Thomas S. Kidd, and Kurt W. Peterson. Marsden is the respected historian of American church history. I have his Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism (Eerdmans, 1987), with an important new preface by the author; and his Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Eerdmans, 1991). I thought for sure I had his Fundamentalism and American Culture (2nd ed., Oxford, 2006), but can’t seem to find it. The second book is Hell: The Logic of Damnation (1992), by Jerry L. Walls, a Protestant scholar. I have his Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things That Matter Most (Brazos Press, 2015), and his Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation (Oxford, 2012), but not his Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy (Oxford, 2002).

Regarding the non-religious titles published by Notre Dame University Press, I note that several volumes by Solzhenitsyn are available. If you don’t know who he is, then you should, and I suggest that you look him up. Statehood and Union: A History of the Northwest Ordinance (2019), by Peter S. Onuf, looks important to the study of American history, but is not high on my reading list. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Notre Dame publishes Twilight of the American Century (2018), by Andrew J. Bacevich. Beginning with his The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Oxford, 2005), which I think was his second book, and is one of his best, I have read almost everything he has written, and highly recommend all of his books. Rubbish or worthless is all I can say about the vast majority of the other non-religious books published by Notre Dame University Press.

HarperCollins Publishers

A recent marketing e-mail I received from HarperCollins Publishers prompts me to discuss this publisher at this time. HarperCollins is the second largest publisher in the world. It has “publishing operations in 17 countries” and “more than 120 branded imprints around the world.” The company “publishes approximately 10,000 new books every year in 16 languages, and has a print and digital catalog of more than 200,000 titles.” It was founded by the Harper Brothers in 1817. I have several old books about the Bible in my library published by Harper & Brothers or its later incarnation, Harper & Row:

  • Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (4th ed., 1939), by Frederic Kenyon
  • The Greatest English Classic: A Study of the King James Version of the Bible and Its Influence on Life and Literature (1912), by Cleland Boyd McAfee
  • The Ancestry of Our English Bible (3rd ed., 1956), by Ira M. Price

Harper was also the publisher of the last two editions of A. T. Robertson’s A New Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament. News Corp acquired Harper in 1987 and William Collins, Sons in 1990, combining their names to create HarperCollins. In keeping with the nature of The Preacher’s Library, what we are interested in is religious books published by HarperCollins. Are there any, and if so, are any of them worth reading? It should first be noted that HarperCollins is the parent company of the Christian publishers Zondervan and Thomas Nelson. They are under the umbrella of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and I will discuss them in future posts.

Clicking on the category “Religion and Inspiration” on the HarperCollins website returns 1,491 results. As you can imagine, most of it is garbage, like My Spiritual Journey, by the Dalai Lama. The main imprint of HarperCollins for religious books is HarperOne. Here one will find books by a diverse group of authors, including such well known ones as C. S. Lewis, N. T. Wright, Bart D. Ehrman, and Jim Wallis. There are just a handful of books published by HarperOne that are worth reading. Out of the 1,036 books currently listed on the HarperOne site, I have four of them.

For reference, there is the massive 2,048-page The Study Quran, described as “an accessible and accurate translation of the Quran that offers a rigorous analysis of its theological, metaphysical, historical, and geographical teachings and backgrounds, and includes extensive study notes, special introductions by experts in the field, and is edited by a top modern Islamic scholar, respected in both the West and the Islamic world.” Naturally, it does not provide a negative view of the Koran, but there are other books that do that. If you live in an area with a large Muslim community and want to have a wide variety of resources on Islam at your disposal, then this is the only reason that you would want to have this volume.

Although Bart D. Ehrman is an agnostic who departed from the faith after attending Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College and then going to Princeton Theological Seminary, his book Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (2012) is an important one. There are some atheists, agnostics, humanists, and assorted nut jobs out there who not only deny the virgin birth, deity, miracles, and resurrection of Christ, but also deny that Jesus ever even existed. Ehrman destroys them.

The other Ehrman book in my library published by HarperOne is not one I can recommend. I have reviewed How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (2014) along with the response to it by Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, Simon Gathercole, Charles E. Hill, and Chris Tilling called How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature (Zondervan, 2014) in a single review that appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of the Journal of Dispensational Theology (pp. 294-298).

There are a lot of good things that I could say about The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade (2014) by Philip Jenkins. As I said at the end of my review of this book: “The religious aspects of World War I are unmistakable and essential for understanding the war. Philip Jenkins has written one of the most informative and important books about the Great War.”

I thought for sure I owned a copy of Sacred Liberty: America’s Long, Bloody, and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom (2019) by Steven Waldman, but can’t seem to find it on my bookshelves. It is definitely worth reading. I used to have On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons (4th ed., 1979, revised by Vernon L. Stanfield) by John Broadus (1827-1895) and Early Christian Doctrines by J. N. D. Kelly (first published in 1958 by A & C Black in London; Harper 5th ed., 1978), but have long since gotten rid of them. I think I may also at one time have owned The Religious History of America: The Heart of the American Story from Colonial Times to Today (rev. ed., 2002) by Edwin S. Gaustad and Leigh Schmidt and Idioms in the Bible Explained and a Key to the Original Gospels (1985, but originally separate books published much earlier) by George M. Lamsa.

I have not read and do not own The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries (1997; originally published by Princeton in 1996) or The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion (2011), both by Rodney Stark, but I am familiar with them. I recommend instead Bart D. Ehrman’s The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World (Simon & Schuster, 2018), which I have reviewed for the New American. I do not recommend Stark’s other HarperOne title, God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades (2010), but I do recommend his The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (Random House, 2005). There are no other religious books published by HarperOne worth reading. I have heard good things about 1492: The Year the World Began (2010) by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, but it is a purely secular book. Not sure why it was published under the HarperOne imprint. I will keep you posted as to any future HarperOne books worth mentioning.

Under the Harper Perennial imprint, I note only four valuable religious books:

  • The Protestant Reformation (rev. ed., 2009), by Hans Hillerbrand
  • Civilization of the Middle Ages (rev. ed., 1994), by Norman Cantor
  • The Jesuits: Missions, Myth and Histories (2005), by Jonathan Wright
  • God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (2005), by Adam Nicolson

I have read and used to own the Cantor book. I have not read and neither do I own the Hillerbrand and Wright books, but would not hesitate to get them if I were studying those subjects. The Nicolson book is highly recommended, and will be discussed in a future post. I should also mention that HarperCollins has a conservative imprint called Broadside Books.


Brill is an academic publisher headquartered in The Netherlands. Founded in 1683, “Brill’s publications focus on the Humanities and Social Sciences, International Law and selected areas in the Sciences.” This includes books on religion, all religions. Two of its main subject areas are “Religious Studies” and “Theology and World Christianity.” Brill is one of the largest (and most expensive) academic publishers in the world, and “publishes close to 1,400 books and reference works per year in both print and electronic format” and over 330 journals titles.” The reason that Brill is the first publisher mentioned here at The Preacher’s Library is simply because I recently received a marketing e-mail from Brill. Unfortunately, the e-mail was to announce that Brill was recognizing Pride Month in June, and contained a link to books and journal articles in that genre. This should come as no surprise, as Brill is not a Christian publisher nor even a religious one. Am I going to boycott Brill because they are pandering to the “LGBT community” and people interested in such nonsense? Of course not. Why should I deprive myself of important books just because I don’t like the politics or the publications of a publisher? Most major corporations, including those in the USA, recognize and even celebrate Pride Month. I would have to boycott them as well to be consistent. I am not aware of any Christian publishers that recognize Pride Month, but the ugly truth is that there are some Christian publishers that publish books in defense of abortion and same-sex marriage. I will address this in a future post on the state of Christian publishing.

I have just a few books in my library published by Brill:

  • Novum Testamentum ab Erasmo Recognitum (the scholarly critical edition of the New Testament Greek text and Latin translation of Erasmus, edited by Andrew J. Brown).
  • The English Bible in the Early Modern World, edited by Robert Armstrong and Tadhg Ó Hannracháin (2018).
  • Beyond What Is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament, Jan Krans (2006).
  • Richard ‘Dutch’ Thomson, c. 1569-1613: The Life and Letters of a Renaissance Scholar, Paul Botley (2016).
  • Labourers in the Vineyard of the Lord: Erudition and the Making of the King James Version of the Bible, edited by Mordechai Feingold (2018).

These last two books are very important as concerning the history of the King James Bible. Richard Thomson was one of the translators. Richard ‘Dutch’ Thomson, c. 1569-1613: The Life and Letters of a Renaissance Scholar is the only scholarly biography of one of the King James translators that I am aware of. Part I (29 short chapters, pgs. 3-140) traces Thomson’s life and Part II (pgs. 143-354) contains a critical edition of all of his surviving correspondence. The 78 letters are in Latin, but have an English synopsis and explanatory footnotes. An appendix details 24 manuscripts and 35 books from his library.

Labourers in the Vineyard of the Lord: Erudition and the Making of the King James Version of the Bible is one of the most important and scholarly books on the history of the King James Bible and its translators ever published (for $172, it better be). The book was not published in time for me to mine its resources for the second edition (2016) of my book King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, but I have done so for the forthcoming third edition. The table of contents and previews of each chapter can be seen at the above link. These two books are not light reading, and may be two of the most scholarly books you will ever read.