Commentaries Worth Reading Cover-to-Cover

Am I the only one who enjoys a good commentary, cover to cover, from time to time? This is usually a luxurious summer read for me, taking time to concentrate on an entire Biblical book. Here are some of my favorites…


Isaiah 1-39 & Isaiah 40-66 by Walter Brueggemann.

Walter Brueggemann
These volumes will make you swoon and sway as you encounter the words of Isaiah and the potent explanations by Brueggemann. It helps that he is not only a scholar, but a rhetorician, making the journey through this prophetic book eloquent, powerful and memorable.


A Commentary on the Book of EXODUS by U. Cassuto.

The title sounds so dry, the cover is just grey, the book is even out of print and only procured through second-hand sellers – but it is worth it. Cassuto, an Italian Jew, writes about Exodus like no other. He has a feel for the cadence of the book, it’s language, it’s narrative arc. You work a bit, but you enter into vistas of poetic understanding that are so worth each effort. If you love a good liberation story, if you love Exodus, you need to read this one.


The Song of Songs: A New Translation and Interpretation by Marcia Falk.

Song of Songs
Song of Songs seduced me early on, not as an allegory but as sheer poetry that made my toes curl. Falk unfolds this book with such lush eloquence and poetic verve. She explains the genre, the metaphors that are often lost on us, and re-introduces the Hebrew poetry to us in ways we can engage and enjoy. It’s a small volume you can tuck into your tote and read at the beach… steamy in the best ways!


Who Are You, My Daughter? Reading Ruth Through Image and Text by Ellen Davis (Translation and Notes) and Margaret Adams Parker (Woodcuts).

Who Are You
I confess I’ve never been a fan of Ruth – but now I know it’s because we weren’t properly introduced. Ellen Davis writes with skill and simplicity about Ruth and her kin. This is a slight book, but heavy with goodness and artwork to help convey the beauty of Ruth, the Moabite.


Lamentations & The Tears of the World by Kathleen O’Connor.

This may not seem like an obvious page turner, but in our times of war and woe, I find a good lament just what the Spirit ordered. O’Conner writes with lyrical prose that will keep you engaged, even as you descend into the grief work of Lamentations. The paperback easily fits in your purse, but the content is expansive. It will break you open to new expressions of sadness, loss and even offer a lexicon for lament.


Hearing the Whole Story: The Politics of Plot in Mark’s Gospel by Richard Horsley.

Hearing the Whole Story
Yes, a book from the New Testament even! Mark is my favorite gospel, and l tore through this volume by Horsley. He re-introduced me to a gospel I thought I knew so well. If you love a good story about a great story, this commentary is for you!


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