Best Genesis Commentaries | Reviews for Preaching, Teaching, and Bible Study

Best Genesis Bible commentaries

Consider how much wisdom and insight you would gain if you understood the book of Genesis better. Its message about God, sin, people, and redemption is inspired (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and can transform you (Rom. 12:2). Bible commentaries on Genesis can help you understand its message and apply it to your life.

The Bible instructs Christians to seek wisdom (Prov. 1:7; James 1:5) and who better to learn from than pastors, theologians, and professors who have been studying and teaching Genesis for decades?

10 Best Genesis Commentaries

The best Genesis commentaries are listed below. There are exegetical commentaries, scholarly and technical commentaries, as well as commentaries that are easy to understand.

These commentaries are not suggested as a replacement for prayer, the Holy Spirit, or the reader’s own diligent study of Scripture.

The “Top 10” list below is based on aggregate academic reviews. The list is a starting point for learning about Genesis commentaries. It is not intended to be the “final word” because of its limitations.

Nevertheless, a list based on aggregate reviews is likely to point you in the right direction to find the right resources for your purposes.

#1

Genesis 1-15 and 16-50
Word Biblical Commentary
by Gordon J. Wenham

Based on aggregate reviews, Wenham’s Genesis commentary (two volumes) ranks just slightly higher than Hamilton’s and Mathews’, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. Though some people find WBC commentaries difficult to navigate, reviewers agree that Wenham’s is worth your time because of the exegetical insight he provides on the book of Genesis.

Wenham’s volumes are also the #1 ranked Genesis commentary according to Desiring God and Ligonier Ministries. Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman called Wenham “one of the finest evangelical commentators today.” Genesis scholar John Walton wrote that Wenham’s commentary reflects a “sound presentation of modern evangelical interpretation.”

Wenham is a renowned British scholar. The WBC series is one of the best commentary series available today. It’s designed for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. It’s a mid-level commentary series, which means it’s more advanced than introductory commentaries, but you don’t have to know Hebrew in order to benefit from it.

Best Genesis commentary
How does Wenham’s Genesis commentary compare to Hamilton’s? See below
Best Genesis Bible commentary by Gordon Wenham
How does Genesis in the WBC series compare Genesis in the NICOT series? See below

After browsing the commentaries below, please see Best Bible Commentaries: Top 50. Based on aggregate reviews.

#2

Genesis 1-17 and 18-50
New International Commentary on the Old Testament
by Victor P. Hamilton

One of the benefits of Hamilton’s Genesis commentary (two volumes) is that it belongs to the well-reviewed NICOT commentary series. You might be like most people who find that Hamilton’s volumes are easier to read than Wenham’s, partly because of the helpful layout. Hamilton’s volumes combine exegesis and theology, which pastors will find especially helpful.

Reviewers note that Hamilton generally comes to conservative conclusions as he interacts with the book of Genesis. Like any other commentary, including Wenham’s, you may not agree with everything you read, but overall Hamilton’s teaching and reflections on Genesis will teach and edify those studying the book for personal or ministry purposes.

Pastors love the New International Commentary series, which has Old and New Testament volumes. Commentaries in this series, like those in the WBC series, cost more new than other volumes, especially those published in paperback. However, you might be like many reviewers who say the slightly higher cost of highly-ranked commentaries is worth it.

Genesis commentary by Victor Hamilton
How does the NICOT series compare to the NAC series? See below
Genesis commentary by Victor Hamilton
How does Hamilton’s Genesis commentary compare to Mathews’? See below

Also see the best one-volume bible commentaries, based on aggregate reviews.

#3

Genesis 1-11:26 and 11:27-50:26
New American Commentary
by Kenneth A. Mathews

Like Wenham and Hamilton’s volumes, Mathews’ Genesis commentary (two volumes) will be most beneficial if you have some experience reading biblical studies resources. Many people find Mathews’ easier to read than Hamilton.

Wenham’s volumes contain more exegesis and interaction with Hebrew, but Mathews’ offers readers more insight into the literature and theology of Genesis, which makes it helpful to pastors and advanced Bible readers.

The New American Commentary series is designed for pastors, but the information is applicable to anyone. The series broadly reflects evangelical and Baptist convictions. Some consider Mathews’ Genesis commentary the best in the NAC series.

Genesis commentary by Kenneth Mathews
How do Mathew’s volumes compare to one-volume Genesis commentaries? See below
Genesis commentary by Kenneth Mathews
Is Mathews’ or John Walton’s Genesis commentary easier to read? See below

#4

Genesis
NIV Application Commentary
by John H. Walton

Walton is a biblical scholar and an expert on the book of Genesis. His one-volume commentary in the NIV Application Commentary series is the best choice if your intention is to acquire a basic understanding of the text and then apply it to life today. Compared to Wenham, Hamilton, and Mathews, Walton’s is the easiest to read.

It’s also the shortest and most affordable among the four. The NIVAC series is designed for pastors, but most experienced Sunday school teachers and small group leaders will find it helpful. Creationists won’t agree with his interpretation of the creation account.

The NIV Application Commentary series is perhaps the most popular Bible commentary series today. Its approach to explaining the text and then making it relevant to people today through sections that focus on application, has found a wide base of readers.

Keith Mathison says Walton “excels in terms of bridging the gap between the original audience and the contemporary world.”

Walton’s commentary is the best-reviewed single-volume on Genesis

#5

Creation and Blessing:
A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis
by Allen P. Ross

If you are a pastor or layperson who is seeking theological reflection, Ross’ Genesis commentary, titled Creation and Blessing, is second only to Walton. Ross is a long-time professor at Beeson Divinity School.

If you are looking for preaching help, you may even prefer Ross because of his combination of expository and theological insight into the text. Ross’s book doesn’t have separate sections on applying the text as Walton’s does.

Creation and Blessing is a stand-alone commentary, meaning it isn’t a part of a series like the first four commentaries. The book is available in high-quality paperback format, which brings down the price, especially compared to the top three.

Genesis commentary by Allen Ross
Ross’ Genesis commentary isn’t part of a series
Genesis commentary by Allen Ross
Creation and Blessing is great for pastors and teachers

#6

Genesis
Tyndale Old Testament Commentary
by Derek Kidner

Derek Kidner is a much-beloved commentary writer. His explanations are easy to understand and his reflections on the text are memorable. Longman calls this volume “solidly conservative,” though creationists will disagree with him.

If you are a pastor, you will appreciate Kidner’s substance and depth. If you are not a pastor, but just interested in learning more about Genesis, you will find Kidner’s commentary meaty, challenging, and edifying. Like Walton and Ross, Kidner doesn’t offer in-depth commentary on every verse of Genesis.

The Tyndale Commentary Series is well-reviewed for offering readers passage-by-passage explanations of the text. Kidner’s accessible writing style will enable some people to read straight through the commentary.

Genesis commentary by Derek Kidner
The various covers of Kidner’s commentary have the same content

#7

Genesis: A Commentary
by Bruce K. Waltke

Waltke’s stand-alone Genesis commentary is designed for a variety of readers, including pastors, scholars, Sunday school teachers, and Bible readers. However, its exegetical and theological depth may prove challenging to inexperienced commentary readers.

Waltke’s commentary has more similarities with Mathews’ than others on this list. While his comments are based on the Hebrew of Genesis, Wenham interacts more with the original language of the text. Though his theological reflections will help you start to make applications of the text, Walton is more helpful in doing so.

Genesis commentary by Bruce Waltke
Waltke’s Genesis isn’t part of a series

#8

Genesis
Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary
by James McKeown

The Two Horizons commentary series is no longer printed. The publisher discontinued it before it was complete. Nevertheless, there are well-reviewed volumes in the series, including James McKeown’s Genesis volume.

If you are looking for a Genesis commentary that offers passage-by-passage theological explanations of the text that entertain liberal perspectives, then McKeown’s volume may be the right choice for you.

Genesis commentary by James McKeown
The “Two Horizons” in McKeown’s Genesis are exegesis and theology

#9

Genesis
Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Revised)
by John Sailhamer

John Sailhamer offers readers a well-reviewed mid-level commentary on the book of Genesis. It is Desiring God’s #1 recommended commentary on Genesis. Sailhamer’s volume is well-reviewed for its conservative positions and thoroughness, as he provides verse-by-verse explanations.

Scholars may find Sailhamer’s interaction with Ancient Near East literature helpful, but pastors and other Bible readers probably won’t. He also discusses the application of Genesis, which those using the book for ministry or devotional purposes will find helpful.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series has received excellent reviews for decades.

Genesis Bible commentary by John Sailhammer
Sailhammer’s Genesis is one of the best-reviewed in the REBC series

#10

Genesis
Understanding Bible Commentary Series
by John E. Hartley

John Hartley’s Genesis commentary is an average-size paperback that contains introductory to mid-level explanations of the text.

Pastors may use it because Hartley will help them explain the stories of Genesis. Other Bible readers will like it because it’s useful for devotional and small group purposes.

Best Genesis commentaries John Hartley
Hartley and Kidner are the best options in the Top 10 for beginners

More Genesis commentaries for Bible study and ministry

Why are the Genesis commentaries below not in the Top 10? It’s not because they have received poor reviews or because people haven’t found them helpful. The reasons vary:

  • Some are relatively new and haven’t been widely reviewed, read, or used (yet)
  • Others haven’t been widely distributed, so it’s difficult to get enough information to aggregate
  • Still others may be outdated in relation to biblical scholarship or out of print and difficult to acquire

The Top 10 list is reviewed annually. Readers are encouraged to consider volumes in this section before making their purchase. They are not in ranking order,

Title/Series/AuthorCheck Price on Amazon
Genesis (Interpretation) by Walter Brueggemann Use exact ISBN
Genesis (JPS Torah Commentary) by Nahum M. Sarna Use exact ISBN
Genesis 1-11 (The Bible Speaks Today) by David Atkinson Use exact ISBN
Genesis 12-50 (Bible Speaks Today) by Joyce Baldwin Use exact ISBN
Genesis (Focus on the Bible) by Richard P. Belcher, Jr. Use exact ISBN
Genesis (Brazos Theological Commentary) by R.R. Reno Use exact ISBN
Genesis: A New Commentary (stand alone) by Meredith G. Kline Use exact ISBN
Title/Series/AuthorCheck Price on Amazon
Genesis (New Cambridge Bible Commentary) by Bill T. Arnold Use exact ISBN
Genesis (Old Testament Library) by Gerhard Von Rad Use exact ISBN
Genesis (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries) by E.A. Speiser Use exact ISBN
Genesis (A Continental Commentary) by Claus Westermann Use exact ISBN
The Genesis Record (stand alone) by Henry M. Morris Use exact ISBN
Genesis (Crossway Classic Commentary) by John Calvin Use exact ISBN

References:
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