Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (UBCS) | Reviews, Theology

The Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, published by Baker, is a re-branding of the the New International Biblical Commentary (NIBC) series, formerly published by Hendrickson, which was a re-branding of the Good News Commentary (GNC) series, formerly by published by HarperCollins.

  • GNC commentaries were first published in the 1980’s.
  • Many NIBC commentaries published in the 1990’s were re-branded GNC volumes.
  • Many UBCS commentaries published in the 2000’s were re-branded NIBC volumes.
understanding the bible commentary series
Understanding the Bible Commentary Series current cover design

For example, Robert Mounce wrote the Matthew commentary in the GNC, NIBC, and the UBCS series. These editions have different publishers, different cover designs, and belong to series with different names, but the content in each book is the same. [1]

See how the UBCS series compares to dozens of others here: Top 50 Bible Commentaries Series, listed and compared.

UBCS commentaries are noted for their easy-to-read format, their evangelical, though sometimes moderately-critical, approach to Scripture, and for their manageable size (many volumes are 300 to 400-page paperbacks) and for their affordability. Authors use the NIV translation.

These volumes are not technical so readers who do not have training in Hebrew and Greek can read the main body of the commentary without difficulty.

The conclusion of each chapter includes a section called “Additional Notes” where the author includes brief discussion of transliterated Hebrew and Greek words as well as selective details about theology and history.

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Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (UBCS): Reviews

Many volumes in these series’ have received praise. Among Old Testament volumes, Iain W. Provan’s 1-2 Kings commentary is considered one of the best 1-2 Kings commentaries.

The same is true of Christopher J. H. Wright’s Deuteronomy commentary, which is one of the best Deuteronomy commentaries and Gerald H. Wilson’s Job commentary, is considered one of the best Job commentaries.

new international biblical commentary
NIBC cover design

Among New Testament volumes, Craig A. Evans’ Luke commentary has been well-reviewed, such as by London School of Theology professor Max Turner who wrote, “Craig Evans’ volume on Luke is a model of the series. The writer is as aware of the main questions which dominate Lucan scholarship today as he is of its methods and useful findings.”

Additionally, Gordon Fee’s 1-2 Timothy and Titus commentary has been well-reviewed such as by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Thomas Schreiner who wrote that Fee’s commentary is “a model of clarity and organization and consistently reflects a judicious examination of exegetical issues… I think it is one of the best available [commentaries] on the Pastoral Epistles.”

Many people appreciate the concise nature and relative affordability of one-volume whole bible commentaries. See the Top 25 Whole Bible Commentaries to browse the list.

Purpose of the Understanding the Bible Series

Publishers have described the purpose of these commentaries in different ways. Hendrickson Publishing wrote,

The New International Biblical Commentary series offers the best of contemporary scholarship in a format that both general readers and serious students can use with profit.

good news commentary
GNC cover design

The aim of the series is to provide reliable guides to the books of the Bible presented in a style that does not require formal theological education to understand.

Based on the widely used New International Version translation, each volume in the NIBC presents an introductory chapter detailing the background of the book, its audiences, its authorship, its important themes, and other helpful information. [2]

Baker Academic wrote,

The Understanding the Bible Commentary Series helps readers navigate the strange and sometimes intimidating literary terrain of the Bible.

These accessible volumes break down the barriers between the ancient and modern worlds so that the power and meaning of the biblical texts become transparent to contemporary readers.

The contributors tackle the task of interpretation using the full range of critical methodologies and practices, yet they do so as people of faith who hold the text in the highest regard.

Pastors, teachers, and lay people alike will cherish the truth found in this commentary series.” [3]

New Testament Volumes

The links below go to Amazon using each book’s exact ISBN.

Publication dates reflect Baker Academic releases.

Matthew – Robert H. Mounce | Published: 2011

Mark – Larry W. Hurtado | Published: 2011

Luke – Craig A. Evans | Published: 2011

John – J. Ramsey Michaels | Published: 2011

Acts – David J. Williams | Published: 2011

Romans – James R. Edwards | Published: 2011

1 Corinthians – Marion L. Soards | Published: 2011

2 Corinthians – James M. Scott | Published: 2011

Galatians – L. Ann Jervis | Published: 2011

Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon – Arthur G. Patzia | Published: 2011

Philippians – F. F. Bruce | Published: 2011

1 and 2 Thessalonians – David J. Williams | Published: 2011

1 and 2 Timothy, Titus – Gordon D. Fee | Published: 2011

Hebrews – Donald A. Hagner | Published: 2011

James – Peter H. Davids | Published: 2011

1 and 2 Peter, Jude – Norman Hillyer | Published: 2011

1, 2 and 3 John – Thomas F. Johnson | Published: 2011

Revelation – Robert W. Wall | Published: 2011

Old Testament Volumes

Genesis – John E. Hartley | Published: 2012

Exodus – James K. Bruckner | Published: 2012

Leviticus, Numbers – W. H. Bellinger, Jr. | Published: 2012

Deuteronomy – Christopher J. H. Wright | Published: 2012

Joshua, Judges, Ruth – Cheryl A. Brown, J. Gordon Harris, and Michael S. Moore | Published: 2012

1 and 2 Samuel – Mary J. Evans | Published: 2012

1 and 2 Kings – Iain W. Provan | Published: 2012

1 and 2 Chronicles – Louis C. Jonker | Published: 2013

Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther – Leslie C. Allen and Timothy S. Laniak | Published: 2012

Job – Gerald H. Wilson | Published: 2012

Psalms – Craig C. Broyles | Published: 2012

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs – Elizabeth Huwiler and Roland E. Murphy | Published: 2012

Isaiah – John Goldingay | Published: 2012

Jeremiah, Lamentations – Tremper Longman | Published: 2012

Ezekiel – Steven Tuell | Published: 2012

Daniel – William Nelson | Published: 2012

Minor Prophets, Vol. 1 – Elizabeth Achtemeier | Published: 2012

Minor Prophets, Vol. 2 – John Goldingay and Pamela Scalise | Published: 2012


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H._Mounce
  2. From the “Forward” found in NIBC volumes.
  3. http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bakeracademic