Word Biblical Commentary – Old Testament

The Word Biblical Commentary series is one of the most well-known and well-reviewed commentary series that has been published in the last 50 years. The recognizable blue and black covers of Old Testament volumes, and green and black covers of New Testament volumes, are found in seminary libraries, pastors’ libraries, and home libraries all around the world. Roger Nicole mentioned the WBC series in Christianity Today magazine in an article title, “What Evangelicalism Has Accomplished” in the last half of the twentieth century.1 Some of the best Bible scholars in the world have contributed to this series.

The information below is about the Old Testament volumes. Please see the Word Biblical Commentary – New Testament article here.

The History and Theology of the Word Biblical Commentary Series

word biblical commentary cover

Different publishers have owned the Word Biblical Commentary series since it first appeared in the late 1970’s: Word Books developed the series, then Thomas Nelson adopted it, and currently HarperCollins / Zondervan has its right. Zondervan is still publishing original as well as revised volumes in the series.

The first editor of the Old Testament volumes was Baptist theologian and Old Testament scholar, John D.W. Watts (d. 2013). The current editor of Old Testament volumes is Nancy L. deClaisse-Walford, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages at McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta.

Theologically, though some volumes take a critical approach to Scripture, commentaries in the WBC series are mostly broadly evangelical. However, some reviewers have noted that certain volumes fall outside of those parameters, such as the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes volumes, which were written by Roland Edward Murphy, a Catholic priest. Numerous volumes in the series have been well-reviewed and are considered some of the best scholarship in their respective subject area, such as Gordon Wenham’s Genesis commentary and John Hartley’s Leviticus commentary.

According to the editors, this is what makes the series unique:

What may be claimed as distinctive with the series is that it is based on the biblical languages, yet it seeks to make the technical and scholarly approach to theological understanding of Scripture understandable by — and useful to — the fledgling student, the working minister, and colleagues in the guild of professional scholars and teachers as well.2

Volumes in the Word Biblical Commentary Series — Original and Revised

Links go to Amazon.

Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1-15. (Volume: 1) | Published: 1987

Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 16-50. (Volume: 2) | Published: 1994

Durham, John I. Exodus. (Volume: 3) | Published: 1987

Hartley, John E. Leviticus. (Volume: 4) | Published: 1992

Budd, Phillip J. Numbers. (Volume: 5) | Published: 1984

Christensen, Duane L. Deuteronomy 1-11. (Volume: 6a) | Published: 1991

Christensen, Duane L. Deuteronomy 12-34. (Volume: 6b) | Published: 2002

Butler, Trent C. Joshua 1-12. 2nd ed. (Volume: 7a) | Published: 2014

Butler, Trent C. Joshua 13-24. 2nd ed.. (Volume: 7b) | Published: 2014

Replaced Butler, Trent C. Joshua. (Volume: 7) | Published: 1983

Armerding, Carl E. Judges. (Volume: 8) | Published: 2006

Bush, Fredric W. Ruth and Esther. (Volume: 9) | Published: 1996

Klein, Ralph W. 1 Samuel. (Volume: 10) | Published: 1983

Anderson, A. A. 2 Samuel. (Volume: 11) | Published: 1989

De Vries, Simon J. 1 Kings. (Volume: 12) | Published: 1985

Hobbs, T. R. 2 Kings. (Volume: 13) | Published: 1986

Braun, Roddy L. 1 Chronicles. (Volume: 14) | Published: 1986

Dillard, Raymond B. 2 Chronicles. (Volume: 15) | Published: 2010

Williamson, Hugh G. M. Ezra-Nehemiah. (Volume: 16) | Published: 1986

Clines, David J. A. Job 1-20. (Volume: 17) | Published: 1989

Clines, David J. A. Job 21-37. (Volume: 18a) | Published: 2006

Clines, David J. A. Job 38-42. 2nd ed. (Volume: 18b) | Published: 2015

Craigie, Peter C. Psalms 1-50. 2nd ed. (Volume: 19) | Published: 2010

Tate, Marvin E. Psalms 51-100. (Volume: 20) | Published: 1991

Allen, Leslie C. Psalms 101-150. (Volume: 21) | Published: 1983

Murphy, Roland. Proverbs. (Volume: 22) | Published: 1998

Murphy, Roland. Ecclesiastes. (Volume: 23a) | Published: 1992

Garrett, Duane; House, Paul R. Song of Songs and Lamentations. (Volume: 23b) | Published: 2004

Watts, John D. W. Isaiah 1-33. 2nd ed. (Volume: 24) | Published: 2005

Watts, John D. W. Isaiah 34-66. 2nd ed. (Volume: 25) | Published: 2005

Craigie, Peter C.; Kelley, Page H.; Drinkard Jr., Joel F. Jeremiah 1-25. (Volume: 26) | Published: 1991

Keown, Gerald L.; Scalise, Pamela J.; Smothers, Thomas G. Jeremiah 26-52. (Volume: 27) | Published: 1995

Brownlee, William H. Ezekiel 1-19. (Volume: 28) | Published: 1994

Allen, Leslie C. Ezekiel 20-48. (Volume: 29) | Published: 1990

Goldingay, John E. Daniel. (Volume: 30) | Published: 1989

Stuart, Douglas. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah and Jonah. (Volume: 31) | Published: 1987

Smith, Ralph L. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Nahum & Malachi. (Volume: 32) | Published: 1984


  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20090218140843/http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1996/september16/6ta030.html?start=2 (accessed 3/4/19)
  2. From the “Editorial Preface,” which can be found in any WBC volume.