Word Biblical Commentary (WBC)

The Word Biblical Commentary series is one of the most well-known and well-reviewed commentary series published in the last 50 years. The recognizable blue and black covers of Old Testament volumes, and the green and black covers of New Testament volumes, are found in seminary libraries, pastors’ libraries, and home libraries all around the world. Roger Nicole listed the WBC series in Christianity Today magazine in an article titled, “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.

word biblical commentary
New Testament volumes are green and black

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 rights. Zondervan is still publishing original and 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, at Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia.

The first editor of the New Testament volumes was British New Testament scholar, Ralph P. Martin (d. 2013), who wrote the James commentary in the series. The current editor of New Testament volumes is Peter H. Davids, Professor of Christianity at Houston Baptist University.

The target audience for Word Biblical Commentary volumes is students, pastors, and professors. According to the series’ editors, this is what makes the commentaries 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]

Please see how the WBC series compares to dozens of other commentary series on the Bible Commentaries Comparison Chart.

Reviews and Theology of the Word Biblical Commentary Series

word biblical commentary series
Old Testament volumes are blue and black

Numerous Old Testament 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. [3]

Likewise, many New Testament volumes have also been well-reviewed and are considered some of the best scholarship in their respective subject area, such as James D.G. Dunn’s Romans commentary and William Lane’s Hebrews commentary.

Theologically, though some WBC volumes take a critical approach to Scripture, yet on the whole the series is considered broadly evangelical. However, some readers have noted that certain authors do not come from evangelical church traditions, such as Roland Edward Murphy, a Catholic priest, who wrote the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes volumes.

Volumes in the Word Biblical Commentary Series — Original and Revised

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Old Testament Volumes

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

New Testament Volumes

Hagner, Donald A. Matthew 1-13. (Volume: 33a) | Published: 1993

Hagner, Donald A. Matthew 14-28. (Volume: 33b) | Published: 1995

Guelich, Robert A. Mark 1:1-8:26. (Volume: 34a) | Published: 1989

Evans, Craig A. Mark 8:27-16:20. (Volume: 34b) | Published: 2001

Nolland, John. Luke 1:1-9:20. (Volume: 35a) | Published: 1989

Nolland, John. Luke 9:21-18:34. (Volume: 35b) | Published: 1993

Nolland, John. Luke 18:35-24:53. (Volume: 35c) | Published: 1993

Beasley-Murray, George R. John. (Volume: 36) | Published: 1987

Acts 1-14 (forthcoming from Steven J. Walton)

Acts 15-28 (forthcoming from Steven J. Walton)

Dunn, James D. G. Romans 1-8. (Volume: 38a) | Published: 1988

Dunn, James D. G. Romans 9-16. (Volume: 38b) | Published: 1988

1 Corinthians (forthcoming from Andrew D. Clarke)

Martin, Ralph P. 2 Corinthians (2nd ed.). (Volume: 40) | Published: 2014

Replaced Martin, Ralph P. 2 Corinthians. (Volume: 40) | Published: 1986

Longenecker, Richard N. Galatians. (Volume: 41) | Published: 1990

Lincoln, Andrew T. Ephesians. (Volume: 42) | Published: 1990

Hawthorne, Gerald F. Philippians. (Volume: 43) | Published: 1983

O’Brien, Peter T. Colossians and Philemon. (Volume: 44) | Published: 1982

Bruce, F. F. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. (Volume: 45) | Published: 1982

Mounce, William D. Pastoral Epistles. (Volume: 46) | Published: 2000

Lane, William L. Hebrews 1-8. (Volume: 47a) | Published: 1991

Lane, William L. Hebrews 9-13. (Volume: 47b) | Published: 1991

Martin, Ralph P. James. (Volume: 48) | Published: 1988

Michaels, J. Ramsey. 1 Peter. (Volume: 49) | Published: 1988

Bauckham, Richard J. 2 Peter and Jude. (Volume: 50) | Published: 1983

Smalley, Stephen S. 1, 2 and 3 John. (Volume: 51) | Published: 1984

Aune, David A. Revelation 1-5. (Volume: 52a) | Published: 1997

Aune, David A. Revelation 6-16. (Volume: 52b) | Published: 1997

Aune, David A. Revelation 17-22. (Volume: 52c) | Published: 1998


Footnotes:

  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.
  3. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-commentaries-does-dg-recommend