For our May issue of Worship Leader, we put the word out that we would be offering a Bible resource guide for worship leaders. And writers, publishers, and colleges all came back with a nearly overwhelming amount of Bibles and Bible resources. There was simply too much content to fit it all in the magazine, so here we present the unabridged version of the Bible Resource Guide for Worship Leaders.
Whether you’re preparing a sermon, writing a hymn or just looking for renewed clarity, the Bible is the essential resource for Truth, history, wisdom, inspiration, and most important, as a revelation of our Triune God.
* Those who write commentaries do so from a particular personal/theological/contextual vantage point, providing both brilliant and questionable conclusions, so enjoy, yet read with care and an ear connected to the Source of all biblical wisdom.
New Testament Commentary
The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary /Francis J. Moloney / Baker Academic
Francis J. Moloney, author of many noteworthy commentaries, takes on a book less popular among the four gospels. Moloney reevaluates the common interpretations of Mark and provides scholarly commentary that is both accessible and refreshing.
Salty Wives, Spirited Mothers, and Savvy Widows / F.Scott Spencer / Eerdmans A thorough analysis of the women in Luke that re-evaluates their notorious reputation and offers an alternate, fresh view that holds these women as respectable, dignified, and empowered in their identity in Christ.
Luke/ (Theological Commentary on the Bible) / David Lyle Jeffrey / Brazos
Refreshing. Orthodox. Seamlessly weaving his own accessible and inviting prose with that of poets and theologians to paint a living and captivating picture of Christ and the Gospel.
Ancient Christian Texts: Commentary on John / Cyril of Alexandria Vol 1 / Translated by David Maxwell / Edited by Joel C. Elowsky / IVP
Meet Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria (412-444), one of the most colorful and controversial figures of the 5th century Church. He liberates us from “fate,” establishes free will, describes Christ’s nature and addresses key heresies and proclaims enduring doctrine. Saint or “monster”? Judge for yourself. Easily navigated accessible translation. For the serious and the curious.
Acts an Exegetical commentary Craig S. Keener / Baker Academic
Two of 4 volumes are available: (1) Introduction and 1:1 – 2:47, and (2) 3:1 – 14:28. Monumental, exhaustive, insightful, a lasting and significant resource for students of the Bible and early Christianity.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans / (Pillar New Testament Commentary)Colin G. Kruse / Eerdmans
Based off of the Greek text, Kruse, an acclaimed evangelical scholar, addresses issues in Paul common in our culture today. This book provides historical background information of the Romans and chapter-by-chapter commentary, flushing out overarching themes and topics, which are comprehensive and scholarly, yet easy to understand.
First Corinthians / (Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament / Pheme Perkins / Baker Academic
A reader-friendly commentary for pastor, student, or Scripture/history buffs. The series is aimed at shaping theological perspective. Perkins brings context and therefore fresh meaning to this much loved NT book, delivering a generally moderate interpretation.
The Life and Witness of Peter / Larry R. Helyer / IVP
Critics and readers attest: Helyer fills a “gap” in scholarship. We agree. And if you’re teaching a class: Helyer has included consequential questions for discussion. He includes a meaningful affirmation and encouragement for worship leaders, writers (and all believers): “Proclamation of God’s saving acts constitutes the highest order of ‘spiritual sacrifices’” (1 Pet 2:9).
Revelation / (Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary) / Mark Brighton / Concordia
Accessible commentary on the book of Revelation for beginners that provides both ESV and KJV in parallel columns.
Old Testament Commentaries and Guides
Genesis / (The NIV Application Commentary) / John H. Walton / Zondervan
Exemplary commentary written by acclaimed scholar John H. Walton, including informative visuals and invaluable historical background information. For the scholar or the student; provides deeper understanding to Genesis examining setting, context, and overall meaning.
Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary / Daniel I Block / Zondervan
This book is often avoided or overlooked, but is one of the most quoted OT books in the New Testament. Block paints a God of grace across Testaments, with the Gospel prominently displayed. Well structured, deep, yet accessible: this one’s a keeper.
The Book of Judges / (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament) / Barry G. Webb / Eerdmans
Addresses the more challenging issues in Judges, providing comprehensive commentary without shying away from a difficult, harsh text. For scholars, but accessible to students and pastors looking to widen their knowledge of Judges and how it fits into modern Christianity.
Job / (Understanding the Books of the Bible) / Christopher R. Smith / IVP
A book for those looking to grasp the basics of Job, providing clarity to an important yet commonly misunderstood book of the Bible. Great for small groups or individual study.
Job / (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms) / Tremper Longman III / Baker Academic
As much as Job is a cultural iconic figure, the book of Job is a bit of a challenge. Longman furnishes his own translation of the text, and creates an easy to follow, well structured commentary that refreshes Job and also connects the book’s wisdom to Christ. Rich, deep, and wide. Some enthusiasts of the commentary do take issue with Longman’s identifying the accusing angel as other than Satan.
Preaching Christ from Daniel: Foundations for Expository Sermons / Sidney Greidanus / Eerdmans
Pastors have often created an artificial divide between Old and New Testament. This book helps bridge the gap and affirms the reality that God “is the same” across the ages, helping pastors deliver the truth about Christ across testaments to their congregations. Straightforward and clear.
Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets / Editors: Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville / IVP
Reading dictionaries can be fun. Really. One of eight volumes, just released in 2012 and already going into its second printing. An essential edition for your library. Primarily from the conservative evangelical camp featuring up to the minute scholarship from the very best.
Bible Study Aids
**Devotions on the Greek New Testament: 52 Reflections to Inspire & Instruct / Eds. J. Scott Duvall, and Verlyn D. Verbrugge / Zondervan
Engages the reader to enter into the original Greek text without overwhelming readers by giving snippets of verses in Greek, analyzing the text, and offering new understanding of the text in a mini-devotional each day. Must be able to read Greek or have Greek translation nearby.
**Invitation to the Psalms: A Reader’s Guide for Discovery and Engagement / Rolf A. Jacobson and Karl N. Jacobson / Baker Academic
A guide that provides a richer reading the unique poetic prose of the Psalms. Examines types of psalms, Hebrew language, context, and historical background, and much more, making the Book of Psalms more approachable for teachers and students.
**Frameworks: How to Navigate the New Testament / Eric Larson/Framework Resources LLC
Simple, graphic, and pleasing to the eye, the reader will see the Bible in a completely refreshing way. Ten vital questions and topics are addressed in each book of the New Testament. Helps categorize the NT in a way that gives a more dimensional understanding and insightful overview.
Story of Stories: A Guided Tour from Geneisis to Revelation / Karen Lee-Thorp/ IVP
A sort of poetic CliffsNotes of the Bible, recounting the major stories, with some added commentary. The narrative offers some interesting twists and beautiful description, yet due to covering a lot of territory in a condensed space sometimes has a less than reverent tone.
**A Cultural Handbook to the Bible/ John J. Pilch / Eerdmans
Takes subjects, content, topics and themes in Scripture that are subject to misinterpretation due to the widely differing social contexts of readers steeped in Western Civilization and analyzes them in terms of cultural relevance. Gives readers new insights on key passages in the Bible and compels us to take a second look at “presumed” building blocks and foundational principles of our faith.
Formation of the Bible, The Story of the Church’s Canon / Lee Martin McDonald / Hendrickson
A historical account of how the Scriptures were chosen. Contains stories written about our sacred collection of books that explores foundational and evocative questions like, “Why did ancient humans collect sacred text?” and “What comprised the Scriptures for Jesus?”
The Bible Study Handbook / Lindsay Olesberg / IVP
They should hand this out with the Bible after altar calls (if you have them). Olesberg will rescue you with fresh perspective, imaginative engagement with God and his word, and creative methodology for inductive Bible study.
Reading the New Testament for the First Time / Ronald J. Allen / Eerdmans
Our times aren’t so different from the Apostle Paul’s. Many have never opened a New Testament and this info-filled, theologically sound, well laid-out book gives basic background to shepherd newbies through the sometimes daunting process. Questions for review makes this ideal for individuals or groups. Even if you have read the New Testament many times, you’ll gather some fresh inspiration.
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes / E. Randolph Richards, Brandon J. O’Brien / IVP
A politely confrontational book that bids you trade in you cultural spectacles and rethink how your worldview distorts your scriptural conclusions. Sex, money, food, self-focus, prejudices, and much more: developed with apt storytelling and enlightening examples.
The Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written. Marcus J. Borg / HarperOne
Borg is a controversial scholar and many take issue with certain assumptions he makes about the meaning and evolution of Scripture, nevertheless, he offers interesting contextual observations and commentary, which must be filtered through a faith based or actual encounter with Christ, or you may find your faith deconstructed. (This is often necessary, but dangerous if you do not have a living relationship with God to reconstruct it in his image). Reading Borg’s commentaries and ordering is an interesting journey and reminder of the fact that the books did not emerge in the order we generally read them. It actually enhances the wonder of Christ revealed in community, since it is generally agreed the gospels were written after Paul’s first letters.
KJV Study Bible / Holman
The only full-color study Bible in KJV translation, this is a beautifully leather bound Bible with lots of visuals that would make a great family Bible. A comprehensive guide including a bible reading plan, definitions of 17th century expressions, charts, maps, timelines, articles, essays, and cross references.
**Israelite Samaritan Version of the Torah / Benyamim Tsedaka, Ed. & Trans., Sharon Sullivan, co-editor / Eerdmans
A great modern addition for scholars that is both informational and accessible, comparing the Israelite Samaritan version with the more well-known Masoretic version of the Hebrew Torah. This is the first English translation of the Israelite Samaritan version.
The NRSV Daily Bible / Harper Bibles
This trusted translation is beautifully put together in an inspired and inspiring combination of the biblical text, thoughtful meditations from Scripture, reflections for contemplation (from Christian influencers across history), and prayer. Truly, one of the best “through the Bible in a year” versions ever. Manageable—even for those who are crunched for time.
* New and Old Classics Bibles and Biblical Resources
Start! The Bible for New Believers (New Testament Version NKJV) / Thomas Nelson
Help someone jump into the Gospels/New Testament and get a secure footing before diving into the whole of Scripture. Featuring an article on salvation from Editor Greg Laurie, plus discipleship tools and mini-commentaries, this Bible was created specifically for new believers in Christ.
Mosaic Bible (NLT) / Tyndale
Published in 2009 is one of the most thoughtfully assembled devotional bibles, its exquisite artwork, and inspiring quotes, hymns, prayers, and poems span centuries and express the depth and wonder of our Christian faith.
The Common English Bible / Abingdon Press
Simple and direct, the CEB’s latest translation isn’t common at all. Written so that the greatest number of people can access the Bible’s message, its readability facilitates congregational participation and encourages study, a perfect introduction to Scripture.
The Lion Guide to the Bible / Peter Walker/ Lion Hudson/Kregel
Reveals connections between biblical characters, creates context for their life stories, and is filled with historical background, with over 200 pictures. Walker is a gifted guide and his book a valuable resource that could ignite interest even in the most resistant reader.
Waterproof Bibles from Bardin & Marsee
Read it on the fly while fishing, surfing, sky diving or water skiing. Extremely durable. Available in KJV, ESV, NIV(1984), and NLT in full Bibles and New Testaments with Psalms and Proverbs. We love these guys.
The Cotton Patch Gospel by Clarence Jordan
Not to be missed, this “version” of the New Testament with a Southern slant brought the New Testament forward in time and planted it right in the middle of the American South in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. Its author deserves a lengthy study himself. Although it was never intended as a translation and some years have passed since its debut, still there is plenty that not only holds up, but informs us in a deep, charming, and challenging way.
The New Testament: An Expanded Edition, Kenneth S. Wuest, Eerdmanns
Uses exactly the number of words to convey the verbal tenses, intent and full range of meaning of the original Greek. It is refreshing, vibrant and explains some mysteries. For instance, exactly why did Jesus ask Peter three times, “Do you love me?” You’ll have to read it to find out. Not for the casual reader, but a great addition to your Bible library. Eerdmanns.com
The old (now out of print) Jerusalem Bible (JB)
Highly recommended by Reggie Kidd, who points out, “J. R. R. Tolkein translated Jonah,” adding: “Even though the base for the translation is a French Bible, this is one of the most elegant and lovely English translations EVER. Alas, the scholarship is generally quite liberal. But the Bible reads beautifully, and has many, many elegant turns of phrase.”
Good News for Modern Man: The New Testament in Today’s English Version / American Bible Society
This Bible originally published in response to a need for Scripture in English for non-English speakers was translated thought for thought versus word for word. Published in 1966, it was a crucial and timely element in The Jesus Movement in the US and abroad, making Bible reading and The Gospel accessible to a generation alienated from and suspicious of traditional religion.
The Voice / Thomas Nelson
Experience being right in the middle of God’s story. The Voice Bible creates a compelling curiosity to find out exactly what happens next with plenty of support material to enrich the reading.
The Expanded Bible / Thomas Nelson
A one-stop Bible. Clears your desk of commentaries, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, concordances and so much more.
The Kingdom New Testament /N.T. Wright / HarperOne
Fresh new translation. Greater clarity, deeper meaning in words we actually understand—direct from the Bible brain trust: N.T. Wright.
ESV Student Study Bible / Crossway
A bible with a heart for the serious high school and college student. This award-winning Bible offers an age-and-interest appropriate presentation.
Psalms as Torah: Gordon J Wenham / Baker Academic
More than the best book for priming the pump of prayer, penning worship songs, or reading at funerals, this pithy tome convinces us that the Psalms are literally a Bible within a Bible. Must read.
Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination Series / IVP
Michael Card is taking us through the gospels, one at a time, in this series that puts flesh and blood on the Word and even offers musical accompaniment. Probing the distinct character of each Gospel with heart, mind, and imagination, Card gifts us with a living Testament of Christ. Luke and Mark have released, with Matthew due out in June.