Some Reliable Tools for Serious Scripture Study

Anthony and Charmaine Chvala-Smith
Updated December 2013

When discerning which Scripture study resources would be best for personal or congregational use, a good practice is to see how they align in method and approach with the church’s official statement on scripture, titled “Scripture in Community of Christ.” This resource is found in Sharing in Community of Christ, as well as on the church’s website:


Discipleship Study Bible, NRSV – good scholarship made very accessible: top choice for congregations

HarperCollins Study Bible, NRSV – brilliantly done: clear, affordable, up-to-date

New Interpreter’s Study Bible, NRSV – clear, solid, sound, easy to use, good for preaching

Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha, NRSV – the ‘gold standard,’ used in colleges and seminaries 

Oxford Access Bible, NRSV    –a somewhat simplified version of the Oxford Annotated

Spiritual Formation Bible (NRSV or NIV) – good source of spiritual formation exercises and questions

Bible Dictionaries

Anchor Bible Dictionary scholarly, but accessible (multi-volume)

Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (2000) – an excellent one-volume work

Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible – the old standard scholarly reference dictionary (5 volumes)

New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible in 5 volumes, the new standard reference tool, available on CD

Oxford Bible Companion an excellent reference tool: clear, solid, and easy to use

Scholarly Introductions

R. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament   – a solid, balanced textbook, very accessible

J.J. Collins, A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible – clear, scholarly, and readable

C. Fant, et al., An Introduction to the Bible, revised – best 1-volume intro to the whole Bible available

S.L. Harris, The New Testament: a Student’s Introduction – a standard, informative undergraduate text

R. Kugler and P. Hartin, An Introduction to the Bible – a thorough, accessible intro to the whole Bible.

One Volume Commentaries

Eerdman’s Commentary on the Bible the 2000 edition is one of the best 1-volume commentaries

Global Bible Commentary an excellent way to get commentary from many cultural perspectives

Harper’s Bible Commentary basic and affordable

HarperCollins Bible Commentary simply and useful

International Bible Commentary – reflects many cultural perspectives

New Interpreter’s Bible One Volume Commentary outstanding, readable, and up-to-date (2010)

Oxford Bible Commentary superbly done, though a bit more technical

The People’s New Testament Commentary –detailed, readable, and one of the best for preaching/ teaching  

Multi-volume Commentary Series

Abingdon New Testament Commentaries – solid volumes by good scholars

Interpreter’s Bible (Old and New Series) – both series are mainstays for preachers and teachers

Interpreter’s Concise Commentary – out of print jewel, small paperback volumes in a case (used bookstores

Interpretation Series (Westminster/John Knox) – for pastors and teachers

Sacra Pagina (Liturgical/Michael Glazier Press) – excellent commentaries by world-class scholars; can be
a bit more technical

Lectionary-Based Resources

Feasting on the Word: Preaching on the Revised Common Lectionary (12 volumes) –this resource is
invaluable for preaching and teaching. The volumes follow years A, B, and C of the lectionary cycle, and
provide a wealth of theological and exegetical information on weekly texts. Each text is explored from
theological, exegetical, pastoral, and preaching angles.

Feasting on the Gospels –companion volumes to the outstanding Feasting on the Word series; two volumes
on Matthew are available, others are forthcoming. 

Lectionary Based Websites

Seasons of the Spirit: – Highly recommended Christian Ed. material
that gives useful background on weekly texts.

Sermon helps: The Living Pulpit – commentary for preachers on weekly texts; from
a variety of perspectives. A free service to individuals, but fee-will donations are accepted.

Sermon helps: The Text this Week – Go to “link of the week” for good
background on weekly texts

Spiritual Formation:  – lectio divina on
weekly lectionary gospel texts from the Upper Room.

Vanderbilt University: – gives the readings from the Revised
Common Lectionary, but no commentary.

Denominational Sites

Anglican: – Helpful, brief comments on each of the weekly
Lectionary texts.

Lutheran: – offers good commentary for preaching.

Methodist: – click on Lectionary Planning Helps for commentary on weekly

Useful Study Series (or volumes)

Barclay’s Daily Study Bible – still a gem after many decades of use, but needs supplementing with
up-to-date resources.

The For Everyone series (Westminster/John Knox) – simple, relevant guides by scholar Tom Wright; a
kind of 21st century Barclay’s Study Bible; mildly evangelical    

John Hayes and Keith Schoville, Books of the Bible (Abingdon) – an easy, clear, sound survey of
the whole Bible with study questions and a very user friendly format. Out of print, but used copies can
be found online.

Interpretation Bible Studies (Westminster/John Knox) – companions to the Interpretation Commentaries,
very sound scholarship, good theology

The Pastor’s Bible Study (Abingdon) – excellent companion volumes to the New Interpreter’s Study Bible

The Push It! Series (United Church Press) – thought-provoking, young adult oriented Bible studies.

20/30 Series Bible Studies (Abingdon) – nicely designed, young adult oriented, compatible theology.

3V Series (Abingdon) – excellent series for Senior High.

Scholarly Journals

Interpretation many helpful articles, short sermons, and book reviews in each volume

Journal of Biblical Literature standard journal of recent Biblical scholarship, advanced and technical.

Word and World each issue focuses on a single topic; includes solid Biblical exegesis useful for preaching
(a Lutheran journal)


D. J. Harrington, Interpreting the New Testament – excellent, straightforward guide to exegetical method;
out of print, but available used.

J. Hayes and C. Holladay, Biblical Exegesis (3rd ed.) – single best guide to the craft of biblical

L. Johnson, Living Jesus – blends excellent New Testament  scholarship with Christian spiritual formation  

M. R. Mulholland, Shaped by the Word –a counterbalance to over-intellectualized Bible study


Bernhard W. Anderson, The Unfolding Drama of the Bible –a clear and beautiful overview of the
theological meaning of the whole Bible by one of the premier 20th century American Old Testament

Bruce M. Metzger, Breaking the Code  – one of the finest short studies of the Book of Revelation available:
simple, inexpensive, comes with leader’s guide, and based on sound scholarship.

Mark Allan Powell, The Fortress Introduction to the Gospels – a valuable, thoughtful volume on the
background and message of the four Gospels.

Marion Soards, The Apostle Paul (Paulist) – an excellent intro to the Pauline letters.

Garry Wills, What Paul Meant – a clear and energetic introduction to Paul and his writings