• As with the best of the Tyndale Commentaries, if you can supply the interested but untrained mind, the author can supply enough teaching to help you walk away with a better understanding of the content, purpose and writer of the part of the Bible under consideration. This isn't a work for those who already have a deep knowledge nor for pastors looking for life applications. The introduction is brief, but this is because Dr. Kidner chose to address the many controversies that swirl around Ezra and Nehemiah at the end of the commentary rather than the beginning. I think this was a good choice as it let me focus on the text and the great rebuilding projects of the Temple, the Wall and in a sense Judaism itself. The most important parts of the text were the focus with the various name lists of geologies and who was building what part of the wall were given attention only as needed. It was refreshing to have an instructor who knew how to pay attention to the cruxes and inspirational messages of the text. The appendixes were quite interesting for someone how had little previous knowledge of the great debates that have raged over who, when, why and such the two books were written. Dr. Kidner did a nice job of presenting the various ideas, defending his positions and in the final analysis suggesting that if we lay waste to the text we don't really have much of a Bible left to study.
    1. A fine short commentary that covers the historicity, literary style and various versions of the book of Esther. This is a commentary designed for laypeople, Sunday School teachers and the like who have limited knowledge of this work on which the Jewish holiday of Purim is based. As with most of the Tyndale commentary series, the introduction is both easy to understand and informative. I wasn't aware, for instance, of the various editions of the book of Esther that have circulated or that the Old Testament contains a fairly basic version of the book. This is all explained and the additional material that is omitted from our Bibles is added to the end of the commentary which is useful.The idea of the casting of lots and using dice and such and how it relates to the book and the festival of Purim is also covered. The literary ideas of the book along with certain words or concepts that are repeated for effect though the work are explained nicely. For instance the idea of a Portion being an extra special blessing as opposed to just being one portion of an equal amount of food as in a portion of potatoes helped me understand not just the usage here but also elsewhere in Scripture. Overall this was a pleasant learning experience.
      1. The introduction, which covers 1 & 2 Chronicles in the digital copy of the Tyndale Commentaries I own, is superb. It orients the Chronicler and his work in time and space and also explains the different purpose of the book when compared to Samuel and Kings. The vast summing up of virtually the entire Old Testament also helps you appreciate even the seemingly impenetrable beginning and most of the ending of 1 Chronicles. The 9 chapters of vast genealogies at the start and the lists of Levites and others at the end are simply dull reading to a modern. While the commentator tried to make them interesting, he sometimes slipped into that droning voice of history teachers. Often a commentary is offered for a section of the text and then is somewhat repeated in the verse by verse commentary. When given the opportunity in the middle of the book to comment on David's reign, the commentary improves. Much like Leviticus and the second half of Joshua, it is tough to write an "introductory" commentary for 1 Chronicles. While brevity might have been given a higher priority in the commentary and 1 & 2 Chronicles combined in one volume, the obvious amount of effort that went into this work along with the fine introduction make it worth reading.
        1. An excellent introductory level volume on 1 & 2 Samuel. The author has the knack of making the books and her thoughts accessible but still offering fine insight. The introduction sets the Samuel books nicely into the broader history of the Biblical history of Israel. The explanation of the Deuteronomistic history was very useful. Much of the commentary was in depth and covered the passages both in insightful overviews and verse but verse, though there were times where the brevity of the volume showed and the commentary covered paragraphs instead of verses at a time. It is a credit to the author that I wished that she had an extra hundred pages to go deeper into every passage. In general the more important passages had the deeper commentary. When an unexpected question came up in Sunday School, I used Dr. Baldwin's explanation of how the Scriptures used certain story telling conventions to highlight important concepts inside history narratives. Since the question was on Genesis 1 & 2, I knew that what I had learned from her commentary was very useful indeed.
          1. These two commentaries in one volume are both solid though quite different. Judges is aimed more at the introductory student, while Ruth edges toward the technical but both are understandable for the layman. In Judges, Dr. Cundall is respectful of the text, but not afraid to explore several options or meanings where appropriate. His thoughts about the dating of the book were quite helpful. He is good at supplying explanations for some of the odder parts of the book like the two passages at the end. When I read something that has me scratching my head and after reading the commentary I have some understanding, I consider the commentator to have done a good job. Dr. Morris presented a more textual commentary based on the Hebrew in the short book of Ruth. I must admit some of this just was beyond my level or interest such as why the fields of Moab were singular or plural. However his discussion on the name of God as the Patriarchs knew it was very enlightening. He has a light enough touch to get away with the technical in this sort of volume.
            1. I suspect the book of Joshua is a difficult one to get right for the editor of an introductory level commentary series. Much of the first half has interesting events and Bible stories even a child can understand. The second half is often a jumble of completely unfamiliar and uninteresting names of cities, boundaries and deceased kings. It would require a writer with a high degree of technical expertise to make sense of this second half, but this might put the commentary beyond the reach of the layman. This commentary went the second route and while it tries to cater to the lesser student, it is ultimately more of a well executed mid level treatise on archeology and the Hebrew text than a spiritual work. If this were a commentary on the Doomsday book it would have a similar feel. There are extensive notes and many charts that show both the immense level of work that went into the volume and the level of understanding and interest in Jewish geography, both present and 3,300 years past, that is required to understand it. For the pastor and seminarian, this should be a great commentary and is in fact graded very highly on the commentary review sites for this reason. Even for the layman, this is worth working your way through especially if you already own the whole commentary series. The book isn't afraid to address questions of dating and the like though it does shy away from questions of morality that can trouble us in the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children in many cities. As you would expect the first half of the verse by verse commentary on events like the Jericho and Rahab or the sin at Ai is the best part of the book. Since this is likely to be what you are teaching a Sunday School class on, this commentary has value for the teacher.
              1. The Tyndale Commentaries are generally conservative and aimed at the layman. This volume pushes both boundaries just a bit. The introduction in particular tends to drone on a bit in that academic way as it goes fairly in depth engaging expert opinion on age and textual makeup of Deuteronomy. The idea of Mosaic authorship is generally dismissed, which is a bit far for me but reasons are given. Meanwhile the vocabulary had me chatting with my semi-smart phone for definitions. I suspect an seminary student could handle an of this with ease and there is something to be said for expanding knowledge and vocabulary even at the potential expense of a bottle of aspirin. The chapter and verse commentary were worth wading through the intro. Doctor Thompson did a fine job of answering questions about the text with in depth and often insightful comments. There were even some questions left over in my mind from Exodus and Leviticus that became clearer to my less than academic mind. While there are some bits of Deuteronomy that were not all that exciting, I'm sorry some laws lose something in 3000 years, and a few that were horrifying, the commentary managed to keep me pressing forward. The references to the New Testament were solid and appropriate and there were some theological moments that made me consider things in a new light. While this commentary might be a bit beyond the scope of a casual reader, it is worth attempting even if like me you have to occasionally gather in all your grey matter in one lump and demand that it all work together in order to understand some points.
                1. Doctor Wenham does a great job of answering lots of questions that come to mind when reading Numbers while still defending the inspiration of the text. It is fairly natural to wonder how many people were in that desert? Why are so many sacrifices so similar and what makes each type different? What route did Israel take across the desert? The author anticipates these types of questions and offers answers from several perspectives. While he might suggest that one answer fits the facts or the spirit of the Scripture better than others, he doesn't cram a single one down your throat. At the same time you are aware that you are studying God's Word and not simply taking an ancient lit course on say the Epic of Gilgamesh. There are thoughts of application and as always with the series how the text looks forward to the Christ. I suspect this volume could be used the basis for sermons on Numbers without fear of going astray theologically. I came away from reading Numbers and this commentary feeling that I had a significantly better understanding of the book and even the Pentateuch as a whole than I had going in. There were some times when I had to re-read some pages and look up some new words, but it was worth the effort. This is a fine read for a layman dedicated to learning more about the Lord and his Covenant with Israel and the World.
                  1. It is very difficult to create a helpful or even a readable commentary on Leviticus. Dr. Harrison has made a fine effort that falls a bit short of unqualified success. The volume is in some ways explanatory rather than expository and glosses over difficult passages with an idea that we should just trust the biblical account. The introduction is a solid if slightly simplistic conservative rebuttal of various forms of criticism to which the Pentateuch and its third book have been subjected by critics for the last few centuries. The meat of the book is the first half where the author does a fine job of explaining the various sacrifices in language even a layman can understand. He also ties the text to the New Testament which is a solid teaching principle for a Christian work, but here it seems a bit forced and sometimes repetitive. For a student with little knowledge of the Jewish sacrificial rituals this is a helpful section indeed. The Laws that generally form the second half of the book are also explained but in a way that is often merely a slight rewording of the text followed by simplistic comment or two and a repeat of an already worn link to the New Covenant. Again the idea is solid, but it would have been twice as effective if done half as often. To be fair there are some later chapters that are more informative, but most often they simply have pat answers that avoid the actual questions a learner would ask. As a part of a commentary series, this is a volume worth reading. It would be tough to recommend it as a stand alone volume when better choices seem to be available. If you already possess the Tyndale series or have access to it in a library and have limited knowledge of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, the commentary on the first half of the book is quite instructive.
                    1. The Tyndale Commentary series is known as a work that is rarely less than solid, conservative and aimed at the Sunday School teacher or the layman looking to learn more about the Holy Scripture. This volume fulfills all these requirements. The verse by verse commentary is that of an able Bible teacher in a workman like effort. It doesn't have the raw inspiration of some commentaries, but it certainly will teach and won't lead you astray. One frustration is the seemingly constant suggestions to read other commentaries for more on a particular idea or theme. To be fair, this might be helpful to a student in a library with dozens of other commentaries on Exodus. To someone who bought the Tyndale series because he didn't have a multitude of other commentaries, it can become annoying. The introduction is solid and worth reading, but what really stands out to a Christian who is more learning than learned is The Theology of Exodus. This fairly lengthy section feels both inspired and inspiring as Doctor Cole seems to cover the entirety of biblical thought from themes in the book of Exodus. If you have access to this volume, read this section even if you don't plan on using the rest of the work.