Top 5 Commentaries on the Book of Genesis

from Jun 18, 2008 Category: Articles

The first five books of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Torah, are often called the Pentateuch. A helpful introduction to this part of Holy Scripture is the book From Paradise to the Promised Land by T. D. Alexander.

The first book of the Pentateuch is one of the most well-known books of the Bible. Understanding this first book, the Book of Genesis, is crucial to understanding the Old Testament and the entire Bible. There are a wealth of commentaries on Genesis. In this post, I will briefly describe five of the most generally helpful commentaries available on the first book of the Bible.

G_Wenham.jpg1. Gordon J. Wenham — Genesis 1-15 and Genesis 16-50 (Word Biblical Commentary, 1987, 1994).

The layout of the Word Biblical Commentary series is not the most reader friendly, but in the case of Gordon Wenham’s commentary on Genesis, it is certainly worth the trouble. Wenham writes from a generally conservative evangelical viewpoint. His exegesis is careful and detailed and always worth consulting.

Mathews.jpg2. Kenneth A. Mathews — Genesis 1-11:26 and Genesis 11:27-50:26 (The New American Commentary, 1996, 2005).

In recent years, Broadman & Holman have published a number of excellent commentaries in their New American Commentary series. In 2005, with the publication of the second volume of Kenneth Mathews’ commentary on Genesis, they added another outstanding contribution.

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3. Victor P. Hamilton — The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17 and The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50 (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 1990, 1995).

Like Wenham and Mathews, Hamilton writes from a generally conservative evangelical perspective. I rank Mathews slightly higher simply because Hamilton is a rather dry read. He is, however, always worth consulting.

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4. Allen P. Ross — Creation and Blessing (1988).

Although not technically a commentary, this volume by Ross is an invaluable resource for expositors. If you are a pastor, you should not be without this book.

Walton.jpg5. John H. Walton — Genesis (NIV Application Commentary, 2001)

It is difficult to decide what commentary should fill the number five slot, but in terms of general helpfulness, Walton’s commentary probably deserves it. The NIVAC series does not get into as many technical issues, but it excels in terms of bridging the gap between the original audience and the contemporary world. This commentary, then, will be of particular use to preachers and teachers.

Runners Up:

There are a number of other helpful commentaries on the the Book of Genesis. Among them are those by Bruce Waltke, Derek Kidner, Nahum Sarna, John E. Hartley, and Umberto Cassuto (Vol. 1, Vol. 2. Cassuto’s works are sometimes difficult to track down. The publisher’s website is here: (Vol. 1, Vol. 2). Sarna’s work is in the JPS Torah Commentary series, which is written from a Jewish perspective and is somewhat critical. This means that it must be used with great care and discernment.

Other “Top 5 Commentaries” blog posts:

OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra & Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

NEW TESTAMENT: The Gospel of Matthew, The Gospel of Mark, The Gospel of Luke, The Gospel of John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians & Philemon, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, The Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter & Jude, The Epistles of John, Revelation

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