Sep 1, 2008

Top 5 Commentaries on the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah

7 Min Read

With the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the continuous historical narrative of the Old Testament comes to a close. These two books were originally a single work, and most commentaries treat them together. Ezra and Nehemiah cover an historical period of approximately 100 years, from the decree of Cyrus permitting the exiles to return to their homeland to Nehemiah's time in office. The following are five of the most helpful commentaries on Ezra/Nehemiah.


1. F. Charles Fensham --The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 1983).

Ezra and Nehemiah are challenging books for contemporary readers. The best commentaries for those seeking to understand these books are the commentaries by Fensham and Williamson (below). I find Fensham's work somewhat more helpful simply because the NICOT format is much more reader friendly.


2. H.G.M. Williamson -- Ezra/Nehemiah (Word Biblical Commentary, 1985).

Williamson's commentary is a scholarly standard on these books and should be consulted in conjunction with Fensham's work. There is more technical information in Williamson's work, but it is less user friendly due to the cumbersome format of the WBC.


3. Derek Kidner -- Ezra & Nehemiah (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries 1979).

For those seeking a good introductory level commentary on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, I would recommend Derek Kidner's commentary. He is one of those commentators whose work is consistently good.


4. Mervin Breneman -- Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (New American Commentary, 1993).

Breneman's commentary does not compare with Fensham's and Williamson's, but for those seeking helpful summaries of the more technical work that has been done on these books, his is a helpful work.


5. J.G. McConville -- Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther (Daily Study Bible, 1985).

I have benefited from many of McConville's works, and this brief introductory level commentary is no exception. I find Kidner somewhat more useful, but McConville should not be ignored.

Runners Up:

There are a number of other helpful commentaries on Ezra and Nehemiah. Among them are the introductory level commentaries by Raymond Brown (Nehemiah only) and Stan Evers. Seminary students will also want to consult the work of David J.A. Clines.

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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