Commentary Survey for Public Domain Commentaries

New Testament Commentary Survey by D.A. CarsonDon Carson’s excellent New Testament Commentary Survey fulfils a very specific and valuable purpose: it evaluates modern commentaries and allows readers who have access to books to choose the best ones for them.

For Bible teachers in the Majority World, such surveys may be of less value. The commentaries recommended, even if they were available in their country, would cost far more than the average person could afford. Older commentaries, that are now in the public domain, are poorly covered (though understandably so, given the book’s purpose), often being dismissed with phrases like “The key insights have been incorporated into more recent works…”.

Given that the primary purpose of Theology on the Web is to provide good biblically-based resources for the Majority World and those without access to physical books, I want to find a way around this problem – with your help.

How You Can Help

I want to upload (on BiblicalStudies.org.uk) a survey of public domain biblical commentaries. This survey would identify the strengths and weaknesses of each. It would then rank them as suitable for (a) the general reader; (b) for ministers, or (c) for scholars.  Once the survey is completed I would ensure that the best commentaries are all available via BiblicalStudies.org.uk.

I am therefore seeking a number of contributors who would agree to evaluate commentaries on a biblical book, or group of books e.g. the Pastoral Epistles or the Minor Prophets.

Please let me know if you are interested in contributing to this Project by e-mailing me at [email protected] Please feel free to make comments and suggestions below. If you are not sure which commentaries might be in the Public Domain, I can help you to narrow down your list.


This Project was initially proposed on the Theology on the Web Facebook Group. I am grateful for the Group’s feedback, which has enabled me to refine its parameters.

Commentary on Philippians by Alfred Plummer

Ancient theatre - Philippi
Ancient theatre – Philippi. Photo Credit: MrPanyGoff

Alfred Plummer’s Commentary on Philippians has been reprinted many times, which I take as a confirmation of its ongoing value to Bible students. The text uses some Greek, but not enough to make it difficult for those with no knowledge of the original language to use. This title is in the public domain.

Alfred Plummer [1841-1926], A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. London: Robert Scott, 1919. Hbk. pp.115. [Click to visit the download page]

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Commentary
  • Index

Introduction

The passage of the Gospel from Eastern to Western civilization is an event of the highest importance and interest in the history of the Christian Church. With the exception of the extension of the offer of salvation from Jews to Gentiles, there is hardly anything of greater importance in the progress of Apostolic Christianity. It was an advance from a world in which the best elements of civilization were to be found in Judaism, to a world in which the best elements were centred in the art and literature of Greece, and in the military and political organization of Rome. Divine religion was seeking friendship with human philosophy and human law.

It did not come uninvited. Macedonia, half Greek and half Roman, took the initiative under special guidance from heaven. The Spirit intimated that St. Paul, Silas and Timothy were not to preach the word in Asia, Mysia, or Bithynia….

Introduction to Ezra by Frank Marshall

Map of Jerusalem to Illustrate the Book of Ezra by Frank MarshallThe Rev Frank Marshall is better known today for his role as a rugby football referee than as a theologian. Nevertheless this slim little volume, written to prepare students preparing for their Oxford and Cambridge exams, provides a very helpful introduction to the book of Ezra. It also includes four useful colour maps. This title is in the public domain.

Frank Marshall [1848-1906], The Old Testament: Ezra. London: George Gill & Sons, n.d. Hbk. pp.52. [Click to visit the download page]

Table of Contents

  • Introduction to the Book of Ezra
  • The Book of Ezra with Marginal and Foot notes
  • Comments on the Revised Version
  • Glossary
  • Appendix
  • Tables of Events in Ezra

Preface

The Book of Ezra is one of a series of manuals on the books of the Old Testament which are primarily intended for the use of Students preparing for the Local Examinations of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

The Introduction treats fully of the several subjects with which the Student should be acquainted, comprising full Geographical and Biographical Notes, historical references to the ancient monarchies of the Eastern world, and other important details, which are clearly set forth in the Table of Contents.

The chief alterations of the Revised Version are pointed out in footnotes, the Student being referred to the Revised Version.

In the Appendix will be found (1) a Commentary upon the most important differences between the Authorized and Revised Versions, the alterations being pointed out and explanations given of the reasons for the change ; (2) a Glossary of words and phrases, thus avoiding constant reference to the text and notes…

For more resources on the Book of Ezra visit this page