Lightfoot’s Commentary on Galatians

Joseph Barber Lightfoot [1828-1889], Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.

I recently digitised a hard-to-find article by F.F. Bruce:

F.F. Bruce, “Bishop Westcott and the Classical Tradition,” Spectrum 11 (September 1978): 19-21. [Click to download this article in PDF]

Bruce’s thesis in this article is that training in the Classical tradition (typically that of the old Public School in the UK) is essential if one is to become truly competent in New Testament Greek. I have grave reservations about this idea – and I think the recent history of both linguistics and biblical studies in general have proved him wrong. I guess that Bruce is not alone in thinking his our own training was “the best” for his particular field. Nevertheless, I think that this article is helpful for its discussion of three of the greats of Nineteenth Century New Testament scholarship, Westcott, Hort and Lightfoot. I was therefore delighted to find a number of their commentaries at Book Aid recently. The first to be uploaded is J.B. Lightfoot commentary on Galatians.

Joseph Barber Lightfoot [1828-1889], Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. A revised text with introduction, Notes and Dissertations. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1896. Hbk. pp.384. [Click to visit the download page]

I would be interested to hear what others think about Bruce’s thesis. Is a classical education a help or a hindrance to being a proficient student of New Testament Greek?

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

M’Clymont’s Introduction to the New Testament and its Writers on-line

James Alexander M’Clymont [1848-1927] provides a substantial introduction to the New Testament. I found it interesting that the author makes frequent references to J.J. Blunt’s Undesigned Coincidences as positive evidence of the New Testament’s historical accuracy and truthfulness. If you want to download Blunt’s book to explore his argument, click here. Thanks to Book Aid for providing a copy of this book for digitisation. This title is in the public domain.

Map Illustrating the Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul

James Alexander M’Clymont [1848-1927], The New Testament and Its Writers. Being an Introduction to the Books of the New Testament. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1893. Hbk. pp.288. [Click to visit the download page for this title]

Contents

  • Preface
  1. The New Testament
  2. The Gospels
  3. “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”
  4. “The Gospel According to St. Mark”
  5. “The Gospel According to St. Luke”
  6. “The Gospel According to St. John”
  7. “The Acts of the Apostles”
  8. The Epistles: The Epistles of St. Paul
  9. “The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians”; “The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians”
  10. “The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians”
  11. “The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians”
  12. “The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians”
  13. “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans”
  14. The Epistles of the Imprisonment; “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians”
  15. “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians”
  16. “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians”
  17. The Pastoral Epistles; “The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy”
  18. “The Epistle of Paul to Titus”; “The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy”
  19. “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews”
  20. The Catholic Epistles; “The General Epistle of James”
  21. “The First Epistle General of Peter”
  22. “The Second Epistle General of Peter”; “The General Epistle of Jude
  23. “The First Epistle General of John”; The Second Epistle of John”; “The Third Epistle of John”
  24. “The Revelation of St. John the Divine”
  • Appendix

Preface

The favourable reception accorded to The New Testament and Its Writers in its original form, as one of the series of Guild and Bible-Class Text-books issued by the Christian Life and Work Committee of the Church of Scotland, has encouraged the author to present it in a form more suitable for general readers. While serving other purposes, he believes it may be specially helpful to ministers and other teachers who are using the small edition in their Bible Classes….

For more New Testament resources go here.