Thursday, April 27, 2023

Great Commentaries on the Book of Jeremiah

Over the last year, I had the great privilege and joy of preaching all the way through the Prophecy of Jeremiah for Lanse Free Church. Fifty-two chapters in thirty-six messages! I know that I couldn't have done it without the help of my friends--specifically the friendly scholars who write such helpful commentaries on the Words of Jeremiah. Here is are the best ones I read over the course of our series with a few notes about each one.

If I could only have one commentary on Jeremiah, Wright's is the one I would pick. I can't overestimate how helpful it was for understanding and even applying the sacred text. Even when I reached a conclusion before reading Wright's treatment of a passage, I was relieved to find out that my instincts were "right." It is imminently readable, judicious, insightful, scholarly, and pastoral. Highly highly recommended.

Goldingay has forgotten more than I'll ever know about Jeremiah. I'm glad his commentary came out a few months before I began my series. He proceeds from a few assumptions that I don't necessarily share (which leads at times to conclusions I don't share), but he's incredibly knowledgeable and perceptive. I learned from every page. I knew I needed this tome after I read his summary book The Theology of Jeremiah: The Book the Man, the Message which I also referenced every week using the scripture index to make sure I wasn't missing something important. Read with discernment, these are highly recommended resources.

When I read the introduction to Lalleman's commentary, I understood for the first time the importance of 1:10 and its themes, especially the idea of the coming uprooting that Jeremiah was to predict for Judah. Hence the title of our series: Uprooted - The Words of Jeremiah. Thank you, Hetty Lalleman! I don't know what the series would have been like without your help.

This compilation of Ryken's sermons on Jeremiah's books was invaluable to me, especially as a guide to application and homiletical delivery. I hope I gave Ryken credit for all of the turns-of-phrases I used that captured the thought so well. The original sermons are also available to listen to at The Gospel Coalition website.

Wilcock was great for giving a different perspective on passages (without seeming forced or changing the overarching message) and providing of the overviews of large sections together. I was amazed at how much he could pack into a few pages without seeming to be stuffing anything into anything. He also had interesting ideas about the composition of the text and why parts of Jeremiah are placed where they are--always an interesting question since Jeremiah jumps around so much chronologically!

Deceptively short for all the good stuff it contains.

As always, Kidner is concise, precise, and incisive. While C.J.H.Wright has replaced his commentary in the series (and surpassed it, too), Kidner is always worth reading (that's why Wright quotes him so often!). 

Longman knows his Old Testament, and I'm always glad I read him. This one is more like the commentary notes at the bottom of a study Bible than a full commentary, but I don't know how many times, I found something there tidbit to ton that eventually made it into a message. 

Thompson's commentary was the gold standard before Wright and Goldingay came along (Goldingay replaced Thompson's in  the NICOT series), and it's obvious why. I'm glad I read every word.

I found this Bible study by Matthew S. Harmon at The Gospel Coalition to be really helpful, especially as an overview. I think that small groups would profit from using it over a twelve-week period.

Study Bibles

The best study Bibles out there have really helpful notes. I consulted these every single week: NIV Study Bible, NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, CSB Study Bible and the incredible translation notes at the NET Bible online. 

One of the things I enjoyed the most about studying Jeremiah was getting to know Jeremiah the man. I have read his book many times but never felt like I knew him. Slowing down to read his words carefully and discuss him (at least in my head) with these amazing scholars gave me a much better sense of who he was as a person and what his painful message was for the people he loved. I hope I'm a better follower of the LORD because of it.

Tolle Lege!