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Commentaries are Bible resources meant to expound the understanding of scripture by exposing its meaning more clearly to the reader. Scripture takes preeminence over any commentary and remains the primary source of interpretation and the focus of the commentator. This essentially means that we should search Bible commentaries only as study aids where a scripture meaning is obscure to the reader. Or where we seek to understand the background of a Bible passage. How close a commentary is to scripture is determined by the faithfulness of its editors in keeping their focus on sound biblical rules of Interpretation. The following are some useful guides in determining if a commentary is reliable and useful for a Bible reader. First it is Important to understand the theology and statement of faith of the editorial board or religious organization that sponsors the commentary. Some commentaries are sponsored by organizations whose theological views contradict or distort scripture Secondly, for scholarly commentaries, the biblical training, experience and reputation of the editors is important. Commentary work requires skills and a sound grasp of original bible languages. This is not to suggest that only theologians can write commentaries but that their input is essential. Thirdly, whereas modern language updates may be useful to convey dynamic thought and illustrations, some respected old commentaries such Matthew Henry have a rich grasp of Bible languages and are simple to understand and therefore useful for meditative study despite its Old English. The fourth factor to consider is the depth of biblical analysis they contain. Some commentaries are topical or limited to a some books of scripture and others are purely scholarly. The interest of the reader will be useful In determining the choice. The fifth concern is the sources from which the editors borrowed. Some comentaries are based on a particular Bible translation or manuscript which then limits their expository range. If the reader desires an exegetical commentary, they should seek one which carries a broad comparison of Bible translations. The sixth and final consideration is the faithfulness of the editors to sound biblical hermeneutics or rules of interpretation. This is perhaps an overiding consideration in determining the suitability of a commentary. If for instance the editors deny the Holy Trinity or hold an unbiblical view of scripture doctrines, then the commentary should be rejected. The rule of inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture must be central to any useful commentary
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