I am praying about and planning the message series that I will preach in 2014. One of the books I plan to touch on or fully preach through is Ecclesiastes. It is a book that hits at the heart of our cultural landscape. But, then again, it seems to have always hit at most civilizations’ cultural landscape. Otherwise, the writer would not have written, “… there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
I began to ask around in person, through email, and on Twitter about what commentaries and books people turn to when studying Ecclesiastes. To help anyone else out there who is contemplating the same, I thought I would share the list of resources I plan to use. Please let me know what resources I’ve missed that should be considered.
And, by the way, Tim Challies has posted numerous lists about his top commentaries for various books of the Bible. You can find his list here that was–depending upon your theology–coincidentally or providentially just posted this week. Great list, Tim!
The Book of Ecclesiastes: New International Commentary on the Old Testament by Tremper Longman. This is perhaps the one that I am looking most forward to digging into and using. The NICOT is a great set, and I have no doubts that Longman will deliver well on Ecclesiastes as he does on everything else he writes.
The Message of Ecclesiastes (Bible Speaks Today) by Derek Kidner. The work by Kidner is normally close, if not at the top, of many lists on Ecclesiastes. It is an accessible work that hits a good spot for most pastors in their preparation.
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (New American Commentary) by Duane Garrett. Since its inception, I have enjoyed the New American Commentary set. I find this one to be a resource that not enough people have discovered.
Ecclesiastes: Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom & Psalms by Craig G. Bartholomew. One of the books that I love–and used in small groups while planting a church–is The Drama of Scripture, coauthored by Bartholomew. I expect that this will be a key resource for me to keep the text in the right perspective of its historical context.
Ecclesiastes: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary by Michael Eaton. The back cover reads, “Perhaps the only person entitled to comment on Ecclesiastes is a cynic who has revolted against the world in disillusionment and disgust.” Nice! I cannot wait to dig in with Eaton.
Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs (Teach the Text Commentary Series) by Edward Curtis. As the name of the series indicates, Baker Books has offered this one as a tool to effectively move you from text to teaching. It has a nice design that facilitates preparation. It is one that I’ll highlight again in a future post about how I am using it in my studies.
Commentary on Ecclesiastes: With Other Treatises by Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg. A departure from this rest, this is written by a German theologian from the 1800s. Whenever I preach through a Bible book, I try to find one out of the way commentary that will ensure I don’t fall into a studying rut.
Better: How Jesus Satisfies the Search for Meaning by Tim Chaddick. I recently posted about hearing Tim speak on his new book. With his personal background and current ministry in Los Angeles, I cannot imagine not accessing his thoughts on the book.
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Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. He earned a master of divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a doctor of ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as teaching pastor for the The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville, Tennessee.
His works include Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. He is also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, he has written the small-group studies Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.