Book Review | IVP Bible Background Commentary Set

Reading and understanding the Bible could be really tough at times. Written over a period of approximately 1,500 years by different authors and different times, the Holy Scriptures could be intimidating to dig upon, especially for new believers. Not to mention the thousands of years it took for the canons to have their full finality to what they are today.

I remember a pastor said when I was a young Christian that when reading the Bible, I should always consider the cultural and historical background of the text because it was written in ancient times and we are in the modern era. How could I know all those things when I am just a layperson and just starting my Christian walk? That’s when commentaries come in handy and are helpful, especially for those who have no formal education and scholarship in the texts of the Holy Scriptures. In this, I find the IVP Bible Background Commentary Set particularly helpful in knowing and dealing with especially difficult and deep Bible texts.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old and New Testament set provides historical, social, and cultural background for each passage of the Bible. These volumes gather and condense an abundance of specialized knowledge on the background of the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—making it available and accessible to ordinary readers today. Written by expert scholars John Walton, Victor Matthews, Mark Chavalas (Old Testament volume), and Craig Keener (New Testament volume), these invaluable resource gives readers deeper access to the meaning of Biblical text and clarity to obscure passages.

Some important features include:

  • Glossary of historical terms, ancient peoples, texts, and inscriptions
  • Maps and charts of important historical resources
  • Expanded explanations of significant background issues
  • Introductory essays on each book of the Bible

Final thoughts

The two-volume IVP Bible Background Commentary should be in the library of every Christian and faithful student of the Bible. The commentaries are comprehensive yet concise at the same time—covering much in a few words—making it very accessible to lay readers. You wouldn’t also be worried about theological bias from the authors—imposing their theological positions on the text like most commentaries and study Bibles—because the scope of these volumes tackles cultural and socio-historical backgrounds. I can’t express my appreciation highly enough for these volumes. These have become my go-to commentaries for Bible study along with the New Bible Dictionary and Commentary which are also published by InterVarsity Press.


Disclosure: A review copy of the IVP Bible Background Commentary Set (ISBN 9780000403100) was provided for review by InterVarsity Press, from whom you may purchase a copy.

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