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Critical/Exegetical Commentaries

A guide for locating and using critical commentary sets available in Baylor University Libraries.

Distinguishing exegetical from general commentaries.

A Critical Bible commentary is a highly specialized work that focuses in detail on the text and its explication. Using the criteria from Stuart’s “Four Yardsticks”, we can make the following general observations. A critical commentary is almost always:

·         Size: One-to-one (or Several-to-one)

·         Detail: Detailed to In-depth

·         Level: Technical

While research methodology varies, depending upon the interests and specialization of the commentator, critical commentaries generally address the following kinds of issues:

·         Integrity of the text

o   What is the original form of the text? Attempts to zero in on most authentic (ergo reliable) version of the text in original languages

·         Textual and philological issues

o   Issues in translation of words or concepts, subtle shades of meaning, determining the most likely authorial/redactional intent for disputed text

·         Redactional issues (varies by methodology – most common in Historical/Critical works)

o   Theological slant and intent of final editor of biblical book

·         Literary and history of tradition issues (varies by methodology– most common in Historical/Critical works)

o   Discussion of prehistory of books component parts

·         Extensive discussion of background issues

o   World behind the text: historical, socio-political, cultural factors of authors/redactors

o   World of the text: historical, socio-political, cultural factors of recipients/characters

·         History of exegesis (varies by methodology)

·         Detailed treatment of text

o   Verse by verse or passage by passage treatment

·         Detailed analysis of disputed/controversial texts, with in-depth review of alternative scholarly interpretations

o   Preferred interpretation supported by cogent argument

·         Extensive scholarly bibliographies

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