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Reliable Tools for Scripture Study

This list of resources align with the church’s theology and its approach to scripture.

Choosing scripture study resources for personal use requires discernment. This list of study tools has good overall alignment with the church’s theology and its approach to scripture.  


Discipleship Study Bible, NRSV—good scholarship made very accessible: top choice for congregations.  

HarperCollins Study Bible, NRSV—brilliantly done: clear, affordable and up-to-date. 

New Interpreter’s Study Bible, NRSV—clear, solid, sound, easy to use, and good for preaching.  

Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha, NRSV—the gold standard; used in colleges and seminaries.  

Oxford Access Bible, NRSV—a somewhat simplified version of the Oxford Annotated.  

Spiritual Formation Bible, (NRSV or NIV, from Zondervan)—good source of exercises and questions. 

Bible Dictionaries

Anchor Bible Dictionary—scholarly but accessible (multivolume). 

Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (2000)—an excellent one-volume work. 

HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, revised edition (1996)—a fine older one-volume dictionary with easy to read entries. 

Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible—the old standard scholarly reference dictionary (five volumes). 

New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible—in five volumes, the new standard reference tool, available on CD. 

Oxford Bible Companion—an excellent reference tool: clear, solid, and easy to use. 


An Analytical Concordance to the Revised Standard Version. Clinton Morrison, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1979. 

The Concise Concordance to the New Revised Standard Version. John R. Kohlenberger, New York: Oxford, 1994. 

Cruden’s Concordance, Revised edition. Alexander Cruden, Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2002. 

Nelson’s Complete Concordance of the New American Bible. Stephen J. Hartdegen, Nashville: Nelson; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1977. 

Nelson’s Complete Concordance of the Revised Standard Version Bible, 2nd edition. John W. Ellison, Nashville: Nelson, 1984. 

The NRSV Concordance Unabridged: Including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. John R. Kohlenberger, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991. 

Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Robert Young, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992 (1879). 

Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd edition. Edward W. Goodrick, John R. Kohlenberger, and James Swanson. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.  

Scholarly Introductions

Borg, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time—a clear and readable introduction to the Bible as understood in modern historical scholarship.

Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament—a solid, balanced textbook, very accessible. 

J.J. Collins, A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible—clear, scholarly, and readable. 

Fant, et al., An Introduction to the Bible, revised—best one-volume intro to the whole Bible available.

S.L. Harris, The New Testament: a Student’s Introduction—a standard, informative undergraduate text. 

Koester, History and Literature of Early Christianity—an introduction that interprets New Testament writings in the wider literary context of the development of early Christianity (more advanced).

Kugler and P.Hartin, An Introduction to the Bible—a comprehensive and accessible intro to the whole Bible.

Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament, third edition—superb analysis of each book of the New Testament as literature reflecting early Christian experience.

One-Volume Commentaries

The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, second edition—excellent source of background information, plus many pictures. 

Eerdman’s Commentary on the Bible—the 2000 edition is one of the best one-volume commentaries.  

Global Bible Commentary—an excellent way to get commentary from many cultural perspectives. 

Harper’s Bible Commentary—basic and affordable. 

HarperCollins Bible Commentary—simple and useful.  

International Bible Commentary—reflects many cultural perspectives.  

New Interpreter’s Bible One Volume Commentary—outstanding, readable, and recent (2010).  

Oxford Bible Commentary—superbly done, though a bit more technical. 

The People’s New Testament Commentary—detailed, readable, and one of the best for preaching/teaching.   

Multivolume Commentary Series

Abingdon New Testament Commentaries—solid volumes by reputable scholars. 

Belief Series, Westminster/John Knox—this series on books of the Bible is distinctive for its focus on theological issues. 

Interpreter’s Bible (Old Series)—though somewhat dated, still a valuable tool. 

The New Interpreter’s Bible—this multivolume set is a mainstay of preachers and teachers. A masterpiece of scholarship and relevant interpretation. 

Interpreter’s Concise Commentary—out of print jewel, small paperback volumes in a case (often available in used bookstores or 

Interpretation Series (Westminster/John Knox)—for pastors and teachers.  

Sacra Pagina (Liturgical/Michael Glazier Press)—excellent commentaries by world-class scholars; can be a bit more technical. 

Westminster Bible Companion Series—volumes in this series translate good contemporary scholarship in readable and congregationally useful ways.  

Wisdom Commentary Series (Liturgical/Michael Glazier)—a new series that plans to offer feminist commentary on every book of the Bible. 

Useful Study Series (or Volumes)

Barclay’s Daily Study Bible—still a gem after many decades of use, but needs supplementing with up-to-date resources.  

The For Everyone series (Westminster/John Knox)—simple, relevant guides by scholar Tom Wright; a kind of 21st century Barclay’s Study Bible; mildly evangelical.    

John Hayes and Keith Schoville, Books of the Bible (Abingdon)—an easy, clear, sound survey of the whole Bible with study questions and a user-friendly format. Out of print, but used copies can be found online.  

Interpretation Bible Studies (Westminster/John Knox)—companions to the Interpretation Commentaries, very sound scholarship, and good theology. 

The Pastor’s Bible Study (Abingdon)—excellent companion volumes to the New Interpreter’s Study Bible. 

Push It! series (United Church Press)—thought-provoking, young adult-oriented Bible studies. 

20/30 Series Bible Study For Young Adults (Abingdon)—nicely designed, young adult-oriented, Community of Christ-compatible theology.  

3V series (Abingdon)—excellent series for senior high school students. 

Scholarly Journals

Interpretation—many helpful articles, short sermons, and book reviews in each volume. 

Catholic Biblical Quarterly—excellent, the flagship journal of the Catholic Biblical Society, featuring superb scholarship. 

Journal of Biblical Literature—standard journal of recent Biblical scholarship, advanced and technical. 

Word and World—each issue focuses on a single topic; includes solid Biblical exegesis useful for preaching (a Lutheran journal).  


Anthony J. & Charmaine Chvala-Smith, Introduction to Scripture—a course in Community of Christ’s Ministry and Priesthood series. Textbook and videos on a flash drive give a comprehensive introduction to scripture and introduce basic interpretation. 

D.J. Harrington, Interpreting the New Testament—excellent, straightforward guide to exegetical method; out of print, but available used. 

Hayes and C. Holladay, Biblical Exegesis (third edition)—single best guide to the craft of biblical interpretation.

Johnson, Living Jesus—blends excellent New Testament scholarship with Christian spiritual formation.

J.W. Rogerson & Judith M. Lieu, The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies—a superb survey of the current field of biblical scholarship.


Bernhard W. Anderson, The Unfolding Drama of the Bible—a clear and beautiful overview of the theological meaning of the whole Bible by one of the premier 20th century American Old Testament scholars. 

Raymond Brown, The Birth of the Messiah—a masterful and exhaustive study of the nativity texts in the New Testament. 

Raymond Brown, The Death of the Messiah—thorough, characteristically clear, and theologically thoughtful analysis of the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ crucifixion. 

Walter Brueggemann, The Bible Makes Sense—a clear, reflective introduction to making sense of difficult texts in the Bible, by one of the premier contemporary Hebrew Bible scholars. 

Bruce M. Metzger, Breaking the Code—one of the finest short studies of the Book of Revelation available: simple, inexpensive, comes with leader’s guide and is based on sound scholarship. 

Mark Allan Powell, The Fortress Introduction to the Gospels—a valuable, thoughtful volume on the background and message of the four Gospels. 

Marion Soards, The Apostle Paul (Paulist)—an older but excellent intro to the Pauline letters.  

Garry Wills, What Paul Meant—a clear and energetic introduction to Paul and his writings. 

Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament, third edition—superb analysis of each book of the New Testament as literature reflecting early Christian experience.

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