Mathews, Kenneth A. Genesis 1-11:26. New American Commentary. Edited by E. Ray Clendenen. Nashville: B&H, 1996. Mathews, Kenneth A. Genesis 11:27-50:26. New American Commentary. Edited by E. Ray Clendenen. Nashville: B&H, 2005.
If you buy only one commentary on Genesis, this should be that commentary. I’ve repeatedly been impressed by Mathews’s exegetical judgment. He also has a sensitivity to the literary features of the text. In addition, the commentary is lengthy enough for him to survey and evaluate multiple views on contested passages. He is conservative on matters such as authorship. Finally, though Mathews is thorough, the commentary is still readable for the interested layman.
Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary. Edited by David A. Hubbard. Dallas: Word, 1987. Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 16-50. Word Biblical Commentary. Edited by David A. Hubbard. Dallas: Word, 1994.
Wenham provides a more technical commentary than Mathews. He provides more comment on Hebrew grammar. His exegetical judgment and literary sensitivity is also good. He critiques source criticism in the introduction to the first volume, though he consistently reports the views of source critics in the Form/Structure/Setting sections of the commentary. He is weak on the historicity of the opening chapters of Genesis. Nonetheless, the commentary is full of valuable insights and is worth owning.
Steinmann, Andrew E. Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Edited by David Firth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy, 2019.
Steinmann is one of my favorite Old Testament commentators. He is skilled in his handling of the Hebrew language, of narrative, and of theology.
Waltke, Bruce K. and Cathi J. Fredricks. Genesis: A Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.
Genesis is a narrative, and it should be read with the skills necessary for interpreting narratives. Reading Waltke’s commentary on Genesis is a good way to develop those skills. His emphasis is on the literary features of the text.
McKeown, James. Genesis. Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary. Edited by J. Gordon McConville and Craig Bartholomew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.
In the Two Horizons series, the first half of the commentary provides brief passage by passage commentary through the book. The second half of the commentary looks at the theological themes of the book, the relation of the book to biblical theology in the rest of the canon, and the significance of the book for relevant systematic theology topics. I think this is a good approach that more commentaries should follow. I picked this commentary up in connection with my study of land because it seemed more sensitive to that theme in Genesis than other commentaries.
Currid, John D. Genesis. 2 vols. Evangelical Press Study Commentary. Webster, NY: Evangelical Press, 2003.
Currid also refreshingly adopts a straightforward, historical reading of the creation account. Despite being two volumes, Currid’s commentary is not as full as others. He is nonetheless careful, conservative, and insightful. I’m not as impressed with his application sections.
Kidner, Derek. Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Edited by D. J. Wiseman. London: Tyndale, 1967.
Kidner’s commentary is brief, but Kidner knows how to pack a great deal of insight into a small space.
Leupold, H. C. Exposition of Genesis. 2 voils. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950.
Leuipold was a stoutly conservative Lutheran scholar. Though the liberal positions he spars with are now dated, his arguments against them are still worth reading. Leupold’s comments are more atomistic than literary. Nonetheless, there is great value in many of them.
Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Edited by R. K. Harrison. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990. Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 18-50. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Edited by Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.
Hamilton’s commentary, like Mathews and Wenham, is a major two volume work. I don’t find it as helpful for the following reasons: (1) too often Hamilton simply notes the available interpretive options without mounting arguments for or against them. I find it most helpful to read different commentators who argue for their positions; (2) sometimes Hamilton spends his space on ANE parallels rather than opening up the text; (3) related to this, Hamilton’s comments are sometimes disjointed. He doesn’t examine the literary unfolding of the text as Mathews and Wenham do. Nonetheless, his comments still have value. He also has helpful “New Testament Appropriations” sections.
Updated 2/19/2022 to add Steinmann’s commentary.
Jimmy Tuck says
I would add both of Allen P. Ross’s commentaries on Genesis (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary and Creation and Blessing) and John J. Davis’s Paridise to Prison. Others of note are Henry Morris, Cassuto, Westermann, Sarna, and Walton (some of these I do not agree with their views and am writing against them), but I find them helpful with the Hebrew or with representing their positions.
Thanks for these additions. I do use Ross’s Creation and Blessing on occasion and have found it helpful. I find Westermann and Sarna quoted enough by evangelical commentators that I wonder if I’m already getting their best stuff without having to sort through the chaff. The times I’ve consulted Sarna, I’ve not felt that he was giving me anything that I hadn’t already gotten elsewhere. I do wish I had been able to use Cassuto more. I have found help from him on the occasion that I’ve used him. I’ve been so unimpressed by Walton in the opening chapters of Genesis that I’ve not used him further in. Have you found him better as the book progresses?
Rafael Beltran says
Last week, I purchased Kenneth Mathews’ commentaries and so far, I like them very much. Today, I purchased Walton’s commentaries for its good reviews, but I stopped reading by chapter 3 and returned it to the store. He talks more about the three little pigs and the Truman Show than about Jesus Christ. I was looking for an application commentary, but like you said, it is so unimpressive.