Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

Favorite Biblical Commentaries III: Wisdom Books

III:  The Wisdom Books


  • H. H. Rowley, The Book of Job. (The New Century Bible) ( Repr., Eerdmans, 1981).  The late H. H. Rowley (1890-1969) was one of the greatest O.T. scholars British Baptists ever produced.  This commentary is still quite useful.
  • Gustavo Gutierrez, On Job:  God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent. (Orbis Books, 1987).  Not a commentary, but quite important for a liberation theology perspective.
  • Samuel E. Balentine, Job. (Smyth and Helwys Bible Commentary) (Smyth and Helwys Press, 2006).
  • J. Gerald Janzen, Job. (Interpretation: A Commentary for Preaching and Teaching) (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1985).


My mother taught me to pray the Psalms and they remain close to my heart.  I tend to approach them devotionally and not academically.

Jewish perspectives:

Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms:  A Translation with Commentary(W. W. Norton & Company, 2009).

Jewish Publication Society, The Book of Psalms. (rev. ed., Jewish Publication Society of America, 1997).


I know this will offend many, but Proverbs is one of my least favorite Biblical books.  Most of the Bible is on the side of the poor, but the Proverbs are constantly used by the wealthy and middle class to blame the poor for their poverty.  If a Christian dismisses the problem of poverty with a claim that the poor are all just lazy, s/he will probably quote from Proverbs.  So, I dislike this strand of wisdom writing very much.

  • Roland Murphy, Proverbs(Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 22) (Thomas Nelson, 1998).
  • Leo G. Purdue, Proverbs. (Interpretation: A Commentary for Preaching and Teaching) (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2000).

Ecclesiastes :

A Jewish perspective:

Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Orlitzky, Kohelet:  A Modern Commentary on Ecclesiastes. (Urjj Press, 2003).

Song of Songs/Song of Solomon (also listed in some Catholic Bibles as Canticles):

I like the Song of Songs very much, but haven’t consulted many commentaries on it.  I also tend to distrust pre-critical commentaries on this book since it has been so allegorized over the centuries.  Medieval rabbis interpreted this love song as describing God’s love for Israel and Medieval Christians saw it as describing God’s love for the Church. Martin Luther, who usually resisted allegory, thought it was an allegory about proper human government! (Seriously? With lines like, “Your breasts are like fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle?”) Meanwhile, critical scholars have been too absorbed over the question of whether this is one poem or many and conservative critics have spent too much energy deciding whether or not Solomon wrote it.  So, despite my love for this book, I don’t have many suggestions on commentaries.  I picked up the following two recent commentaries when preparing for a sermon series  recently.

  • J. Cheryl Exum, Song of Songs (Old Testament Library) (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2005).
  • Dianne Bergeant, The Song of Songs (Berit Olam Series) (Liturgical Press, 2001).

September 23, 2010 - Posted by | Bible, Biblical interpretation, book reviews


  1. Thanks for the kind endorsement. You made my day!

    Comment by Mike Aquilina | September 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for your hard work, sir!

      Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | September 24, 2010 | Reply

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