List of Biblical commentaries
This is an outline of
exegesis. Discussed are the salient points of Jewish, patristic, medieval, and modern commentaries, starting with the Jewish writers. The topic starts with the Targums, Mishna, and Talmuds. While these are not regarded as Bible commentaries in the modern sense of the word, they provide the foundation.
Greek literature, in general, got its inspiration from Moseswas an uncritical idea that dated back as far as Philo, the great Jewish writer of Alexandria. A visitor to Alexandria at the time when Christwas preaching in Galileewould find there and in its vicinity a million Jews using the Septuagintas their Bible, and could enter their magnificent Great Synagogue of which they were justly proud. Whoever had not seen it was not supposed to have beheld the glory of Israel. The members of their Sanhedrin, according to Sukkah, were seated on seventy-one golden thrones valued at tens of thousands of talents of gold; and the building was so vast that a flag had to be waved to show the people when to respond. At the head of this assembly, on the highest throne, was seated the alabarch, the brother of Philo.
Philo himself was a man of wealth and learning, who mingled with all classes of men and frequented the theatre and the great library. Equally at home in the Septuagint and the Greek classics, he was struck and perplexed by the many beautiful and noble thoughts contained in the latter, which could bear comparison with many passages of the Bible. As this difficulty must have frequently presented itself to the minds of his coreligionists, he endeavoured to meet it by saying that all that was great in Socrates,
Plato, etc. originated with Moses. He set about reconciling Paganphilosophy with the Old Testament, and for this purpose he made extensive use of the allegorical method of interpretation. He taught that many passages of the Pentateuch were not intended to be taken literally. In fact, he said that they were literally false, but allegorically true.
He did not make the distinction between natural and revealed religion. For example, Pagan systems may have natural religion highly developed, but, from a Judeo-Christian point of view, with much concomitant error. His exegesis served to tide over the difficulty for the time amongst the Hellenistic Jews, and had great influence on
Origen of Alexandriaand other Alexandrian Christian writers.
In order to get on the main lines of Jewish interpretation it is necessary to turn to the Holy Land. Farrar, in his "Life of Christ", says that it has been suggested that when Christ visited the Temple, at twelve years of age, there may have been present among the doctors
Jonathan ben Uzziel, once thought the author of the Yonathan Targum, and the venerable teachers Hilleland Shammai, the handers-on of the Mishna. [CathEncy|url=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04157a.htm|title=Commentaries on the Bible] The Targums (the most famous of which is that on the Pentateuch erroneously attributed to Onkelos, a misnomer for Aquila, according to Abrahams) were the only approach to anything like a commentary on the Bible before the time of Christ. They were interpretative translations or paraphrases from Hebrewinto Aramaicfor the use of the synagogues when, after the Exile, the people had lost the knowledge of Hebrew. It is doubtful whether any of them were committed to writing before the Christian Era. They are important as indicating the character of the Hebrew text used, and because they agree with the New Testamentin interpreting certain passages Messianically which later Jews denied to have any Messianic bearing.
The Mishna and Talmuds
Hillel and Shammai were the last "pair" of several generations of "pairs" of teachers. These pairs were the successors of the early scribes who lived after the Exile. These teachers are said to have handed down and expanded the Oral Law, which, according to the uncritical view of many Jews, began with Moses. This Oral Law, whose origin is buried in obscurity, consists of legal and liturgical interpretations and applications of the Pentateuch. As no part of it was written down, it was preserved by constant repetition (Mishna). On the destruction of Jerusalem several rabbis, learned in this Law, settled at Jamnia, near the sea, twenty-eight miles west of Jerusalem. Jamnia became the head-quarters of Jewish learning until 135. Then schools were opened at
Sepphorisand Tiberiasto the west of the Sea of Galilee. The rabbis comforted their countrymen by teaching that the study of the Law (Oral as well as Written) took the place of the sacrifices. They devoted their energies to arranging the Unwritten Torah, or Law. One of the most successful at this was Rabbi Akiba who took part in the revolt of Bar-Kokba, against the Romans, and lost his life (135). The work of systematization was completed and probably committed to writing by the Jewish patriarch at Tiberias, Rabbi Jehudah ha-Nasi "The Prince" (150-210). He was of noble birth, wealthy, learned, and is called by the Jews "Our Master the Saint" or simply Rabbi par excellence. The compilation made by this Rabbi is the Mishna. It is written in New Hebrew, and consists of six great divisions or orders, each division containing, on an average, about ten tractates, each tractate being made up of several chapters. The Mishna may be said to be a compilation of Jewish traditional moral theology, liturgy, law, etc. There were other traditions not embodied in the work of Rabbi, and these are called additional Mishna.
The discussions of later generations of rabbis all centred round the text of the Mishna. Interpreters or "speakers" laboured upon it both in
Jerusalemand Babylonia(until 500), and the results are comprised in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds. The word Talmud means teaching, doctrine. Each Talmud consists of two parts, the Mishna (in Hebrew), in sixty-three tractates, and an explanation of the same ( Gemara), ten or twelve times as long. The explanatory portion of the Jerusalem Talmud is written in NeoWestern Aramaic and that of the Babylonian Talmud in Eastern Aramaic, which is closely allied to Syriacor Mandaic. The passages in the Gemara containing additional Mishna are, however, given in New Hebrew. Only thirty-nine tractates of the Mishna have Gemara. The Talmud, then, consists of the Mishna (traditions from 450 B. C. till A. D. 200), together with a commentary thereon, Gemara, the latter being composed about A. D. 200-500. Next to the Bible the Babylonian Talmud is the great religious book of orthodox Jews, though the Palestinian Talmud is more highly prized by modern scholars. From the year 500 till the Middle Ages the rabbis (geonim) in Babylonia and elsewhere were engaged in commenting on the Talmud and reconciling it with the Bible. A list of such commentaries is given in "The Jewish Encyclopedia".
Simultaneously with the Mishna and Talmud there grew up a number of
Midrashim, or commentaries on the Bible. some of these were legalistic, like the Gemara of the Talmud but the most important were of an edifying, homiletic character ( Midrash Aggadah). These latter are important for the corroborative light which they throw on the language of the New Testament. The Gospel of St. Johnis seen to be steeped in early Jewish phraseology, and the words of Ps. cix, "The Lord said to my Lord", etc. are in one place applied to the Messiah, as they are in St. Matthew, though Rashiand later Jews deprived them of their Messianic sense by applying them to Abraham.
When the nature of the Talmud and other such writings is considered, it is not surprising that they produced a violent reaction against Rabbinism even among the Jews themselves. In spite of the few gems of thought scattered through it at long intervals, there is nothing in any literature so entirely uninviting as the Talmud. The opposition to these "traditions of men" finally took shape.
Anan ben David, a prominent Babylonian Jew in the eighth century, rejected Rabbinism for the written Old Testament and became the founder of the sect known a Karaites (a word indicating their preference for the written Bible). This schism produced great energy and ability on both sides. The principal Karaite Bible commentators were Nahavendi(ninth century); Abu al-Faraj Harun(ninth century), exegete and Hebrew grammarian; Solomon ben Yerucham(tenth century); Sahal ben Mazliach(died 950), Hebrew grammarian and lexicographer; Joseph al-Bazir(died 930); Japhet ben Ali, the greatest Karaite commentator of the tenth century; and Judah Hadassi(died 1160).
Saadiah of Fayûm (died 892), the most powerful writer against the Karaites, translated the Bible into Arabic and added notes. Besides commentaries on the Bible, Saadiah wrote a systematic treatise bringing revealed religion into harmony with Greek philosophy. He thus became the forerunner of Maimonides and the Catholic Schoolmen.
Solomon ben Isaac, called Rashi (born 1040) wrote very popular explanations of the Talmud and the Bible. Abraham Ibn Ezraof Toledo (died 1168) had a good knowledge of Oriental languages and wrote learned commentaries on the Old Testament. He was the first to maintain that Isaias contains the work of two prophets. Moses Maimonides(died 1204), the greatest Jewish scholar of the Middle Ages, of whom his coreligionists said that "from Moses to Moses there was none like Moses", wrote his "Guide to the Perplexed", which was read by St. Thomas. He was a great admirer of Aristotle, who was to him the representative of natural knowledge as the Bible was of the supernatural.
There were the two Kimchis, especially David (died 1235) of Narbonne, who was a celebrated grammarian, lexicographer, and commentator inclined to the literal sense. He was followed by Nachmanides of Catalonia (died 1270), a doctor of medicine who wrote commentaries of a cabbalistic tendency; Immanuel of Rome (born 1270); and the Karaites Aaron ben Joseph (1294), and
Aaron ben Elias(fourteenth century).
Isaac Abarbanel(born Lisbon, 1437; died Venice, 1508) was a statesman and scholar. None of his predecessors came so near the modern ideal of a commentator as he did. He prefixed general introductions to each book, and was the first Jew to make extensive use of Christian commentaries. Elias Levita(died 1549) and Azarias de Rossi (died 1577) have also to be mentioned. Moses Mendelssohnof Berlin (died 1786), a friend of Lessing, translated the Pentateuch into German. His commentaries (in Hebrew) are close, learned, critical, and acute. He had much influence, and was followed by Wessely, Jaroslaw, Homberg, Euchel, Friedlander, Hertz, Herxheimer, Ludwig Philippson, etc., called " Biurists", or expositors. The modern liberal school among the Jews is represented by Salomon Munk, Luzzato, Leopold Zunz, Geiger, Julius Fürst, etc. In the past Jews attributed both the Written and the Unwritten Torahs to Moses; some modern Jews may deny that he had anything to do with either.
The history of Christian exegesis may be roughly divided into three periods: the Age of the Fathers, the Age of Catenæ and Scholia (seventh to sixteenth century), and the Age of Modern Commentaries (sixteenth to twentieth century). Most of the patristic commentaries are in the form of homilies, or discourses to the faithful, and range over the whole of Scripture. There are two schools of interpretation, that of Alexandria and that of Antioch.
The chief writers of the
Clement of Alexandria,
Origen of Alexandria,
Dionysius of Alexandria,
Didymusthe blind priest,
Cyril of Alexandria, and
St. Pierius. To these may be added
St. Ambrose, who, in a moderate degree, adopted their system.
Its chief characteristic was the allegorical method. This was doubtless, founded on passages in the Gospels and the
Epistles of St. Paul, but it received a strong impulse from the writings of Alexandrian Jews, especially of Philo.
The great representative of this school was Origen (died 254). From his very earliest years Origen manifested such extraordinary marks of piety and genius that he was held in the very highest reverence by his father, himself a saint and martyr. Origen became the master of many great saints and scholars, one of the most celebrated being
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus; he was known as the "" on account of his incessant application to study, writing, lecturing, and works of piety. He frequently kept seven amanuenses actively employed; it was said he became the author of 6000 works ( Epiphanius, Hær., lxiv, 63); according to St. Jerome, who reduced the number to 2000 (Contra. Rufin., ii, 22), he left more writings than any man could read in a lifetime (Ep. xxxiii, ad Paulam). Besides his great labours on the Hexaplahe wrote scholia, homilies, and commentaries on the Old and the New Testament. In his scholia he gave short explanations of difficult passages after the manner of his contemporaries, the annotators of the Greek classics. Most of the scholia, in which he chiefly sought the literal sense, are unfortunately lost, but it is supposed that their substance is embodied in the writings of St. John Chrysostomand other Fathers. In his other works Origen pushed the allegorical interpretation to the utmost extreme. In spite of this, however, his writings were of great value, and with the exception of St. Augustine, no writer of ancient times had such influence.
The writers of the Antiochene School disliked the allegorical method, and sought almost exclusively the literal, primary, or historical sense of Holy Scripture. The principal writers of this school were
Eusebius of Nicomedia,
Maris of Chalcedon,
Theognis of Nicæa,
* Diodorus of Antioch,
Bishop of Tarsus, and his three great pupils,
Theodore of Mopsuestia,
* Theodore's brother
* St. John Chrysostom. With these may be counted
St. Ephraemon account of his preference for the literal sense.
The great representatives of this school were Diodorus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and St. John Chrysostom. Diodorus, who died Bishop of Tarsus (394), followed the literal to the exclusion of the mystical or allegorical sense. Theodore was born at Antioch, in 347, became Bishop of Mopsuestia, and died in the communion of the Church, 429. He was a powerful thinker, but an obscure and prolix writer. He felt intense dislike for the mystical sense, and explained the Scriptures in an extremely literal and almost rationalistic manner.
Nestorius, became a founder of heresy; the Nestorianstranslated his books into Syriacand regarded Theodore as their great "Doctor". This made Catholics suspicious of his writings, which were finally condemned after the famous controversy on The Three Chapters. Theodore's commentary on St. John's Gospel, in Syriac, was published, with a Latin translation, by a Catholic scholar, Dr. Chabot.
St. John Chrysostom, priest of Antioch, became Patriarch of
Constantinoplein 398. As an interpreter of Holy Scripture he stands in the very first rank of the Fathers. He left homilies on most of the books of the Old and the New Testament. There is nothing in the whole of antiquity to equal his writings on St. Matthew's Gospel and St. Paul's Epistles. When St. Thomas Aquinas was asked by one of his brethren whether he would not like to be the owner of Paris, so that he could dispose of it to the King of Franceand with the proceeds promote the good works of his order, he answered that he would prefer to be the possessor of Chrysostom's "Super Matthæum". This reply may be taken as the true expression of the high admiration in which the writings of St. Chrysostom have ever been held in the Church. St. Isidore of Pelusium said of him that if the Apostle St. Paul could have used Attic speech he would have explained his own Epistles in the identical words of St. John Chrysostom.
Other writers combined what was best in both these systems, some learning more to the allegorical and some to the literal sense. The principal contributors were
Isidore of Pelusium,
St. Gregory of Nazianzus,
St. Gregory of Nyssa,
St. Hilary of Poitiers,
* St. Jerome,
* St. Augustine,
St. Gregory the Great, and
St. Jerome, perhaps the greatest Biblical scholar of ancient times, besides his famous translations of the Scripture, and other works, left many useful commentaries, some of great merit. In others he departed too much from the literal meaning of the text. In the hurry of composition he did not always sufficiently indicate when he was quoting from different authors. and this, according to
Richard Simon, accounts for his apparent discrepancies.
The medieval writers were content to draw from the rich treasures left them by their predecessors. Their commentaries consisted, for the most part, of passages from the Church Fathers, which they connected together as in a chain, a "catena".
Procopius of Gaza(sixth century) was one of the first to write a catena. He was followed by
St. Maximus, Martyr(seventh),
St. John Damascene(eighth),
Nicetas of Constantinople(eleventh),
Theophylactus, Archbishop in Bulgaria (eleventh),
Euthymius Zigabenus(twelfth), and the
* writers of anonymous catenæ edited by
John Antony Cramerand Cardinal Mai.
Latin Catenists, Scholiasts, etc.
The principal Latin commentators of this period were the Venerable Bede, Walafrid Strabo, Anselm of Laon, Hugh of Saint-Cher, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Nicholas de Lyra.
Venerable Bede(seventh to eighth century), a good Greek and Hebrew scholar, wrote a useful commentary on most of the books of the Old and the New Testament. It is in reality a catena of passages from Greek and Latin Fathers judiciously selected and digested. Walafrid Strabo(ninth century), a Benedictine, was credited with the " Glossa Ordinaria" on the entire Bible. It is a brief explanation of the literal and mystical sense, based on Rabanus Maurus and other Latin writers, and was one of the most popular works during the Middle Ages, being as well known as "The Sentences" of Peter Lombard. Anselm of Laon, professor at Paris (twelfth century), wrote the " Glossa Interlinearis", so called because the explanation was inserted between the lines of the Vulgate. Hugh of Saint-Cher(Hugo de Sancto Caro), thirteenth century), besides his pioneer Biblical concordance, composed a short commentary on the whole of the Scriptures, explaining the literal, allegorical, analogical, and moral sense of the text. His work was called "Postillæ", i. e. "post illa" ("verba textus"), because the explanation followed the words of the text. Thomas Aquinas(thirteenth century) left commentaries on Job, Psalms, Epistles of St. Paul, and was the author of the well-known "Catena Aurea" on the Gospels. This consists of quotations from over eighty Church Fathers. He throws much light on the literal sense and is most happy in illustrating difficult points by parallel passages from other parts of the Bible. Nicholas de Lyra(thirteenth century), a converted Jew, joined the Franciscansin 1291, and brought to the service of the Church knowledge of Hebrew and rabbinical learning. He wrote short notes or "Postillæ" on the entire Bible, and set forth the literal meaning with great ability, especially of the books written in Hebrew. This work was most popular, and in frequent use during the late Middle Ages, and Martin Lutherwas indebted to it.
A great impulse was given to exegetical studies by the
Council of Viennewhich decreed, in 1311, that chairs of Hebrew, Chaldean, and Arabic should be established at Paris, Oxford, Bologna, and Salamanca.
Besides the major writers already mentioned the following are some of the principal exegetes, many of them Benedictines, from patristic times till the Council of Trent:
Isidore of Seville(seventh);
Julian of Toledo(seventh);
Remigius of Auxerre(ninth);
Bruno of Würzburg, a distinguished Greek and Hebrew scholar;
St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusians (eleventh);
Gilbert of Poirée;
Alexander of Hales(thirteenth);
Paul of Burgos(fourteenth to fifteenth);
Alphonsus Tostatusof Avila (fifteenth);
Ludolph of Saxony; and Dionysius the Carthusian, who wrote a commentary on the whole of the Bible;
Jacobus Faber Stapulensis(fifteenth to sixteenth);
Gagnaeus(fifteenth to sixteenth).
Erasmusand Cardinal Cajetan(sixteenth).
Modern Catholic commentaries
The influx of Greek scholars into Italy after the fall of Constantinople, the Christian and anti-Christian Renaissance, the invention of printing, the controversial excitement caused by the rise of Protestantism, and the publication of polyglot Bibles by Cardinal Ximenes and others, gave renewed interest in the study of the Bible among Catholic scholars. Controversy showed them the necessity of devoting more attention to the literal meaning of the text, according to the wise principle laid down by St. Thomas in the beginning of his "Summa Theologica".
It was then that the Jesuits, founded in 1534, stepped into the front rank to counter the attacks on the Catholic Church. The Ratio Studiorum of the Jesuits made it incumbent on their professors of Scripture to acquire a mastery of Greek, Hebrew, and other Oriental languages.
Alfonso Salmeron, one of the first companions of Ignatius Loyola, and the pope's theologian at the Council of Trent, was a distinguished Hebrew scholar and voluminous commentator. Bellarmine, one of the first Christians to write a Hebrew grammar, composed a valuable commentary on the Psalms, giving an exposition of the Hebrew, Septuagint, and Vulgate texts. It was published as part of Cornelius a Lapide's commentary on the whole Bible. Cornelius a Lapide, S. J. (born 1566), was a native of the Low Countries, and was well versed in Greek and Hebrew. During forty years he devoted himself to teaching and to the composition of his great work, which has been highly praised by Protestants as well as Catholics. Juan Maldonato, a Spanish Jesuit, born 1584, wrote commentaries on Isaias, Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel, Psalms, Proverbs, Canticles (Song of Solomon), and Ecclesiastes. His best work, however, is his Latin commentary on the Four Gospels, which is generally acknowledged to be one of the best ever written. When Maldonato was teaching at the University of Paris the hall was filled with eager students before the lecture began, and he had frequently to speak in the open air.
Great as was the merit of the work of Maldonato, it was equalled by the commentary on the Epistles by
Estius(born at Gorcum, Holland, 1542), a secular priest, and superior of the College at Douai. These two works are still of the greatest help to the student.
Many other Jesuits were the authors of valuable exegetical works, e.g.:
Francis Ribera of Castile(born 1514);
* Cardinal Toletus of Cordova (born 1532);
Manuel de Sá(died 1596);
Bonfrère of Dinant(born 1573);
Mariana of Talavera(born 1537);
Alcazar of Seville(born 1554);
Barradius"the Apostle of Portugal";
Sánchez of Alcalá(died 1628);
Nicholas Serariusof Lorraine (died 1609);
Lorinus of Avignon(born 1559);
Tirinus of Antwerp(born 1580);
Menochius of Pavia;
Pereira of Valencia(died 1610); and
Pineda of Seville.
The Jesuits were rivalled by
Arias Montanus(died 1598), the editor of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible;
Sixtus of Siena, O. P. (died 1569);
Johann Wild(Ferus), O. S. F.;
Dominic Soto, O. P. (died 1560);
Andreas Masius(died 1573);
Jansen of Ghent(died 1576);
Génébrard of Cluny(died 1597);
Antonio Agelli(died 1608);
Luke of Bruges(died 1619);
Calasius, O. S. F. (died 1620);
Malvenda, O. P. (died 1628);
Jansen of Ypres
Simeon de Muis(died 1644);
Jean Morin, Oratorian (died 1659);
Isaac Le Maistre(de Sacy);
John Sylveira, Carmelite (died 1687);
Richard Simon, Oratorian (died 1712);
Calmet, Oratorian, who wrote a valuable dictionary of the Bible, of which there is an English translation, and a highly esteemed commentary on all the books of Scripture (died 1757);
Louis de Carrières, Oratorian (died 1717);
Piconio, Capuchin (died 1709);
* Bernard Lamy, Oratorian (died 1715);
Pierre Guarin, O. S. B. (died 1729);
* Houbigant, Oratorian (died 1783);
William Smits, Recollect (1770);
Jacques Le Long, Oratorian (died 1721);
Dominikus von Brentano(died 1797).
During the nineteenth century the following were a few of the Catholic writers on the Bible:
John Martin Augustine Scholz,
Johann Leonhard Hug,
Arthur-Marie Le Hir,
Joseph Franz Allioli,
Daniel Bonifacius von Haneberg,
Franz Xavier Reithmayr,
Francis Xavier Patrizi,
August Bisping(his commentary on the New Testament styled "excellent" by Fulcran Vigouroux),
Louis Claude Fillion,
* Trochon (Introductions and Comm. on Old and New Test., "La Sainte Bible", 27 vols.),
Anthony John Maas,
Fulcran Vigouroux(works of Introduction),
Catholics have also published scientific books. There is the great Latin "Cursus" on the whole of the Bible by the Jesuit Fathers,
Karl Cornely, Joseph Knabenbauer, and Franz Hummelauer. The writings of Marie-Joseph Lagrange(Les Juges), Albert Condamin(Isaïe), Theodore Calmes(Saint Jean), Albin van Hoonacker(Les Douze Petits Prophètes).
For a list of Catholic publications on the Scripture, the reader may be referred to the "Revue biblique", edited by Lagrange (Jerusalem and Paris), and the "Biblische Zeitschrift', published by Herder (Freiburg im Breisgau). For further information concerning the principal Catholic commentators see respective articles.
The commentaries of the first Reformers, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Zwingli and their followers wrote on Holy Scripture during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
* Lutherans: Gerhard; Geier; Calov; S. Schmid;
J. H. Michaelis; Lange.
Drusius; Louis de Dieu(great Oriental scholar); Cappel; Samuel Bochart; Cocceius; Vitringa.
John Crelland Jonas Schlichting.
Hugo Grotius; Limbroch; John le Clerc(rationalistic).
* English writers: Brian Walton (London Polyglot),
John Lightfoot(Horæ Heb. et Talm.), both mines of learning; Pearson, etc., editors of "Critici Sacri" (compiled from the best Continental writers, Catholic and Protestant); Matthew Henry(a practical commentary on Old and New Testaments, modern editions derive from C19 versions, but Henry himself was 1662-1714); Mayer; S. Clarke (brief judicious notes); Wells; Gill; John Wesley; Dodd; W. Lowth; Robert Lowth; and the editors of the " Reformer's Bible".
During the nineteenth century:
* Priestly (1803);
* Burder (1809);
* D'Oyly and Mant (1820);
* A. Clarke (1826, learned);
* Boothroyd (1823, Hebrew scholar);
Thomas Scott(1822, popular);
* Bloomfield (Greek Test., with Eng. notes, 1832, good for the time);
* Kuinoel (Philological Comm. on New Test., 1828);
* Haevernick (1845);
* Baumgarten (1859);
* Trench (Parables, Sermon on the Mount, Miracles, N. T. Syn. — very useful); "The Speakers Commentary" (still valuable);
* Alford (Greek Test., with critical and exeg. comm., 1856, good);
Franz Delitzsch(1870), Ebrard Hengstenberg (1869);
* Wordsworth (The Greek Test., with notes, 1877);
* Keil; Ellicott (Epp. of St. Paul, highly esteemed);
* Conybeare and Howson (St. Paul, containing much useful information);
* Lange, together with Schroeder, Fay, Cassel, Bacher, Zoeckler, Moll, etc. (Old and N. Test., 1864-78);
* Lewin (St. Paul, 1878); Beet; Cook;
* Gloag; Perowne; Bishop Lightfoot (Epp. of St. Paul); Westcott.
There were many commentaries published at Cambridge, Oxford, London, etc. (see publishers' catalogues, and notices in "Expositor", "Expository Times", and "Journal of Theological Studies"). Other writers are
* A. B. Davidson,
Henry Barclay Swete,
"The International Critical Commentary" is a work by many distinguished American and English scholars. There are also the Bible dictionaries of Kitto, Smith, and Hastings. Many of these works, especially the later ones, are valuable for their scientific method, though not of equal value for their views or conclusions.
The English deists,
* Lord Herbert of Cherbury (died 1648),
* Lord Shaftesbury (died 1713),
* Woolston (1731),
Lord Bolingbroke(died 1751),
* Annet, and
* David Hume (died 1776), while admitting the existence of God, rejected the supernatural, and made desperate attacks on different parts of the Old and the New Testament.
They were refuted by these writers:
* S. Clarke,
George Lord Lytton,
* Butler. These replies were so effective that in England deism practically died with Hume.
But, in the meantime, the opinions of the English rationalists were disseminated on the Continent by Voltaire and others. In Germany the ground was prepared by the philosophy of Christian Wolff and the writings of his disciple Semler.
Great scandal was caused by the posthumous writings of Raimarus, which were published by Lessing between 1774-78 (The Fragments of Wolfenbüttel). Lessing pretended that he discovered the manuscript in the ducal library of Wolfenbüttel and that the author was unknown. According to the "Fragments", Moses, Christ, and the Apostles were impostors. Lessing was vigorously attacked, especially by Götze; but Lessing, instead of meeting his opponent's arguments, with great literary skill turned him to ridicule. The rationalists, however, soon realized that the Scriptures had too genuine a ring to be treated as the results of imposture. Eichhorn, in his "Introd. to the Old Test." (1789), maintained that the Scriptures were genuine productions, but that, as the Jews saw the intervention of God in the most ordinary natural occurrences, the miracles should be explained naturally.
Heinrich Paulus(1761-1850), following the lead of Eichhorn, applied to the Gospels the naturalistic method of explaining miracles. When Paulus was a boy, his father's became disturbed. The father constantly saw his deceased wife and other ministering angels, and he perceived miracles everywhere. After a time the young Paulus began to shake off this nightmare and amused himself by taking advantage of his father's weakness, and playing practical jokes upon him. He grew up with the most bitter dislike for everything supernatural. The Apostles and early Christians appeared to him to be people like his father. He thought that they distorted natural facts through the medium of their excited imaginations. This led him to give a naturalistic explanation of the Gospel miracles.
The common sense of the German rationalists soon perceived, however, that if the authenticity of the Sacred Books were admitted, with Eichhorn and Paulus, the naturalistic explanation of these two writers was quite as absurd as the impostor system of Raimarus. In order to do away with the supernatural it was necessary to get rid of the authenticity of the books; and to this the observations of Richard Simon and Astruc readily lent themselves.
G. L Bauer, Heyne (died 1812), and Creuzer denied the authenticity of the greater portion of the Pentateuch and compared it to the mythology of the Greeks and Romans. The greatest advocate of such views was W.M.L. De Wette (1780-1849), a pupil of Paulus, of the hollowness of whose method he soon became convinced. In his "Introd. to the Old Test." (1806) he maintained that the miraculous narratives of the Old Testament were but popular legends, which, in passing from mouth to mouth, in the course of centuries, became transformed and transfused with the marvellous and the supernatural, and were finally committed to writing in perfectly good faith.
David Strauss(1808-74) applied this mythical explanation to the Gospels.cite book | author = David Strauss |title = The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (translated into English by Marian Evans 1860 | publisher = Calvin Blanchard | year = 1835] He showed most clearly, that if with Paulus the Gospels are allowed to be authentic, the attempt to explain the miracles naturally breaks down completely. Strauss rejected the authenticity and regarded the miraculous accounts in the Gospels as naive legends, the productions of the pious imaginations of the early generations of Christians.
The views of Strauss were severely criticized by the Catholics, Kuhn, Mack, Hug, and Sepp, and by the Protestants Neander, Tholuck, Ullman, Lange, Ewald, Riggenbach, Weiss, and Keim. Baur especially, the founder of the Tübingen School, proved that Strauss ran counter to the most clearly established facts of early Christian history, and showed the folly of denying the historical existence of Christ and His transcendent personality. Even Strauss lost all confidence in his own system.
Baur, originated a theory which was for a time in great vogue, but which was afterwards abandoned by the majority of critics. He held that the New Testament contains the writings of two antagonistic parties amongst the Apostles and early Christians. His principal followers were
Zeller, Schwegler, Planck, Köslin, Ritsch, Hilgenfeld, Volkmar, Tobler, Keim, Hosten, some of whom, however, emancipated themselves from their master.
Besides the writers already mentioned, the following wrote in a rationalistic spirit:
* Ernesti (died 1781),
* Semler (1791),
* Berthold (1822),
* the Rosenmüllers,
* Crusius (1843),
* De Wette,
* Gesenius (died 1842),
* Bunsen (1860),
* J. C. K. von Hoffmann,
* Hitzig (died 1875),
* Schulz (1869),
* B. Weiss,
* H. A. W. Meyer (and his continuators Huther, Luneman, Dusterdieck, Brückner, etc.),
H. Holtzmann, and his collaborators
* Schmiedel, von Soden
Holtzmann, while practically admitting the authenticity of the Gospels, especially of St. Mark, explains away the miracles. He believes that miracles do not happen, and that the scripture are merely echoes of Old Testament miracle stories. Holtzmann was severely taken to task by several writers in the "International Critical Commentary". The activity of so many acute minds has thrown great light on the language and literature of the Bible.
Public domain Bible commentaries
With the rise of the
Internet, many Public Domainor otherwise free-use Bible commentaries have become available online. Here is a list of some of the commentaries:
* [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/barnes/ntnotes.html Notes on the New Testament] by
* [http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/?show=worksBy Commentaries] by
* [http://www.godrules.net/library/clarke/clarke.htm Commentaries] by
* [http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GillsExpositionoftheBible/ Exposition of the Bible] by John Gill
* [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/darby/synopsis/files/synopsis.html Synopsis of the Bible] by John Darby
* [http://www.ccel.org/h/henry/?show=worksBy Complete Commentary] by
* [http://www.kretzmannproject.org The Popular Commentary of the Bible] by
Paul E. Kretzmann, Ph. D., D. D.
* [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/jamieson/jfb.html Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible] by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown
* [http://www.gospelhall.org/bible/bible.php?passage=John+3&search=&ver1=kjv&ver2=&commentary=kelly&submit=Search Commentary] by William Kelly
* [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/robertson_at/wordpictures/files/wordpictures.html Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament]
* [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.html Explanatory Notes] by
Christian Classics Ethereal Libraryhas presented a unified reference tool to access many commentaries from different traditions in their [http://www.ccel.org/wwsb/ World Wide Study Bible] .
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