Commentaries come in all different styles. There is the more technical variety, like the NIGTC. Then there is also the more pastoral commentaries, like the Pillar Commentary series. Finally, there are those that tend to be more devotional.
Gary V. Smith’s commentary on Ezra-Nehemiah and Esther, which I received from Tyndale to review, falls into the latter. It is based off of the New Living Translation and it’s goal is to: “…provide students, pastors, and laypeople with up-to-date, evangelical scholarship on the Old and New Testaments.”
It would have been much easier to have review this commentary if I were preaching through Ezra-Nehemiah and Esther. That is typically when I get the most use out of a commentary. However, I did spend some time perusing and interacting with the commentary.
The format of this commentary is very easy to follow. Each section provides the biblical text (NLT), a short section of notes, and then an overall commentary on the textual unit. The notes are similar to what you would find at the bottom of a study Bible. The commentary is typically short and succinct and provides a helpful summary and a few points of application.
Is it helpful?
That is probably the most important question to ask of a commentary. To answer this question of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary series it depends on who is reading it and for what purpose.
If a pastor is really trying to wrestle with a text and discover all the nuances, and discussion surrounding a passage this probably is not the best commentary. However, if a pastor is looking to get a “feel” for the text then this commentary would be very helpful.
I think this commentary would be MOST helpful to a Sunday school teacher. It goes into just enough depth to get a good grasp on the meaning but not so much that you have to be bogged down by technical arguments. The notes will support the teacher in writing a lesson, or adding meat to the pre-packaged variety. The commentary will provide a few application points to really place the text into our every day lives.
If you are looking for something technical this is not it. But for a basic, yet deeper, understanding of the Scriptures this series (and this particular volume) will assist you in your studies. You can buy it for only 22.79