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HarperCollins Bible Commentary - Revised Edition [Hardcover]

By James L. Mays (Author)
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Item description for HarperCollins Bible Commentary - Revised Edition by James L. Mays...

Revised and updated, this information-packed single-volume Bible commentary draws on the wisdom and scholarship of the world's best scholars to present a book-by-book analysis of the text. 25,000 first printing.

Publishers Description

The Bible -- sacred scripture, literary classic, historical document. No matter how it is viewed, it remains the basis of much of Western culture. This fully revised edition of the HarperCollins Bible Commentary is the most up-to-date reference book of its kind for understanding and interpreting the meaning of the Bible. The accessible and highly readable format sets a new standard for excellence.

The Commentary covers all of the Hebrew Bible, as well as the books of the Apocrypha and those of the New Testament, and thus addresses the biblical canons of Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. its innovative format covers the books of the Bible in three ways:

General essays setting the literary, cultural, and historical context for the entire Bible

Articles introducing major sections of the Bible

Commentaries on the individual books themselves by the finest contemporary biblical scholars

The HarperCollins Bible Commentary is unprecedented in its clarity, organization, and insight into the Bible. Helpful cross-references to its companion, the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, mean that readers will have all they need to explore the riches of the Scriptures for years to come.

Every section of the Commentary offers concise and authoritative guidance that will enable the reader to return to the text equipped to understand and appreciate the Bible more fully. Each of the eighty-three contributors to this splendid volume is a leading expert in his or her field and a member of the Society of Biblical Literature. They have produced a volume that belongs in homes, schools, houses of worship, and libraries -- wherever there is a Bible.

General editor James L. Mays is the Cyrus McCormick Professor of Hebrew and the Old Testament Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He has served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is a widely respected author and editor.

Citations And Professional Reviews
HarperCollins Bible Commentary - Revised Edition by James L. Mays has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 95
  • Library Journal - 11/15/2000 page 33
  • Choice - 05/01/2001 page 1603
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 72

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HarperOne
Pages   1203
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.41" Width: 6.44" Height: 2.3"
Weight:   3.15 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 21, 2000
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0060655488  
ISBN13  9780060655488  

Availability  0 units.

More About James L. Mays

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! James L. Mays, Ph.D. is the Cyrus McCormick Professor of Hebrew and the Old Testament Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He has served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is a widely respected author and editor of books and commentaries.

James L. Mays has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Old Testament Library

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Reviews - What do customers think about HarperCollins Bible Commentary - Revised Edition?

Worth My Money  Oct 20, 2006
I've read the Bible using both the Harper Collins Study Bible, and the JPS Study Bible, in addition to getting my degree in Religious Studies and the fact that there was still new and interesting information that illuminated my reading in almost every section is a testament to how much is contained in this book. It is extremely scholarly, but is still reverent to Christian & Jewish traditions. The essays in the introduction are wonderful, especially the one about how there is both diversity and unity in the Bible which is often overlooked by source & historical critical methods. It also finds the right balance between being deep enough for serious scholars and being written in a style that is approachable for the average person.
One of the Best Commentaries Available  Jun 2, 2004
I have a number of reference books that I use rather frequently for scripture study. Without a doubt, the two volumes I refer to most are THE HARPER-COLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY and HARPER BIBLE COMMENTARY. I find these two volumes to be the most helpful tools for Bible study and homily preparation. The commentary is set up by biblical book and is divided into three sections: The Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha. Each book of the Bible has its own short commentary, based on chapter and verse of scripture. This volume also has short articles placed throughout the commentary on various subjects in the Bible. Each commentary and/or article is written by a biblical scholar and many of the authors are among the best known names in Biblical studies. Many of the entries also have small bibliographies so that readers can get more detailed information if need be. The Harper-Collins Bible Commentary is an indispensable tool for students of Biblical studies, people involved in preaching and teaching of scripture, and anyone interested in a more in depth look at the Bible.

Of all the commentaries available, the Harper -Collins is probably the most ecumenical. The scholars who contribute to the volume represent not only the best in Biblical scholarship, but a number of different faiths. The information is rather straightforward and does not represent any one faith tradition, but the information presented could easily be used in any denomination.

This is one of the best  Jun 28, 2003
I have loads of Bible commentaries, and this one is absolutely fantastic, and totally worth the price. It is different from many commentaries in its approach, in that the various authors focus almost exclusively on the texts as literature, an approach which, particularly in the Old Testament, yields hundreds of interesting and enlightening insights which just are not present in others, and frankly, which never would occur to you or me otherwise. I used it as a resource while teaching an Old Testament class last year and I quickly came to regard it as indispensable. It does not delve into historical or contextual issues much (for that, you should get the sister volume, the Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, which is also amazing, or perhaps the IVP Bible Background Commentary by Craig S. Keener), but is fantastic in its own unique way.

Some Christians are reluctant to purchase commentaries that are not written explicity from a "faith-perspective", but I have to say that although this is a scholarly work, I do not regard it as incompatible at all with a devout faith in the inspired nature of the writings discussed. It is true that the writers use the NRSV translation for their Biblical text and this is usually a big turn off for some folks, but if you can overlook that, you'll get a lot out of it. For the devout student looking to assemble a great resource library, this book might be coupled with a more theological, faith-based commentary (the AMG Concise Bible Commentary by Don Fleming is an excellent choice), and of course the HC Bible Dictionary I mentioned above. And while I'm on the resource library thing, I might as well also recommend that serious Bible students check out the English Standard Version translation of the Bible.

Anyway, the HC Bible Commentary is an invaluable, thoughtful, and penetrating analysis of The Bible. You'll never read The Bible the same way again.

A good single-volume commentary  Jun 17, 2003
The HarperCollins Bible Commentary, published in 2000, is a good volume to have sitting on one's shelf. So far as one-volume commentaries are concerned, this one is accessible, authoritative, and well conceived and written. 'The Commentary covers all of the Hebrew Bible, as well as the books of the Apocrypha and those of the New Testament, and thus addresses the biblical canons of Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Its innovative format covers the books of the Bible in three ways.'

These three ways include general essays that set context (literary, historical, sociological, etc.), major sections of the Bible, and individual commentaries on each book.

This book is the product of a cooperative effort between HarperCollins Publishers (a major publisher in the field of biblical and religious material, both scholarly and popular) and the Society of Biblical Literature (the major academic group of biblical scholars, of which I am a member). The range of contributors is international in scope, as well as incorporating the views of scholars and researchers from many faith traditions and points of view regarding the biblical text.

The general editor is James L. Mays, professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. Associate editors include Joseph Blenkinsopp, Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Jon D. Levenson, Wayne A. Meeks, Carol A. Newsom, David L. Petersen, and Gene M. Tucker - a list of names second to none in the field of biblical studies, and a testament to the authoritative nature of this book, as well as its depth and accessibility.

'The positions and approaches presented in this volume represent the mainstream of scholarship typical of the Society of Biblical Literature; eccentric and improbable positions are avoided. The individual commentaries and articles, however, do express the learning and judgment of their authors as scholars. As a result, the volume includes a rich diversity of biblical scholarship. Those who use this Commentary encounter the variety that characterizes the continuing work of scholarship on the Bible rather than the single approach of one school of interpretation.'

This is meant to be a companion to the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, a book widely used as in homes, libraries, churches and classrooms for background material and ready reference. I had always considered the Dictionary to be a companion volume to the HarperCollins Study Bible, one of the more authoritative and annotated volumes of the New Revised Standard Version around (because Oxford University Press dragged its heels at getting the NRSV out in their version, HarperCollins has managed to steal Oxford's old pre-eminence). This Commentary is designed to be a companion volume to any English Bible, not just the HarperCollins versions, and not just the NRSV.

The introductory essay talks about the Bible as a whole, its history and development, with particular attention given to the stages of writing and development. For those studious enough to have compared Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Jewish Bibles, one finds many things that are different - the order of the Old Testament, for instance, is not the order of the Hebrew Bible, hence it is inaccurate to call the Old Testament the Hebrew Bible, and vice versa. The ordering makes a difference. Also, the apocryphal books (and sections in canonical books) have an ambiguous relationship both with the Jewish and Christian canons. To this discussion, Fred Craddock (the author of the introduction) concludes that the canon serves a purpose, whichever canon one might be speaking of.

'The community of faith embracing the canon has said yes to certain books and no to others. Individual preferences among believers has not altered that fact. ... Each community in each generation does not create its own Bible. The church exists in time and over time with traditions and memories received and passed along. The closing of the canon ensures that the process will not cease and that no one will chop down the family tree, no matter how strange the birds nesting in its branches.' After illuminating essays, the commentary is arranged in general order by broad section: Biblical History (those books that give a narrative historical tone, Genesis - Chronicles); Psalms and Wisdom (included in this are the books of Job and Song of Songs); the Prophetic Works (the major and minor prophets); the Apocrypha (Catholic and Orthodox); New Testament Narratives (gospels and Acts); and Books in the Form of Letters.

My general practice is to disapprove of reliance on one commentary only. For depth and breadth of interpretation, one really needs to consult many different treatments of texts. However, for many, the limitations of time and finances prevent having a number of separate commentaries on individual biblical books, much less a range of commentaries on each one. I think that the HarperCollins Bible Commentary will be to those who are looking for insight and assistance in interpretation but haven't the resources for research a worthwhile volume as companion to their Bible.

Correction to My January 2001 Review  May 11, 2001
My somewhat negative comments about an earlier version are attached to this revised version. I would like to clarify my comments. This 2000 version is a significant rewrite of the 1988 Harper's Bible Commentary, also edited by James Mays. The 1988 version is listed as out of print, but I saw it in a bookstore today. Although the two differ in their detailed commentaries, they follow the same basic approach with the same general articles.

My earlier comments were about a 1962 version published as Harper's Bible Commentary, edited by William Neil. It is considerably shorter (about 500+ pages) and contains no general articles or other supporting materials. It was re-published in 1997 as "Pocket Bible Commentary." I may have confused this version with the 1988 version when I wrote my comments.

I did not mean to imply that I thought the current version was only 2 stars in value.

Bible users need a good commentary, but there not many single-volume commentaries in a reasonable price range that are written for the non-scholar. Combined with the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, most users should find this book useful in expanding their understanding of the Bible.


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