For Bible Study Nerds

Reader Appeal: Pastors, Teachers, Small Group Leaders

Genre: Bible Commentary

FBSN Rating: B+


The Holman Apologetic Commentary on the Bible series is unique in that its main focus is not verse by verse exposition of the Scriptures. In fact, book #1, The Gospels and Acts, actually leaves out discussion of significant portions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts.

That’s because the stated purpose of this series is to: “equip readers to defend the reliability of Scripture and the historic evangelical understanding of its teachings.” What that means, in a practical sense, is that the authors deliberately skipped some parts of the gospels and Acts and restricted their commentary to “verses known to be relevant to the topics of apologetics and biblical reliability.”

From a Bible Study Nerd perspective, that’s both mildly disappointing—and kind of exciting. My personal preference is to study Scripture as it was collected, not to cherry-pick my way through the verses in a book or series of books. Still, I can see the value of an “apologetics-only” approach—and I’m very impressed by the quality of commentary delivered by the scholars who wrote this one. They are dealing exclusively with the “hard sayings” and “difficult passages” of Scripture, and yet they offer thoughtful, challenging commentary on them all. That’s impressive.

“Some may say that it is best not to trouble tranquil waters,” says series editor, Dr. Jeremy Royal Howard. “If so many disciples and ministers are happily unaware of Bible difficulties, why stir the waters? One answer is that there are others who are eager to do the stirring for us, and would do so in hopes of convincing us that the Bible is unreliable…Another answer is that we are called by God to be equipped. If what we evangelicals believe about the Bible is true, surely it can withstand unblinking examination.”

That’s the kind of thinking I suspect most Bible Study Nerds would approve, and appreciate. At least I do.

Digging in, you’ll find that each commentary section in The Gospels and Acts follows a similar approach, beginning with summary statement of the critiques or challenges of the specified Scriptures. These are the views of the skeptics, the reasons why people choose not to believe. Then each scholar/author offers a response to the skeptic, delving in history and theology and language studies and more to give a realistic, relevant rapprochement to the questions raised.

Dr. Howard says in his introduction that he hopes to “encourage awareness and discussion of Bible difficulties that are not commonly mentioned from the pulpit or even the seminary lectern.” This is an admirable goal, and one The Gospels and Acts accomplishes, while still working from a baseline belief that the Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant in its original manuscripts. As such, this apologetic commentary is offers something unique to any Bible Study Nerd, and it’s one that’s easily recommended.


The Gospels and Acts by Michael Wilkins, Craig A. Evans, Darrell Bock, and Andreas Köstenberger; General Editor, Jeremy Royal Howard, Ph.D.

(B&H Publishing Group)



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