The bottom line: A solid starting point that directs you to reliable Biblical resources on specific topics.
Commentary and Reference Survey is basically a handbook that guides you to other books, including roughly 900 commentaries.
Obviously, this is not a book that laypeople will necessarily read or will want to read. This is specifically for theologians, those in academia, pastors, teachers, seminarians and those with a keen interest in the Bible or specific Bible topics. While it provides trustworthy recommendations overall, there are some areas where the suggestions are average at best.
By far, the books greatest strength lies in its categorization of Biblical resources by sub-genre and by the audience that it serves. For example, it details: (1) A “must-have” list of books each for everyday folks, seminary students and pastors (2) Preferred computer-based exegetical programs (3) A list of recommended general Bible commentary series and it further breaks the books down according to audience (e.g. practical application, technical analysis, and exegesis) (4) Broad suggestions for category overviews (e.g. The Pentateuch and the New Testament) (5) Specific suggestions for each of the Bible’s books with a further breakdown based on area of concentration (e.g. technical, exposition) (6) Special studies that focus on a particular issue. Essentially, no matter what topic you are interested in, you will find a reference here.
Ironically, what makes Commentary and Reference Survey strong is also where it fails. Because there are so many references in each category, picking between the different selections equates to throwing a dart on the wall blindfolded. Although the author does provide an algorithm of how he selected works for his book, once on a list, there is no objective way to gauge differences between titles. The commentary references are quite strong, but suggestions for other topics can be a mixed bag.
Commentary and Reference Survey will save you time and money by narrowing the field of selections for you. Certainly, this narrowing will be uneven throughout the course of the book, but it remains a solid choice and will serve you well in building a theological library.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal
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