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Word Biblical Commentary – Strange Layout

I picked up used copies of the Word Biblical Commentary for Romans. I wanted to get James B.G. Dunn’s work to have another perspective from the New Perspective on Paul. Now, I think the layout for a commentary is pretty straightforward: verse, then comment on the verse. Maybe there will be an additional section for notes. Relatively easy.

So I am doing my prep work for my upcoming sermon series on Romans and I begin to look over the Word Biblical Commentary. What a strange layout! Here is how each paragraph is treated: Translation, Notes, Form & Structure, Comment, Explanation. To me, this is simply confusing and odd. Why do this? It is especially curious to separate “Comment” from “Explanation.” Even the commentary itself does not seem to know the reason for this distinction.

“For a clear exposition of the passage’s meaning and its relevance to the ongoing biblical revelation, the Comment and concluding Explanation are designed expressly to meet that need” (Editorial Preface).

It seems that the Word Biblical Commentary decided to go out of their way to make it more complicated to find the answers desired concerning a passage. I think there is a reason that no other commentary series has gone with this format. I am not the only one who has found this layout to get in the way of finding answers. The Best Commentaries website agrees with me. I thought this is worth sharing with other preachers and teachers so that they will know if they purchase a commentary from this series, they will have to do a little extra work.

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