During my years in the ministry I have often been asked to provide a listing of my personal reference favorites. I have to admit that it is a very difficult decision to provide such a listing since there are so many excellent reference materials available today, in written, audio, video or other electronic formats. Furthermore, I have been rather self-indulgent in collecting both basic and rare editions over a period exceeding 40 years. I have taken the liberty to list here some basic references which I believe are generally sound. The list is not intended to be all inclusive, but only to suggest some starting points. Everyone will develop their own personal favorites as their interests develop.

I strongly encourage you to accumulate a substantial personal library. One way to "get serious" about the Bible is to invest in it: develop a personal set of resources that will be at your fingertips whenever you need them. Books are generally not expensive, and you'll be getting into the habit of "taking the Bible even more seriously" as you compile your personal library of reference materials.

Phase 1—Initial List

Study Bible:

(Your choice: wear it out and then try another.)

Which version? All versions have their problems. The advantage of the classic King James is that they are well known and documented. I have tried them all, but have returned to my childhood favorite for an unusual reason: Scripture memory. I'm personally glad that I did not commit myself to the various modern versions as they each became the current fad. They all had their advantages (at the time) but soon get eclipsed by the next.

I prefer to do my memory work in a version which I know will be around in future decades—despite scholastic fads. For serious work, you will retreat exegetically—with suitable crutches and aids—to the original Hebrew and Greek anyway. Current computer software makes this a snap.


Strong, James, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, New York, 1890.


Young, Robert, Analytical Concordance of the Bible, Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1964.


Halley, Henry H., The Pocket Bible Handbook, Henry H. Halley, Chicago, IL, 1944. Given to me when I was 10, it fostered an early serious interest in the Word.


The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols), Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1980.

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (3 vols), Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, 1980.


The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1975. One of my favorite and most useful background references.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (5 vols), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1979.

A Good Bible Atlas

(Look them over and take your pick…)

Computer Software

Many good packages available. Parsons, Logos, and Hermeneutica are probably the clear leaders for the serious student. Before spending the hefty price tags, however, you should explore The Blue Letter Bible on the Internet. It includes Hebrew, Greek, dozens of commentaries—growing weekly—totally hypertexted and word searchable, and it is free! Check it out.

[A word of caution: I recommend that you keep your personal notes by exploiting the facilities of your word processing programs, not with your Bible software. Bible tools have a way of continually improving and you may want to upgrade or change later without incurring the burden of "transferring" several years of note-taking from some proprietary format.]

Phase 2: Commentaries

Complete Commentary Sets

Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; Brown, David; Critical and Experimental Commentary (6 vols), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1948. (My first and still a favorite).

Spence, H.D.M., and Exell, Joseph S., The Pulpit Commentary, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1950.

Barnes, Albert, et al, Barnes Notes, Blackie and Sons, London, 1851. (Reprinted by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI.)

Keil, C.F. and Delitzsch, F., Commentary on the Old Testament (translated from the German), (10 vols), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1978.

Meyer, Heinrich A.W., Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (11 vols), T&T Clark, London, 1883.

Individual Commentaries (By Book)

Personal Favorites:

* Barnhouse, Donald G.
* Bullinger, E.W.
* DeHaan, M.R.
* Feinberg, Charles L.
* Ironside, H.A.
* McGee, J. Vernon
* Morris, Henry
* Newell, Phillip R.
* Pink, Arthur W.|
* Walvoord, John F.

Use all with caution. Remember Acts 17:11!

(Comprehensive bibliographies on each book of the Bible are included with the notes accompanying each of our own Heirloom Edition Commentaries on tape.)

Phase 3: Special and Advanced Interest

Word Studies and Language Helps

Green, J., The Interlinear Hebrew/Greek English Bible (4 vols), Associated Publishers and Authors, Lafayette, IN, 1979.

Wigram, G.V., The Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament (Numerically coded to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1979.

Wigram, G.V., The Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament (Numerically coded to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1980.

Brown, Driver and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Numerically coded to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance), Associated Publishers and Authors, Lafayette, IN, 1981.

Brenton, Sir Lancelot C.L., The Septuagint Version: Greek and English, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1970.

Tregelles, S.P., tr., Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Numerically coded to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1979.

Wilson, William, Old Testament Word Studies, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 1978

Vine, W.E., An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (4 vols), Fleming H. Revell Co., Old Tappan, NJ, 1940.


Shafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology (8 vols), Dallas Seminary Press, Dallas, TX, 1947.

Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G., Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, Ariel Ministries Press, Tustin, CA, 1989.

Botterweck, G. J., & Ringgren, H., Theologocal Dictionary of the Old Testament (4 vols), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1980.

Kittel, G., and Friedrich, G., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 vols), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1976.

Brown, C., Dictionary of New Testament Theology (vol 3), Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1978.

Couch, Mal, (gen. ed.), Dictionary of Pre-Millennial Theology, Kregel Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996. (Caution! Be careful: I have contributed elements to this one.)


I have found that resources which can yield background on the Jewishness of the Scripture prove invaluable, and are too frequently overlooked in traditional resources. The following have been especially helpful to me.

Santala, Risto, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, Keren Ahvah Meshihit, Jerusalem, 1992.

Encyclopedia Judaica, Deter Publishing House, Jerusalem, Israel.

Stern, David H., Jewish New Testament, Jewish New Testament Publications, Jerusalem, Israel.

(I also have collected traditional materials such as the Talmud, and related rabbinical materials, but they have not proven particularly useful except for very specialized studies.)


Bullinger, E.W., The Companion Bible, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI, 1964.

Larkin, Clarence, Dispensational Truth, Larkin Estate, Glendale, PA, 1918.

Edersheim, Alfred, The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, MI, 1958.


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