Questions, Insights, & Responses

shared from and with users

#16 - Bible commentary vis a vis Bible dictionary

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.


Question/insight #16: "What is the difference between a Bible commentary and a Bible dictionary? If one has a limited amount of time to do research on the Bible Lesson, which one of the above would you recommend?" (7/26/98)

Response #16:

Commentaries and dictionaries have two distinctly different functions. Bible commentaries provide background, clarifying, summary, or interpretive (exegetical) information on a specific verse or a group of verses. Bible dictionaries provide background, clarifying, summary, or interpretive information on specific biblical words, names, or topics. Both provide introductory background material about the authorship, date of writing, and outline of each book of the Bible. Both are useful, but for Bible Lesson study, most likely a commentary may be able to better help put the verses in their proper context. Keep in mind that every commentary and every dictionary has its own particular editorial position. That is why I will almost always consult at least 2 or 3 commentaries or dictionaries to get the most balanced perspective.


Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer