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Recommendations for Bible Commentaries 



Order of Contents

Our Reading Lists  3
More Reading Lists
.     Short  5
.     Medium  4
.     For the Advanced  4
.     Guides  4

.     of Older Well-Known Figures  6
.           In Latin  3
Reference Lists
.     Bibliographies, Reference Lists & Catalogues  17+
.     Guides to Reference Works  3
.     Bibliographies of Bibliographies  3
.     Bibliographies of Particular Authors  1

Libraries of Reformed Theologians  6




Our Reading Lists






More Reading Lists

Short Lists

Macleod, John – Some Favorite Books  Buy  1922

Macleod, the author of the classic Scottish Theology in Relation to Church History, gives 4-8 pages in background and commendation to 22 classic reformed, Christian works.

Duncan III, J. Ligon – ‘The Theological Student’s Books: Suggestions for Building a Core Library’, an appendix to Herman Witsius, On the Character of a True Theologian  Buy  1994

Kistler, Don – Why Read the Puritans Today?  1999  19 pp.

Kistler, in the midst of giving 10 reasons for reading the puritans, gives recommendations for few dozen puritan works.

Ferguson, Sinclair – Read any Good Books?  Buy  2005  27 pp.

Most of the booklet is an encouragement to read good books.  The recommendations amount to 28 under the 4 categories of: Bible Study, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Biography.

Sproul, R.C. – ‘Recommended Resources’  21 recommendations


Medium Length Lists

Packer, J.I. – ’50 Books J.I. Packer Thinks You Should Read’  

This is a list created by Crossway Publishing of all the Crossway books that Packer wrote recommendatory blurbs for.

Monergism – Reader’s Guide for the Christian Life

Perman, Matt – ‘What are Some Books that Desiring God Recommends?’  2006

Kayser, Phillip – Worldview Reading List  2009  26 pp.

This list emphasizes a presuppositional, Biblical worldview and Reconstructionism.


For the Advanced

A Seminary Reading List

by the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing).  This is the best of the best of theology from the older writers.

An Advanced Library for Ministers

by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon, at A Puritan’s Mind

A Lifetime’s Reading List

Entitled Books for People of the Book, by R. Andrew Myers

Reformed Systematic Theology

by Rev. Sherman Isbell.  This top-notch ‘course of readings’ in 31 subsections covers the first third of the topics in systematic theology up through General Revelation, Scripture, Apologetics, the Attributes of God, the Trinity, Predestination, and Creation.



Batson, Beatrice – A Reader’s Guide to Religious Literature  Buy  1968  188 pp.  Moody

“An introduction to the ‘classics’ of Christian literature from the Middle Ages and later, including the influence of Christian thought on outstanding literary works.  Concentrates on the 17th to 19th centuries.  Each chapter surveys the historical and cultural developments of a period, briefly mentions its literary masterpieces, and then analyzes several important religious literary works of the period.  Includes bibliography and index.” – Muether & Kepple

Branson, Mark – The Reader’s Guide to the Best Evangelical Books  Buy  1982

“A classified bibliography of ‘the best evangelical literature’ in over 50 ‘key categories of Christian life and thought’.  Each category has a brief bibliographical essay surveying the literature and an annotated list of books on the subject.  Limited to English-language and post-1950 titles.  Also scattered throughout are lists of the favorite books (personal and professional) of various evangelical leaders.  Has author index but no subject index…  A useful starting point for surveying evangelical literature.” – Muether & Kepple

Beeke, Joel

A Reader’s Guide to Reformed Literature: An Annotated Bibliography of Reformed Theology Buy  (Reformation Heritage Books, 1999)

Excellent.  Hand picked selections from the best of reformed history by a master.

Beeke, Joel & Randall J. Pederson – Meet the Puritans: With a Guide to Modern Reprints  Buy  2006

Brief bios of puritans with significant annotations on their reprinted works.  You’ll be tempted to use it as a devotional.


Reading Lists of Older, Well-Known Figures  (chronological order)

Leigh, Edward – pp. 50-65  of Body of Divinity (1662), Book 1, ‘Of the Scriptures’, chs. 3, ‘The Books of Scripture’ & 4. ‘Of the New Testament’

There are recommendations on Bible commentaries amongst his other analytical comments on the Biblical books.

Baxter, Richard – What Books Especially of Theology should one choose, who for want of money or time, can read but few?  from his Christian Directory (1673) Question 174, pp. 921-9

Baxter was one of the most well read (and prolific) authors of his day.  Andrew Myers has written a helpful article (9 pages) giving further background information on the (sometimes otherwise unknown) authors that Baxter lists and further of their works.  

Barlow, Thomas – Autoschediasmata, De Studio Theologiae [Of the Study of Theology], or, Directions for the Choice of Books in the Study of Divinity  (Oxford, 1699)

Barlow (c.1608-1691) was a reformed Anglican who was a teacher of John Owen.

Edwards, John – A Catalogue of Some Authors who may be Beneficial to Young Preachers and Students of Divinity  1705   7 pages

Edwards (1637-1716) was a reformed Anglican, the son of Thomas Edwards who wrote ‘Gangreana’ in the 1640’s.

Mather, Cotton –  A Catalogue of Books for a Young Student’s Library, in Manuductio Ad Ministerium: Directions for a candidate of the ministry. Wherein, first, a right foundation is laid for his future improvement; and, then, rules are offered for such a management of his academical & preparatory studies; and thereupon, for such a conduct after his appearance in the world; as may render him a skillful and useful minister of the gospel  1726, pp. 148-149

Wesley, John – A Christian Library: consisting of extracts from and abridgments of the choicest pieces of practical divinity which have been published in the English tongue, vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 2930  HTML  1749

This is not a bibliography, but an anthology.  Large extracts from the best practical works from Church history are given in full, in roughly chronological order.  Here is the Table of Contents:

1 – Early Church; John Arndt, ‘True Christianity’
2 – John Fox, ‘Book of Martyrs’
3 – Fox; Samuel Clark, ‘Supplement to Fox’s Martyrology’
4 – Clark; Bishop Hall; Robert Bolton

5 – Bolton; John Preston
6 – Preston; Richard Sibbes; Thomas Goodwin
7 – Goodwin; William Dell; Thomas Manton; Isaac Ambrose
8 – Ambrose, ‘Looking unto Jesus’
9 – Ambrose; Jeremy Taylor; 
10 – Nathaniel Culverwell; John Owen
11 – Owen; John Smith
12 – Smith; Bishop Sanderson
13 – Sanderson; John Worthington; Bishop Ken
14 – Joseph Alleine; Samuel Shaw; Shorter Catechism
15 – Samuel Clark, ‘The Lives of…’
16 – Clark; Rutherford, ‘Letters’; Anthony Horneck
17 – Hugh Binning; Matthew Hale; Simon Patrick
18 – Patrick; Richard Alleine
19 – Dr. Cave; John Bunyan
20 – Cowley; Dr. Goodman; Robert Leighton; Bishop Beveridge
21 – Isaac Barrow; John Brown; Matthew Poole
22 – Richard Baxter
23 – Tract; Molinos; Henry Moore; Stephen Charnock; Dr. Calamy; Henry Scougal
24 – Dr. Annesly; Richard Lucas
25 – Edward Reynolds
26 – Dr. R. South; E. Young; Howe; Juan D’avila; Parson
27 – Tillotson; John Flavel; Henry Hammond
28 – John Howe; Phillip Henry; George Trosse; John Eliot
29 – Lives of; Joseph Alleine; August Franck
30 – Norris; Johnathan Edwards

Willison, John – Recommended Sabbath Reading, from his A Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of the Lord’s Day  d. 1750

Murphy, Thomas – Recommended for a Minister’s Library  1877  from Pastoral Theology, pp. 144-147

Murphy (1823-1900) was an Irish-American Presbyterian who died in New Jersey.  Murphy’s Pastoral Theology is a classic.  Andrew Myers, in this article, has provided links (for one’s convenience) to many of the works in Murphy’s recommended list of books.


In Latin

Gessner, Conrad – Theological Partitions, the Last Book of the Universal Almanacs [Pandectarum]  (Zurich, 1549)

Gessner (1516-1565) was reformed and was a Swiss physician, naturalist, bibliographer, philologist and encyclopedist.  This was the 21st and last volume of his encyclopedia of general knowledge.  This volume is a massive theological bibliography.

“…a vast prospectus of materials for the study of theology, replete with citations of Aristotle, Lombard, the fathers and late medieval doctors–all cited under the topics of a theological system–was prepared fairly early in the development of Protestant theology by the Zurich encyclopedist, Conrad Gessner.  The influence of this work is difficult to assess, but the tendency Gessner documents is clear: as the Reformation succeeded in establishing churches and the era of confessional orthodoxy dawned, Protestants were drawn more and more to root their theology in tradition.” – R. Muller, PRRD, 2nd ed., p. 215 

Burman, Francis

A Deliberation on the Study of Theology that I may be Blessed  appended to A Synopsis of Theology, vol. 2 (Amsterdam, 1699), pp. 653 ff.

Ch. 1, ‘Of the Preparation to Theological Study’

Burman (1628-79).  Gives recommendations for fields ancillary to theology.  For a survey of Burman’s recommendations in these three chapters in English, see R. Muller, PRRD, 2nd ed., vol. 1, pp. 212-216.

Ch. 2, ‘Of Theological Study Itself’

Gives recommendations on systematic theology and numerous of its loci.

Ch. 3, ‘Of the Use and Exercise of Theological Study’

Includes recommendations on commentaries, preaching, etc.

Voet, Gisbert – chs. 5-8, ‘Of a Course of Piety in General and of the Piety of Students’, pp. 36-79  of Book 1 of Exercises and Library for the Student of Theology  (Utrecht, 1644)  The rest of the volume is a massive bibliographic guide to the other ancillary disciplines; see the table of contents.



Reference Lists


Bibliographies, Reference Lists & Catalogues  17+



Calmet, Augustine – ‘A Supplement to the Holy Library’  in Dictionarium Historicum, Criticum, Chronologicum, Geographicum Et Literale Sacrae Scripturae: Figuris XXX. Antiquitates Judaicas Repraesentantibus Exornatum. Supplementum Ad Dictionarium Historicum, Criticum, Chronologicum, Geographicum, & Literale Sacrae Scripturae  (Augustae Vindelicorum: Veith, 1736), vol. 4

Table of Contents

Part 1

On this work, see T.H. Horne, Manual, p. 1.



Orme, William – Bibliotheca Biblica: A Select List of Books on Sacred Literature; With Notices, Biographical, Critical, and Bibliographical  1824  516 pp.

This is one large annotated bibliography in alphabetical order by author.

Bickersteth, Edward – The Christian Student: Designed to Assist Christians in General in Acquiring Religious Knowledge, With a List of Books Suitable for a Minister’s Library  1829  645 pp.  Se especially ‘The Minister’s Library’  95 pp.

Horne, Thomas Hartwell – A Manual of Biblical Bibliography: Comprising a Catalogue Methodically Arranged of the Principal Editions and Versions of the Holy Scriptures, Together with Notices of the Principal Philologers, Critics and Interpreters of the Bible  1839

Lowndes’ British Librarian, or Book Collector’s Guide…  Class 1, Religion and its History  (London, 1839-42)  The table of contents is at the end.

Darling, James – Cyclopedia Bibliographica: A Library Manual of Theological and General Literature, vols. 1 (Subjects), 2 (A-H), 3 (I-Z)  1859

This is perhaps the most exhaustive bibliographical collection up to its day, including all of the older theological literature (reformers and puritans included).  See Hadidian, 1985, below for a continuation of this work.

Malcom, Howard – Theological Index: References to the Principal Works in Every Department of Religious Literature, embracing nearly Seventy Thousand Citations, Arranged under Two Thousand Heads  Boston 1868  485 pp.

“Includes about 70,000 titles under 2,000 specific subject headings.  Unfortunately, the entries  are given in a very abridged form… which makes identification difficult.” – Muether & Kepple

Hagenbach, Karl – Theological Encyclopaedia and Methodology: on the Basis of Hegenbach  1884  600 pp.  trans. & enl. by George Crooks & John F. Hurst

Hagenbach (1801–1874) was a liberal, Swiss/German historical theology scholar.

“A comprehensive work on theology which also includes many extensive bibliographies that list about 5,000 books.  Includes index.  Based on the original German work , enlarged by the addition of English and American titles.” – Muether & Kepple

Free Church of Scotland – Proposal for the Foundation and Formation of Libraries in the Manses of the Free Church of Scotland; With a Catalogue of Books, Revised and Recommended by William Cunningham and James Buchanan

K., J. – Abridged Catalogue of Books in New College Library, Edinburgh  1893  223 pp.

New College was the seminary of the Free Church of Scotland from its origins in 1843 to 1900.  The first half of the work lists the books by author, the second half is by topic.

Cave, Alfred – An Introduction to Theology: its Principles, its Branches, its Results and its Literature  1896  630 pp.

“An introduction to the study of theology which includes large bibliographies of recommended books of each section.  Includes English, German, and French works.  Author and subject indexes.  Strongest on biblical studies.” – Muether & Kepple

Hurst, John Fletcher – Literature of Theology: A Classified Bibliography of Theological and General Religious Literature  1896  618 pp.

Hurst (1834–1903) was an American bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, a historian, and the first Chancellor of the American University in Washington, D.C.

“Based on his 1882 work: Biblioteca Theologica.  An extensive classified bibliography of ‘the best and most desirable books in theology and general religious literature published in Great Britain, the United States, and the Dominion of Canada.’  Detailed classified arrangement, see nine-page table of contents.  Includes author and subject index.”



Morris, Raymond P. – A Theological Book List  Buy  1960

“Morris is selective and intended for librarians anxious to have all the main books for students.” – Owen Chadwick

“‘Produced by the Theological Education Fund of the International Missionary Council for Theological Seminaries and Colleges in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Southwest Pacific.’  Includes 5,472 works, primarily in English, considered to be basic for developing theological libraries in the Third World.  Detailed classed arrangement, author index, brief annotations.” – Muether & Kepple

Essential Books for Christian Ministry: Basic Readings for Pastors, Church Staff Leaders, and Laymen  Buy  1972  Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Lists about 1,000 titles, selected by the seminary faculty, in order to ‘assist students, alumni, and Christian lay workers in selecting the most helpful books for their libraries’ (preface).  Classified arrangement with brief annotations but no indexes…” – Muether & Kepple

Barber, Cyril J.

The Minister’s Library, 2 vols.  Buy  (Baker, 1974) 376 pp.  Vol. 1 goes up to 1970, vol. 2 covers 1971-1985.

Barber was an evangelical pastor who headed up Klock & Klock publishing, which has reprinted some of the best Christian theological literature in modern times. 

The Minister’s Library, vol. 3  covers 1986-2005

100+ Best Books for your Bible Study Library  Buy  2004  96 pp.

Hadidian, Dikran – Bibliography of British Theological Literature, 1850-1940  Buy  1985

“A selective list of British theological imprints.  Excludes most pamphlets.  Dates were selected to continue Darling’s bibliography (above) through to the end of the British empire.  An introductory essay provides a bibliographical study of the direction of British theology during this period.” – Muether & Kipple

Moo, Douglas – An Annotated Bibliography on the Bible and the Church  Buy  1986

“‘Compiled for the Alumni Association of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’ by the faculty of that seminary.  A substantial (112-page) bibliography listing books ‘most helpful to the local pastor,’ chosen from an evangelical theological perspective.  Classified arrangement with an author index.  While this is a useful list, the quality and extent of annotation, the bibliographical citation form, and the (implicit) criteria for inclusion vary greatly from section to section.  A more detailed table of contents is needed.” – Muether & Kepple

Sugg & Trotti – Building a Pastor’s Library  Buy  1991  Union Theological Seminary, which is liberal

“A revision of Essential Books for a Pastor’s Library (5th ed., 1976).  Intended to list subject areas which should be represented in a pastor’s library and to suggest, in each category, one or more important books.  Classified arrangement with brief annotations.  No indexes.” – Muether & Kepple

Martin, Robert – A Guide to the Puritans Buy  (Banner of Truth, 1997)

This bibliographic work consists of two parts: puritan writings organized by topic and then by book, chapter and verse of Scripture.  The number of puritan writings included is helpful, including most of what was reprinted up to 1997, especially the Banner of Truth sets, but so many more of the puritans have been reprinted since then, the work is dated.



Bauer, David – An Annotated Guide to Biblical Resources for Ministry  Buy  2011



Guides to Reference Works  3

Trotti, John – Aids to a Theological Library  Buy  1977

“Written as a guide for theological libraries, intends to stress the bibliographical, reference and book-buying resources that a theological library should have.  Classed arrangement, but no table of contents or index.  Earlier editions included a listing of scholarly periodicals in religion.” – Muether & Kepple

Gorman & Gorman – Theological and Religious Reference Materials, vol. 1, General Resources and Church History, vol. 2, Systematic Theology and Church History & vol. 3, Practical Theology  Buy  1984/5

This set includes everything and is not limited to conservative works.

“This is the best recent guide for the literature of church history and historical theology, but the second volume in the series must be used in conjunction with the first, since there is much material on church history in the first volume.  These two volumes provide detailed annotations for most reference works in church history, but the organization is poor.  Standard denomination bibliographies are dispersed throughout the volumes, but can be located through the indices.” – Richard Muller & James Bradley

Muether, John & Robert Kepple – Reference Works for Theological Research: an Annotated Selective Bibliographical Guide  Buy  3rd ed. 1991  250 pp.

“The authors are to be congratulated for the improvements introduced in this edition. Within its scope this volume represents the best available guide to the basic sources of Western scholarship on traditional Christianity.  It is highly recommended for seminary and theological college libraries.” — Richard Muller



Bibliographies of Bibliographies  3

Smith, Wilbur – A List of Bibliographies of Theological and Biblical Literature Published in Great Britain and America, 1595-1931: with Critical, Biographical and Bibliographical Notes  1931

“Note limits of coverage: ‘theology’ in strict ‘systematic theology’ sense; does not include church history or practical theology.  Lists only separately published materials.  Includes brief annotations and biographical information on the author of each bibliography.  Well done, but hard to use since entries are arranged by date.  Author index.” – Muether & Kepple

Barrow, John – A Bibliography of Bibliographies in Religion  Buy  1955

“Lists about 4,000 separately published bibliographies…  Covers up to about 1952, fairly complete to 1950.  Dated but not superseded.  Classified arrangement, (but no section for Systematic Theology) — use the detailed table of contents for specific subjects.  Title and author index.  Includes fairly good critical annotations and some information on the location of copies.” – Muether & Kepple

ed. Walsh, Michael – Religious Bibliographies in Serial Literature: a Guide  Buy  1981

“Lists 178 bibliographical tools which are published regularly…  Arranged alphabetically by title with subject and title indexes.  Includes lengthy annotations as to each item’s characteristics and usefulness.” – R. Kepple & J. Muether



Bibliographies of Particular Authors  1

Richard Muller

Richard Muller’s Works

Arranged topically, with links where available.  This is the largest bibliography of Muller’s writings on the net, though not quite exhaustive.  For something exhaustive up through 2013, see:

ed. Ballor, Sytsma, Zuidema, Church and School in Early Modern Protestantism: Studies in Honor of Richard A. Muller on the Maturation of a Theological Tradition  Buy  2013  800 pp.

Resources for Muller’s Writings



Libraries of Reformed Theologians  (in chronological order)  8

Gessner, Conrad

Leu, Keller & Weidmann – Conrad Gessner’s Private Library  Pre  (Brill, 2008)

Gessner (1516-1565) was reformed and was a Swiss physician, naturalist, bibliographer, philologist and encyclopedist.  This was the 21st and last volume of his encyclopedia of general knowledge.  This volume is a massive theological bibliography.

Zwingli, Huldrych

Leu & Weidmann – HuldrychZwingli’s Private Library  Pre  (Brill, 2019)

The Library of Heinrich Bullinger

The Library of Michael Wigglesworth

Wigglesworth was a New England puritan, known for his poem on the Day of Judgment.

The Library of the Mather Family

The Library of Thomas Shepherd

The Library of Jonathan Edwards

Smyth, Thomas – The Beginning of the Smyth Library & The Sale of the Smyth Library  in Autobiographical Notes, Letters and Reflections, pp. 111-132 & 495-506

Smyth (1808-1873) was a southern presbyterian elder and theologian in Charleston, SC at Second Presbyterian Church, alongside James H. Thornwell, John L. Girardeau and John Adger.  He had a renowned library; one of the largest personal libraries in America at the time.

The Library of David Hay Fleming

Fleming (1849-1931) was one of the preeminent historians of the Scottish Church.




Related Pages

Recommendations for Commentaries