An Inquiry - The Realiability and Soundness of John MacArthur's Bible commentaries?

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Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
John MacArthur if people were honest has written some good, sound books such as Ashamed of the Gospel, Twelve Ordinary Men, among others.

I figure some of the learned theologues on the board, might have a set of MacArthur's New Testament commentaries which all in total retail for about $450, and numbers 24 volumes.

My two-pronged inquiry is simple.

Is it worth the investment for a Reformed theologian (who will only invest in a finite number of Bible commentaries, at most probably three to four multi-volume sets?)

Or is the commentary sufficiently marred by dispensationalist presuppositions that the reader would be constantly challenged to filter out, which impedes the value of MacArthur as an authority?

Myself, I certainly don't see his interpretation on Revelation and the book of Daniel worth entertaining now. Granted, there are fundamentals of eschatology that unite even dispensationalists and the Reformed, whether we want to admit it or not.
 

bob

Puritan Board Freshman
I think that if you are only planning one getting a few sets, that I would pass on MacArthur. His commentaries are fine - he is a good exegete and the commentaries are sufficient in allowing a reader to understand the text and to be able to consider how the passages might apply to their daily walk. It is scholarly in that you can lean as your read and yet well written - you could pass it along to a young beleiver and they could benefit as well.

My favorites include Hendriksen, the Geneva Series (eclectic), and John Gill. I also use Calvin, Barnes, and Matthew Henry rather extensively.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
I agree with waht Bob has written, Ryan; Poole's commentary or Henry's is much better and a lot cheaper. You can even get Calvins for $100.00. in my opinion, MacArthurs theology is not truly reformed and based upon that, not reliable; If you want, I will sell you my set for much cheaper than wholesale.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
I have Calvin and enjoy it.

I might get Matthew Henry and Barnes in the printed matter, but I confess their accessibility via electronic mediums such as my cheap study bible software I got at Wal-Mart and the Internet have compelled me to put my money elsewhere thus far.

Thanks for the other recommendations. Some sound familiar though.

What about James Montgomery Boice? Any thoughts of his commentaries.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Actually you can get Poole, Henry, and Calvin for $0.00. CCEL.org has Henry and Calvin online. I can't remember where I found Poole but I have that one for free also. I think Poole is a great reference but I honestly found him to be a briefer version of Henry in my limited interaction.

Calvin is absolutely priceless.

As for what Bob saide about Hendrickson, I completely agree. You can get his NT commentary for about $100 on DVD. It's fully searchable.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Actually you can get Poole, Henry, and Calvin for $0.00. CCEL.org has Henry and Calvin online. I can't remember where I found Poole but I have that one for free also. I think Poole is a great reference but I honestly found him to be a briefer version of Henry in my limited interaction.

Calvin is absolutely priceless.

As for what Bob saide about Hendrickson, I completely agree. You can get his NT commentary for about $100 on DVD. It's fully searchable.
That's how I was aquainted with them initially, but they are in cheap Bible Study software format as well.

Frankly, I like the search query feature which can only come from a CD-ROM or Internet-based compilation of commentaries, but I have developed an affinity for the printed matter. Frankly, I read more attentively for longer periods of time when I read printed books as opposed to articles on a computer screen. In the information age, I think we can strike the balance and find some compliments to our books. But sometimes, there is seldom any substitute for having the tangible printed books available as references.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by Scott Bushey
:book2: Sell your shirt, buy a book!
The only time I would quote Erasmus.

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."
"”Erasmus
 

beej6

Puritan Board Sophomore
I echo those who endorse the Hendriksen/Kistemaker NT set.

There's no modern comparable OT set. I'd suggest Derek Thomas' little book, _The Essential Commentaries for a Preacher's Library_, just revised this year. He'd briefly recommend the TOTC/TNTC series, especially for lay readers; for whole-bible commentary sets, Calvin of course, Henry, Oden (_Ancient Christian Commentary..._), and Poole; and for the OT, Keil & Delitzsch.

The advantage of the TOTC set is that they are a bit older (70s-80s), are in paperback, and thus cheaper.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Actually you can get Poole, Henry, and Calvin for $0.00. CCEL.org has Henry and Calvin online. I can't remember where I found Poole but I have that one for free also. I think Poole is a great reference but I honestly found him to be a briefer version of Henry in my limited interaction.

I would be interested to know where you found Poole for free. I have his commentary in electronic form on the EPP, but it was not free.

Poole preceded Henry. Poole's Annotations are often briefer than Henry's comments, who built on what Poole and others before him had to say, but if you read Poole's Synopsis that's a whole different story.

Calvin, Henry and Poole are the top three Biblical commentataries to have on one's shelf, in my opinion.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Puritanhead
Originally posted by Scott Bushey
:book2: Sell your shirt, buy a book!
The only time I would quote Erasmus.

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."
"”Erasmus

So many books, so little time!
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Originally posted by Pilgrim
You can get Poole's commentary as a module for Online Bible.

Is that free?

Yes. Online Bible is free Bible software that has its roots way back in the DOS era. It has a lot more modules than E-Sword (particularly WRT to Reformed authors like Owen), but is a bit less intuitive to use, at least initially. The Poole commentary I see listed several places says it's NT, but the one I have is the whole Bible, and I think I just downloaded the one from the main site.
 

Ivan

Pastor
Originally posted by Scott Bushey
in my opinion, MacArthurs theology is not truly reformed and based upon that, not reliable; If you want, I will sell you my set for much cheaper than wholesale.

How much do you want for the set, Scott?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Pilgrim
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Originally posted by Pilgrim
You can get Poole's commentary as a module for Online Bible.

Is that free?

Yes. Online Bible is free Bible software that has its roots way back in the DOS era. It has a lot more modules than E-Sword (particularly WRT to Reformed authors like Owen), but is a bit less intuitive to use, at least initially. The Poole commentary I see listed several places says it's NT, but the one I have is the whole Bible, and I think I just downloaded the one from the main site.

Cool -- that's good to know. Thanks! :up:
 

Ivan

Pastor
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Originally posted by Pilgrim
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Originally posted by Pilgrim
You can get Poole's commentary as a module for Online Bible.

Is that free?

Yes. Online Bible is free Bible software that has its roots way back in the DOS era. It has a lot more modules than E-Sword (particularly WRT to Reformed authors like Owen), but is a bit less intuitive to use, at least initially. The Poole commentary I see listed several places says it's NT, but the one I have is the whole Bible, and I think I just downloaded the one from the main site.

Cool -- that's good to know. Thanks! :up:

Annnnnnddd....bookmarked! Thanks!

[Edited on 7-23-2006 by Ivan]
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
As far as NT sets go, I've been finding the Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC) series, edited by D. A. Carson, to contain a number of fine commentators.

Also, if you have some Greek skills, are looking for something a bit more academically challenging, and can ignore the weak underlying theology of a few of the contributors, the New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series is something to look into. Especially well done are the commentaries on Paul's Epistle to the Philippians and the Pastoral Epistles by O'Brien and Knight respectively.

I still always reference Calvin, usually Poole, somewhat less frequently Henry. Much of the better exegesis in Henry can be found in Poole, and the rest is application that a minister is better off coming up with on his own in relation to his flock and their times, although on occasion his practical theology can be quite insightful.
 

christianyouth

Puritan Board Senior
I cannot speak from experience regarding McArthur's complete Bible commentaries, but from what I have gathered it is a good commentary, and you couldn't go wrong adding it to your library. Considering you have limited resources, I would suggest getting some one book commentaries, such as Spurgeon's Treasury of David. Various Puritan writers have produced a number of good commentaries, so you might want to check that out.

Also, Matthew Henry's commentary is VERY cheap, everyone should have a copy.

I recently ordered Boice's commentary on Genesis, so I will let you know if it is worth purchasing.

God Bless,
Andy
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I have personally heard John MacArthur say that he is a dispensationalist in the sense that he believes that there is a difference between Israel and the Church, but he no longer believes in all those dispensational divisions (7, or 9, or however many there allegedly are). His soteriology is definitely Reformed - no question about that.

Years ago, MacArthur was invited to speak to a Presbytery meeting of the OPC, and was asked, in the light of his increasingly Reformed soteriology, he didn't just come right out (so to speak) and be a full-fledged Reformed pastor. His answer had to to with what I wrote in the paragraph above.

As for his commentaries, D. A. Carson (who will be 60 this year, by the way) has said in his New Testament Commentary Survey that MacArthur's commentaries are hard to categorize: they are not technical, yet they are more than just simplistically devotional.

(Carson has also distinguished Calvin and Matthew Henry, as Bible expositors, this way: Calvin is the more faithful expositor of the biblical text, while Henry will give you lots of pithy and useful comments, from an applicatory point of view.)

Also - and I can attest this from personal experience - MacArthur is one of the few pastors who can preach for a solid hour and leave you begging for more. In a lot of his sermons, his first 20 minutes are a recap and summary of the previous weeks' sermons on the Scripture passage.

At 67, he's been pastor of the same church for 37 years and, DV, will be there for many more to come.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Blueridge reformer
Is John pre-mill and does he believe in a pre-trip rapture?

MacArthur is pre-mill; don't know about the pre-trib rapture position.

If he's now historic premil, that would be cool...
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Blueridge reformer
I guess this sums it up for John. How about Phil Johnson? Does he believe and teach this stuff. I visit his site and I can find no statement about dipensationalism or the pre-trib theory.

http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache...rthur+on+the+rapture&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=6

Don't know about Johnson. However, as he's been MacArthur's personal assistant for many years (helps him edit his books, etc.), I would suppose that he believes pretty much as MacArthur does.
 
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