Matthew Poole Synopsis -- Volume 5 Now Available

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Puritanboard Librarian
I am pleased to announce that volume 5 of the English translation of Matthew Poole's Synopsis Criticorum (this edition includes his English Annotations as well) is now available for purchase in hardcopy or electronic download at the Matthew Poole Project. This volume covers the second half of Exodus (chapters 19 through 40).


Puritan Board Junior
Andrew, what is the difference between his synopsis and his commentaries, which are normally published in three volumes?


Puritanboard Librarian
Andrew, what is the difference between his synopsis and his commentaries, which are normally published in three volumes?

Taylor -- The difference in short is that the Synopsis Criticorum is a collection of the best and most useful comments on the whole Bible by Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish and other commentators on Scripture, selected by Poole as the fruit of ten years of scholarly research. The work was done in Latin and this is the first time it has been translated into English. It also served as the basis of his English Annotations (which is the 3 volume commentary to which you refer), which includes his comments on the Bible through Isaiah 58. The rest was completed by his friends after his death and contains frequent references to the Synopsis encouraging readers to refer to it for greater exegesis. It is helpful, I think, to consider Surgeon's remarks on the two works:

If you are well enough versed in Latin, you will find in POOLE'S SYNOPSIS,[4] a marvellous collection of all the wisdom and folly of the critics. It is a large cyclopaedia worthy of the days when theologians could be cyclopean, and had not shrunk from folios to octavos. Query—a query for which I will not demand an answer—has one of you ever beaten the dust from the venerable copy of Poole which loads our library shelves? Yet as Poole spent no less than ten years in compiling it, it should be worthy of your frequent notice—ten years, let me add, spent in Amsterdam in exile for the truth's sake from his native land.

His work was based upon an earlier compilation entitled Critici Sacri, containing the concentrated light of a constellation of learned men who have never been excelled in any age or country.

MATTHEW POOLE also wrote ANNOTATIONS[5] upon the Word of God, in English, which are mentioned by Matthew Henry as having passed through many impressions in his day, and he not only highly praises them, but declares that he has in his own work all along been brief upon that which Mr. Poole has more largely discussed, and has industriously declined what is to be found there. The three volumes, tolerably cheap, and easily to be got at, are necessaries for your libraries. On the whole, if I must have only one commentary, and had read Matthew Henry as I have, I do not know but what I should choose Poole. He is a very prudent and judicious commentator; and one of the few who could honestly say, "We have not willingly balked any obvious difficulty, and have designed a just satisfaction to all our readers; and if any knot remains yet untied, we have told our readers what hath been most probably said for their satisfaction in the untying of it." Poole is not so pithy and witty by far as Matthew Henry, but he is perhaps more accurate, less a commentator, and more an expositor. You meet with no ostentation of learning in Matthew Poole, and that for the simple reason that he was so profoundly learned as to be able to give results without a display of his intellectual crockery. A pedant who is for ever quoting Ambrose and Jerome, Piscator and Œcolampadius, in order to show what a copious reader he has been, is usually a dealer in small wares, and quotes only what others have quoted before him, but he who can give you the result and outcome of very extensive reading without sounding a trumpet before him is the really learned man. Mind you do not confound the Annotations with the Synopsis; the English work is not a translation of the Latin one, but an entirely distinct performance. Strange to say, like the other great Matthew he did not live to complete his work beyond Isaiah 58; other hands united to finish the design.

More information can also be found in this past thread:


The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Well now, there ya go.... Another 84 bucks to invest. I need both volumes for Exodus. I have a book lust problem.


Puritanboard Doctor
:ditto::amen: I know exactly what you mean.
It is not really that I want more books, it is much more than that, I need them I crave them. :lol: :book2: :book2: :book2:


Puritanboard Librarian
Charles Buck, A Theological Dictionary Containing Definitions of All Religious Terms (1815), p. 87:

2. Pooli Synopsis Criticorum, 5 folio volumes. This is a valuable work, and ought to be in the possession of every student; it is much esteemed abroad, three editions of it having been published on the continent.


Puritanboard Librarian
-----Added 12/26/2008 at 12:12:57 EST-----

Why the jump from Exodus straight to Revelation?

It's because of a pastoral interest in studying that book in our own congregation.

-----Added 12/27/2008 at 10:13:18 EST-----

Robert Davies, Walks Through the City of York (1880), p. 38:

His [Matthew Poole's] great work, the "Synopsis Criticorum," in five volumes, folio, of which the first two were published in the year 1669, cost him ten years of indefatigable labour, and is described as "one of the greatest performances that ever came from the hand of one man."

-----Added 12/28/2008 at 09:12:49 EST-----

Thomas Frognall Dibdin, The Library Companion; or, The Young Man's Guide, and the Old Man's Comfort, in the Choice of a Library (1825 ed.), p. 52:

...I beseech the theological collector not to let a fine copy of good old Matthew Poole's "Synopsis Criticorum,"...slip through his fingers without becoming master of it....It may be worth while to consult Granger (Hist of Eng. vol. iii. p. 311, edit. 1804) for a brief but good account of the merits of Poole's Synopsis; and from which, no person, in want of the work, can rise without running to some of our principal booksellers for a copy.

-----Added 12/28/2008 at 09:21:41 EST-----

Richard Baxter recommends, in A Christian Directory, that Matthew Poole's Synopsis be included in the "poorest or smallest library that is tolerable" for a minister.

-----Added 12/30/2008 at 11:58:29 EST-----

Cotton Mather: Magnalia (1852 ed.), p.33:

For when the excellent Mr. Pool had finished his laborious and immortal task, it was noted by some considerable persons, 'That, wanting assistance to collect for him many miscellaneous criticisms, occasionally scattered in other authors, he left many better things behind him than he found.'
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