I am knee-deep in book reviews right now and a couple of them are biblical commentaries. Now, given that commentaries are a standard and popular genre of biblical research and didactic literature, I think it is helpful to cover a number of things in a book review so that the reader can make a decision about consulting/purchasing that resource. I have some basic things I think people would like to know about, but I very much welcome comments on what other things I have missed which readers would like to know (and the most salient and useful comments will be added to the main post).
1. Audience/Depth – who is the commentary written for and at what level of depth? Pastors? Scholars? Is Greek in the main text or footnotes? Is it transliterated?
2. Originality – Does the author take a fresh or original approach to the book(s) or is he or she distilling and expanding on other commentaries (BTW – I don’t think the latter is bad)?
3. Methodological tendencies/leanings – What is the scholar’s approach to the text? What does he or she tend to focus on? Rhetoric? Social-scientific matters? Historical considerations? Canonical criticism? Jewish backgrounds/Old in New? (many are a combination, but they all show favored issues)
4. Theological tendencies – Does someone tend to beat the Calvin hammer or the Wesley hammer? Does someone seem to drive a “universalist” agenda? Or a particular view of atonement? Complementarianism?
5. Handling of Key Problem Texts – How does the scholar approach/resolve some key difficult passages?
6. Blindingly obvious errors in the commentary
7. Format – Is the commentary readable; does it flow well? Are there too many rabbit-trails?
8. Prolegomena – Often times some of the most interesting and creative stuff takes place in the introduction to the commentary where the background, approach, setting, orientation, theology, etc… all are discussed. Is the intro especially useful?
9. Appended items –If there are useful appended items (charts, excurses, epilogue) what are they?
Are there major things I am missing?