Let me tell you a secret: I find Scripture hard to understand. Yes, yes, there are some portions which are plain as day – but to me, the Scriptures are difficult to understand and to apply.
I’ve read the Scriptures a fair bit. As a child and teenager I was required by my parents to read at least a chapter a day if I wanted to receive my $3 in allowance each week. I became extremely passionate as a teenage Christian and searched the Scriptures deeply – far beyond the requirements for my allowance and when I graduated from high school I pursued a Bachelors in Biblical Studies from Cairn University and since then I’ve taught the Scriptures on almost a weekly basis – sometimes multiple times each week – for the past eight years.
Yet I still struggle to understand the Scriptures – and I know others do as well. I’ve seen this especially amongst my teenagers – as I’ve challenged them to make reading the Scriptures a daily habit. There is a feeling of inability to understand and transfer the principles from the original writings to (post-)modern life.
This struggle was greatly relieved for me when I stumbled upon William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible commentaries. Barclay wrote in a clear and concise manner – diving into the historical, philosophical, grammatical, and contextual nature of the text – while maintaining lay readability and applicability. I have and continue to rely upon Barclay’s commentaries for insight and I find them to be a useful resource for me to the current day in spite of the wide variety of other resources I utilize including the amazing Logos Bible Software Scholars (Silver) Edition.
I realized that there was a need for similar contemporary commentaries written from a more evangelical / orthodox position than Barclay’s commentaries and yet my searches have returned empty time and again.
It has grown in my heart over a number of years to write a series of commentaries on the bible of a similar nature to Barclay’s commentaries – but spanning both the Old and New Testaments.
It is important to note that I have no intention of revolutionizing theology in doing so – rather I humbly submit a similar interest as Barclay – who saw himself not as an innovator but as a compiler and synthesizer of what wiser men had said. My desire is to write commentaries which express the beliefs of the orthodox faith while also presenting diverse alternative opinions for consideration.
Barclay’s commentaries are amazing, but they are not the end-all. At times they leave one disappointed. Barclay dives so deep at some points, yet elsewhere he simply skims over the meat offering a few devotional thoughts. This was perhaps necessary due to the nature of the work but exposes a weakness in devotional commentaries – they oftentimes fail to evaluate deeply enough areas of theological concern. This is where modern technology comes into the picture.
I’d like to write commentaries which serve as the first layer in a multilayer approach to Scriptural study. After one reads the initial commentary one will be able to “drill-down” to more extensive commentaries. Specifically, I’d like to compile the opinions of individuals and organizations throughout Christian history – summarizing who supported what position and providing quotes of major positions, thoughts, etc.
Eventually, I’d love to see this drill all the way down to original languages tools…But it all begins with a simple devotional commentary that every person in a congregation could use to help them understand the Scriptures.
After several years with little progress, I began working on a lay commentary using Dr. Bob Utley’s commentaries as a base, thanks to his generous permission to do so. But I was not satisfied with the results and so after another year or two I began again – but this time from the ground up (though relying on a number of resources including Utley’s excellent commentaries). I am currently making good progress through the Gospel of Mark and feel satisfied with the end product, as far as one can ever feel satisfied when commenting on the Word of God.