My list of “must have” Bible resources has certainly changed over the last couple of years. This is certainly not an exhaustive list but it is a list of books that I believe you can’t go wrong in purchasing.
1) The Anchor Bible Dictionary (6 Volume Set)
(David Noel Freedman) – This is one impressive piece of work. Even though it is well over a decade old, the level of scholarship and depth of information on any given subject, name, location, theme, etc in the Bible is unmatched. It is a bit pricey but it is worthy every penny. Over 1,000 top notch contributors, 7 volumes, over 6,000 entries.
2) Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible
(David Noel Freedman) – If you can’t quite afford Anchor there are two places you can turn that will get you at least to the gate of the ballpark. While not quite full admission and the front row seating Anchor provides Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible is probably the next best thing.
3) The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford Companions)
(Bruce Metzger) – Probably just as good as #2
4) IVP’s Dictionaries – these are incredible if you are studying the subject matter of any of the following dictionaries:
4a – Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
4b – Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
4c – Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
4d – Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
4e – Dictionary of New Testament Background (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
4f – Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
(Joel Green & Scot McKnight)
4g – Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
4i – Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Developments (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
4j – The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament
(John Walton) – Invaluable and inexpensive.
4k – The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament
– Invaluable and inexpensive. These go chapter by chapter through the Bible and give you extensive historical backgrounds that illuminate the text.
5) Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Reference Library)
2nd edition (Elwell) – this covers a wide range of theological terms and offers up concise and helpful definitions for pretty much everything you need to know regarding theological studies.
6) Exhaustive Concordance – This is pretty much out of date due to free websites like Biblegateway but I think it is still good to have one on hand for the Bible version you use the most.
- Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance
- The Strongest NASB Exhaustive Concordance (Strongest Strong’s)
- The Nrsv Concordance Unabridged: Including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books
- The Crossway Comprehensive Concordance of the Holy Bible, English Standard Version
7) Parallel-Interlinear Greek New Testament in the version of your choice – this normally gives you a pretty literal word-for-word translation over the top of the Greek text of the New Testament with an English version in the margins.
- Interlinear NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, The
- Nasb-Niv: Parallel New Testament in Greek and English With Interlinear Translation
- The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament
(John Walton) & Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament
9) An Introduction to the Old Testament: Second Edition
(Longman and Dillard) & An Introduction to the New Testament
(D.A. Carson, Douglas Moo, & Leon Morris)
10) Backgrounds of Early Christianity
(Everett Ferguson) – This is an excellent and unmatched book on historical backgrounds and all sorts of items of interest that shed light on new testament studies. It contains everything from religious backgrounds of the Greeks and Romans to cultural practices of the first century.