Logos Bible Software is offering Roland Murphy’s Word Biblical Commentary on Ecclesiastes (1992) for free during the month of June, and you can add John Durham’s Exodus commentary (1087) for $1.99 and G. R. Beasley Murray’s John (Second Edition, 1999) for $9.99. This means for a mere $12 you can add three major commentaries to you Logos library (well over $100 if purchased at Amazon, although much less for the savvy shopper who knows how to navigate a used bookstore).
Murphy was the George Washington Ivey Professor of Biblical Studies at Duke University for many years and was co-editor of both the Jerome Biblical Commentary and the (New) Jerome Biblical Commentary. His Ecclesiastes commentary is excellent and will be a fine addition to a Logos library.
The Word Biblical Commentary series are serious exegetical commentaries. Each unit begins with a short bibliography including monographs and peer-reviewed journals (including German and French sources). These are often a great place for students to start a research project, although they are only complete up to the publication of the volume. The authors focus on the original languages and deal with technical details of translation and technical variations via footnotes on a new translation of each section. Following the translation is a section entitled Form/Structure/Setting. In some of the the earlier commentaries this section included something like source or form criticism, but usually the literary structure of the Hebrew or Greek is in view. Following this section is the commentary proper, proceeding verse by verse with attention to the original text (which is included without transliteration). Each unit concludes with a brief section entitled explanation, although the content of this unit varies from volume to volume.
The Word Biblical Commentary series was originally published by Word Books (Waco, Texas) in 1983. The first few volumes are all still very valuable: Trent Butler on Joshua; Ralph Klein on 1 Samuel; Leslie Allen on Psalms; Gerald F. Hawthorne on Philippians; Richard J. Bauckham (2 Peter & Jude. The series was purchased by Thomas Nelson, but after HarperCollins acquired both Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, the series was moved to Zondervan. The series is nearly complete, with Steven J. Walton’s Acts commentary and Andrew D. Clarke on 1 Corinthians still listed as “forthcoming.”
As typically happens with an aging commentary series, Zondervan is revising or replacing some earlier volumes. Ralph Martin’s Second Corinthians commentary was revised by a few of his students by adding a few additional sections (conveniently marked with gray pages; see my review here); Trent Butler completely revised his Joshua commentary, adding a second volume with extremely detailed geographical notes on the second half of Joshua. You can read my review here, originally published in Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 5.1 (2016).
One serious advantage to the Logos format of this commentary is that all the Logos features are available. This includes searching English, Hebrew and Greek words, fuzzy searches, etc. By right-clicking a Hebrew word, the user can open their Hebrew lexicon of choice, right-clicking an English word opens up many options, including searching the user’s entire library, or limiting that search to a preferred Bible dictionary. A used can hover over abbreviations and a popup will identify the source, if it is a resource in the Logos library then it is clickable. References to other parts of the commentary are hyperlinks (so, “see notes” will go right to the section to which the author refers. All scripture reference are links as well, so the user can hover over the link and read the verse, to click to go to the preferred translation. Perhaps the most useful tool is how Logos cites sources. If the used copies a chuck of text and pastes it into a word processor, Logos will create a footnote citing the source in the user’s preferred format. I usually paste as plain text then edit the citation myself so it conforms to the format I prefer. What is important here is these digital books have real page numbers so they can be cited as if you have the real book in your desk. To me, this is a critically important feature. Nothing is more frustrating than students trying to cite a Kindle book in a research paper (in fact, just don’t try, find a real copy of the book and cite it properly).
As with most Logos resources, all resources are available on any Logos platform. I usually work with Logos on my desktop computer, but I can also read the books using my iPad and the Logos Bible App. All notes and highlights are synced with the user’s Faithlife account so I can read, make a few notes on a book, then pick up those notes on my desktop when I return to the office and incorporate them into whatever document I am working on at the time. If the user downloads the book to their device, footnotes appear at the bottom of the page (like a real book). Unfortunately, Logos removed the real page numbers from the iOS app, this is a major step backward (although I hear the page numbers will be restored in the future).
Logos usually does a giveaway with these free and almost free books, so this month they are giving away the Zondervan Theology Collection (7 volumes, $155.99 value).
Be sure to get these books before the end of June 2018 when the offer expires.