Matthew Poole’s A Commentary on the Holy Bible was the only 17th century commentary on the whole bible to remain in extensive use until it became unobtainable in recent years.
There are some good reasons why this was so. Matthew Poole’s uncommon gift of compactness and comprehensiveness enabled him to distill into his work material that was generally spread over many folio volumes. When the exhaustiveness of Puritan literature later became a cause of disfavour, Poole’s commentary was exempt from the criticism and even in the 19th century Richard Cecil could say ‘If we must have commentators, as we certainly must, Poole is incomparable, and, I had almost said, abundant of himself.’ His supreme concern is to clarify the meaning of the text. Consequently where the meaning is plain he spends little time, but on difficult passages he is fullest and frequently gives a survey of various views with reasons for his own conviction. In this way he brings out the importance and relevance of obscure passages-particularly in the Old Testament.
Poole is clear and easy to follow. Each chapter is preceded by an outline of the contents and principal teaching. But behind his commentary there lies the massive scholarship that went into his famous Latin Synopsis. His commentary draws largely on the riches of that work but presents it in a form which makes it serviceable to a much wider circle of readers. It has been said, ‘You meet with no ostentation of learning in Matthew Poole’s commentary 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.’
C.H. Spurgeon advised his students that Poole’s volumes ‘are necessities for your library’, and gave this testimony of his own experience of their worth. ‘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.’
Today the Commentary will be found helpful for general Christian reading, for regular reference in the Christian home, for Bible classes and for ministers and students.
- 3091 pages
- © 1979
- ISBN 9780851512112