1. Uniqueness of the ZECNT

It is the uniqueness of the ZECNT that inspires us to make it available in Spanish.

That uniqueness boils down to our conviction that the ZECNT is strikingly helpful for sermon writing. Why is this so? Because the ZECNT is first-rate, conservative, biblical scholarship that is judiciously packaged to assist conscientious preachers who are short on time.

But in order to explain why this is so, allow me to go into a little more detail.

The ZECNT was designed thinking of preachers

Vast quantities of scholarship have been invested over the years in producing commentaries. Some are devotional in focus, others are more technical in nature, and certain others fall somewhere in between. That said, the best recent commentaries are generally of the technical, scholarly sort. That means usually that the level of detail is great and the interaction with the latest critical scholarship thorough. Generally, this has a practical consequence of being tough sledding!

Being technical in nature, the best commentaries generally represent cutting-edge scholarship that speaks to the concerns of the scholarly community. The well-trained expositor, with a generous amount of weekly time available for sermon preparation, can often make valuable use of such commentaries. Of course, there’s the rub. Not all Bible expositors have either the training or the time to invest in this kind of preparation. And if this is true to some extent in the English-speaking world, it is even more the case in the Spanish-speaking world.

The editors of the ZECNT understood this challenge, and therefore sought to design a series that would address it. They began by asking pastors and teachers what they most wanted to see in a commentary series based on the Greek text of the New Testament. The features of the ZECNT are the specific response to those felt needs.

The ZECNT feature-set provides what preachers most need

If you have the time and interest, you can get a full presentation of the uniqueness of the focus and features of the ZECNT from several downloadable PDFs that Zondervan has made available (see below). If you don’t have time for the PDFs right now, we can at least highlight a few items that are particularly significant from three different contributors to the series.

Clint Arnold: “Series Introduction.”

In particular, Arnold highlights who the commentary might best serve, and then briefly describes each of the content blocks that appear for every preaching portion. Here we highlight a few insights he gives on the process of developing the series.

The idea for this series was refined over time by an editorial board who listened to pastors and teachers express what they wanted to see in a commentary series based on the Greek text.

We also enlisted a board of consulting editors who are active pastors, ministry leaders, and seminary professors to help in the process of designing a commentary series that will be useful to the church.

ZECNT Series Introduction (PDF)

Craig Blomberg: “Author Preface”

Blomberg’s portion of the preface for the commentary on the Epistle of James is interesting for another reason. Specifically, he describes how the aims and format of the ZECNT overcame his resistance to ever writing another commentary!

Surely, especially for the New Testament and especially in the United States, there is such a glut of commentaries at every level and from every angle imaginable that it could not be good stewardship of time to work on yet one more series just to compete with all of the resources already available.

Then I read the bulk of the prospectus. Not only was the format distinctive, but it truly captures the variety of information and collection of insights that a busy preacher or teacher needs for a “one-stop shopping” approach to adequate sermon preparation or lesson planning. All that remains is for speakers to tailor their messages to their specific audiences and organize whatever audio-visual aids or interactive activities they want to add.

Grant Osborne: Matthew Sample

Finally, to round out this overview of the uniqueness of the series, we offer a sample chapter from Grant Osborne’s Gospel of Matthew volume. With this, you can see how the distinctive format of the series is actually applied in one of the commentaries. Notice the seven ZECNT elements of the presentation. These are what the preacher gets for every single preaching portion of the entire New Testament.

  1. Literary Context
  2. Main Idea
  3. Translation and Graphical Layout
  4. Structure
  5. Exegetical Outline
  6. Explanation of the Text
  7. Theology in Application

ZECNT Matthew Passage Sample (PDF)

Additionally, each commentary begins with a chapter devoted to a preacher-focused Introduction to the biblical book covered by the commentary, and finishes with a chapter on the Theology of the book.

Two Disclaimers

First, as is true with any project of this scope in which multiple scholars participate, no one will be able to find themselves endorsing every opinion expressed in every commentary. That noted, all of the scholars who author volumes for the series are conservative, Evangelical scholars who have been carefully selected for both their expertise and their commitment to the authoritative Scriptures.

Second, we are not translating this series because we think that for each book of the New Testament each volume is the single “best”* commentary available. While many volumes in this series may, in fact, be regarded among the best, and all the volumes will certainly compare favorably to any out there in terms of scholarship, the definitive reason we think the ZECNT is worth translating is the format. It is designed to help the preacher preach on target (without spoon-feeding him his sermon!). To that end, the ZECNT as a series really has no peer.

(* For those interested, an exceedingly well-configured presentation of the leading English-language commentaries can be found on bestcommentaries.com.)