100+ Free Commentaries on Genesis

Below are listed over 100 commentaries on Genesis that are free online, in various formats and platforms. All of them were published before 1920 but are preserved, mostly through large-scale repositories like Internet Archive, HathiTrust, Early English Books Online, and Google Books, in addition to Sefaria.

I've numbered them in loose order based on my recommendation of them; I've commented on those that I've consulted. This list was a bit of an experiment; in the future, I will try to order these by language and author.

This list is pretty extensive, but if you know Latin, German, or French, you can find even more over at PRDL. 

1. Needler, Benjamin (1620–1682). Expository notes, with practical observations; towards the opening of the five first chapters of the first book of Moses called Genesis. Delivered by way of exposition in several lords-dayes exercises. London: N. Webb & W. Grantham, 1655. [New edition forthcoming.]

Probably my favorite commentary on the early chapters of Genesis is that written by Benjamin Needler. There are many other Puritan commentators with a somewhat similar style and the same question-and-answer method of exposition, but Needler, in my opinion is the best at bringing out and elucidating specific tensions that come up in the text itself. Needler covers every question very thoroughly and sympathetically, and goes through several positions before settling on one, though not every issue is regarded as perfectly clear. He is one of the most insightful Puritan authors.

Needler was an Anglican priest until 1662, when he was “ejected” from the Anglican Church in the Great Ejection. Unfortunately, he published very little.

Many of the other commentaries listed here are in question-and-answer format, especially among Church Fathers (Ambrosiaster, Augustine, Ephrem the Syrian) and Puritans.

2. Genesis Rabbah. c. 400 AD.

Genesis Rabbah is a midrash, an extensive collection of Rabbinic wisdom on ways to interpret the Book of Genesis. While there are many medieval and modern Jewish writers who have written their own comments on the text of the Hebrew Bible (≈ Old Testament), Genesis Rabbah compiles comments from numerous rabbis. Many of their interpretations are distinctly Jewish, and may sound very foreign and speculative to Christian readers; others will shed light on the text in a way that is seldom found in Christian commentaries. But it is at the top of my list because of it is a great introduction to Jewish ways of reading the text. (Note: Though Genesis Rabbah is verse-by-verse, the chapters are not numbered from the biblical text.)

This and all the other Jewish texts listed below are made available in English translation by Sefaria, a wonderful non-profit digital library.

3. Dods, Marcus (1834–1909). The Book of Genesis. In The Expositor’s Bible series. New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, [1854].

Marcus Dods was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland and a prolific writer on theology and the Bible. His exposition of Genesis is not really a commentary but a series of discourses. These are fascinating in that they present a surprisingly modern theory of inspiration, which will sound eerily familiar to readers of modern scholar John Walton. Dods’ theory of inspiration is complex and demands the attention of Old Testament scholars.

4. Walker, George (c.1581–1651). The history of the creation, as it is written by Moses in the first and second chapters of Genesis, plainly opened and expounded in severall sermons preached in London. London: Printed by G. M. for John Bartlet, 1641.

George Walker was a member of the Westminster Assembly. In this book, there is some really strange stuff written in the sections on the Hexaemeron, as well as some very well thought out arguments on the Paradise narrative.

5. Kalisch, Marcus M. (1828–1885). A historical and critical commentary on the Old Testament, with a new translation. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts. 1858.

Kalisch was a Jewish scholar, born in present-day Poland, but later became influential in British Judaism. His commentaries on the Pentateuch are bar none. They are very widely regarded for their erudition and are still quite readable. They include a number of long, discursive essays which a reader may choose to leave aside. Though Jewish, he does take into account Christian views or New Testament views of the Hebrew text.

6. Henry, Matthew (1662–1714). An exposition of the Old and New Testament : with practical remarks and observations. [Afterward known as the Commentary on the Whole Bible; the abridged version is known as the Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible.] New York: Robert Carter & Bros., 1860 [1708–1710; numerous editions].

From 1708 to 1710, Matthew Henry wrote five volumes of Bible commentary, covering the Bible from Genesis to Acts. After his death in 1714, the final volume was completed by other ministers posthumously. I would be very remiss if Matthew Henry was not at or near the top of any list of Bible commentaries. He hardly requires any introduction. But I do have one important caveat: Matthew Henry’s commentary is circulated in several editions, and his “concise commentary” is in some cases a bowdlerization of his original work. If you have time, I recommend reading his full comments on a chapter or two to test him out. Though others may be more clever or erudite, you will be impressed by their thoughtfulness and devotional value.

7. Luther, Martin (1483–1546). [In two volumes:] Luther on Creation (vol. 1 on Gen. 1–3, 1904); Luther on Sin and the Flood (vol. 2 on Gen. 4–9, 1910). Tr. John Nicholas Lenker (1858-1929).

There are several other commentaries on Genesis from the first and second generation of the Reformation (Melanchthon; Brenz; Pellikan; Zwingli, etc.) but most of them are still only available in Latin, and many are very brief. Luther explores the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, at great length.

8. Hunnis, William. (d. 1597) A hyve full of hunnye: contayning the firste booke of Moses, called Genesis. Turned into English metre. London: Thomas Marsh, 1578.

Hunnis wrote several metrical translations of Scripture, and this work is very interesting as a paraphrase. As he expands on the text he reveals assumptions in the metanarrative that differ widely from our own assumptions today. It is also a fascinating example of English poetry a few decades prior to the King James Version.

9. Alford, Henry. The book of Genesis and part of the book of Exodus: a revised version, with marginal references, and an explanatory commentary. London: Strahan & Co., 1872.

(Dean) Alford is one of the more judicious commentators on Genesis, making the rare choice to abstain from judgement when the text is unclear.

10. Babington, Gervase (1549/1550–1610). Certaine plaine, briefe, and comfortable notes upon everie chapter of Genesis. London: Printed [by A. Jeffes and P. Short] for Thomas Charde, 1592.

Babington is an intriguing writer with a plain style, quite regardless of writing in the sixteenth century. Though an Anglican bishop, Babington exhibits that quaint and easy style that I might consider more typical of Puritans and low churchmen. I hope you will enjoy reading his “comfortable notes” on the Pentateuch as much as I do. Babington has similar notes on Exodus and Leviticus.

From here the ranking is pretty loose, it being pretty impossible to accurately rank so many books. But I've given my comments on those works that I've consulted or read.

11. MacDonald, Donald (1783–1867). Creation and the fall: a defence and exposition of the first three chapters of Genesis. Edinburgh: Thomas Constable & Co., 1856.

Donald MacDonald was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland. His exposition of the creation and fall is probably the most thorough exposition I have found, even longer than that of Luther. I have read several long old books on the creation and the fall, and most of them came from authors with “an axe to grind”, usually relating to original sin, or the sacrament, or literal creation, or allegorical creation. MacDonald broke that pattern for me. He approaches the text with great patience, and finds theological problems others miss in the text.

12. Ibn Ezra (1089–1164). Ibn Ezra on Genesis. [c. 1160]

One of the most famous Jewish commentators of the Middle Ages, frequently referenced in early Protestant works.

13. Parker, Joseph (1830–1902). The Book of Genesis. Vol. 1. of The People’s Bible. 1886. [New edition forthcoming.]

If you haven’t heard of Joseph Parker, you must be new to this site! The People’s Bible series is a 27-volume exposition of the entire Bible, originally preached to 3,000 hearers at City Temple (previously Poultry Chapel) in the City of London. The volume on Genesis contains a very long introduction covering foundational topics like revelation, inspiration, and God’s attributes. Parker studied biblical languages, but did not write most of the book introductions and annotations—he was at his best as a preacher. If you’re new to Parker, I can tell you that his best expositions are those on narratives and Old Testament Wisdom literature (ketuvim).

14. Candlish, Robert S. (1806–1873) The Book of Genesis expounded in a series of discourses. New edition. vol. 1. Edinburgh: Adam & Charles Black, 1868.

Candlish was a leader in the 1842 “Disruption” in the Church of Scotland, which led to the founding of the Free Church of Scotland. These are very nice discourses. He retells the Hebrew stories in accessible language, briefly covering their New Testament antitypes and cross-references. He never seems to get lost in the weeds. These are “discourses” (not commentary) so as expected they do not cover Genesis in a verse-by-verse fashion; nevertheless, Candlish is measured in his choice of words and does try to comment on nearly every verse in passing, if you read the full expositions. He is an admirable writer. He wrote quite a few other Bible commentaries.

15. Willet, Andrew (1562–1621). Hexapla in Genesin & Exodum: that is, a sixfold commentary upon the two first bookes of Moses, being Genesis and Exodus, etc. London: Printed by John Haviland, 1633.

Spurgeon wrote that Willet is “hampered by his method”; on the contrary, I quite enjoyed his way of turning a verse over and seeing its various aspects (rather the usual method for the seventeenth century). In any case, I would not read this one cover to cover, but it is worth consulting piecemeal. Willet has several other similar commentaries that are available online.

16. Ainsworth, Henry (1562–1621). Annotations on the Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses; the Psalms of David; and the Song of Solomon. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Blackie & Son, [1619] 1843.

Henry Ainsworth was a Brownist pastor in Amsterdam from the age of 26, part of the historic beginnings of Congregationalism. These annotations on the Pentateuch are definitely worth consulting.

17. Patrick, (Bishop) Simon (1626–1707). A commentary upon the first book of Moses, called Genesis. London: R. Chiswell, 1698.

Patrick is very readable and concise, especially for the time in which it was written. He aptly references from some early Reformers and some Church Fathers. The commentary of “Bishop Patrick” was highly regarded into the Victorian period.

18. Colman, Benjamin (1673–1747). A brief dissertation on the three first chapters of Genesis. Giving some of the evident signatures of the inspiration of God in those first pages of the holy oracles. : Being the substance of some sermons lately preached. Boston: Printed by S. Kneeland & T. Green, for J. Edwards & H. Foster, 1735.

Though his purpose was to prove the “inspiration” of Mosaic accounts of creation and the fall, this “dissertation” gives pretty well an exposition of the entire narrative. I really enjoyed reading it.

19. Kennicott, Benjamin (1718–1783). Two Dissertations: The First on the Tree of Life in Paradise with Some Observations on the Creation and Fall of Man: the Second on the Oblations of Cain and Abel. Oxford: Printed at the Theatre for the author, 1747.

Kennicott was a Anglican churchman, Hebrew scholar, and pioneer in the field of textual criticism, who sought to elucidate the problems he found in the Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament. In his work on Genesis 2–3, he has a number of specific theological arguments that he develops from the text. He argues that the tree of Life served as a sacrament for Adam and Eve, and also that men were not created immortal (similar to contemporary writings of John Walton). He created what has been called “the most lavish Hebrew Bible in existence”, which you can have in facsimile for only $11,000.

20. Dodd, William (1729–1777). A commentary on the books of the Old and New Testament. In which are inserted the notes and collections of John Locke, Esq., Daniel Waterland, D.D., the Right Honourable Edward Earl of Clarendon. And other learned persons. With practical improvements. Vol. 1. London: Printed for R. Davis, L. Davis, T. Carnan, & F. Newbery, 1770.

William Dodd was an Anglican priest who became chaplain in ordinary to the King in 1763. His 1770 commentary is decently readable, but he later fell into shame, prison, and death in connection with his extravagant lifestyle. After years of financial issues, he became desperate enough to commit forgery, and was executed by public hanging for his crime.

21. Horne, (Bishop) George (1730–1792). Discourses on several subjects and occasions, vol. 1. 4th ed. Oxford: Cooke, Robinson, Cadell, and Rivington, [preached in 1771 and 1772] 1793.

These are sermons, not commentary; however, Bishop Horne’s sermons were very well known and highly regarded, and for many decades, commentators on Genesis referenced them as authoritative—and not without reason, for they are very good sermons.

22. Fuller, Andrew. Expository discourses on the Book of Genesis, interspersed with practical reflections. New edition. London: T. Tegg & Son, 1836.

Spurgeon—being, like Fuller, a Particular Baptist—referred to Fuller’s discourses as the commentary on Genesis. I would not speak of them so highly as that, but they are definitely some of the best expository sermons available on Genesis.

23. Barrington, John Shute. “On the temptation, the fall, and the sentence which God pronounced on the serpent, the woman, and the man, in a large paraphrase on the third chapter of Genesis.” In The theological works of the first Viscount Barrington, [etc.] vol. 3. London: C. & J. Rivington, 1828, p. 1–17.

24. Barnes, Albert (1798–1870). Notes on the Whole Bible; Explanatory and Practical [14 volumes, 1830s].

Albert Barnes was a Presbyterian minister for more than forty years and is well known for his work on the atonement. If you have not read Barnes’ Notes, they are one of the most extensive Bible commentaries available. For some reason, none of the early editions seem to be available in digital format; but you can read Barnes’ Notes here.

25. Bush, George (1796–1859). Notes, critical and practical, on the book of Genesis, designed as a general help to biblical reading and instruction. vol. 1. 26th ed. New York: Ivison, Phinney & Co., 1838.

Bush’s Bible notes are very good reading. Charles Spurgeon wrote that they were plagiarized, but I have not found any evidence for that.

26. Cornelius a Lapide (1567–1637). Comentaria in scripturam sacram. Vol 1: Commentaria in Genesim. Paris: Apum Ludovicum Vives, Bibliupolam Editorem, [1616] 1891.

Cornelius a Lapide was a Flemish Jesuit who exegeted the entire Bible. Though the Vulgate had been adopted in 1592 as the authoritative scripture for the Roman Catholic Church, in his commentary on the Pentateuch (finished in 1616), Cornelius a Lapide makes frequent reference to the Hebrew text, sometimes criticizing the Vulgate, e.g., the use of ‘virago’ (‘female warrior’) for Heb. אשה (‘woman’) in Genesis 2:23. His Latin is not florid, but very accessible. He definitely stands out among Catholic commentators.

27. Payne Smith, Robert (1818–1895). An Old Testament commentary for English readers. Ed. Charles John Ellicott. Vol. 1. London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin, & Co., 1882.

Ellicott’s commentary series, which includes a variety of authors, was a mainstay for Joseph Parker in the production of his People’s Bible series. For scholars interested in the historical context of women in ministry, Payne Smith’s comments on Eve strongly reflect the ideological transition then taking place in British thought, as both women’s suffrage (from 1872) and women’s ordination were becoming topics of public discussion, not just reserved to radicals.

28. Cooper, Thomas (c.1517–1594). A briefe exposition of such chapters of the olde testament as vsually are redde in the church at common praier on the Sondayes set forth for the better helpe and instruction of the vnlearned. London: By H[enrie] D[enham] for Rafe Newbery, [1573].

29. Bede the Venerable. Ed. Michael Glerup. Series ed. Thomas C. Oden & Gerald L. Bray. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, [408] 2010, 23–94.

30. Alcuin of York (c.735–804). Quaestiones in Genesim. Patrologia Latina.

English translation is available here.

31. Ramban (Moshe ben Nachman) (1194–1270). Ramban on Genesis. c. 1266.

One of the most important Jewish commentators.

32. Clapham, Henoch (c.1560–1614). Bibliotheca theologica: or, a librarye theological containinge, 1. A generall analysis or resolution: 2. A breife elucidation off the most sacred chapters off Elohim his Bible: drawen for the vse of yonge Christians, specially off the poorer sorte, vnable to purchase variety off holy-men theyr wrytinges. Amsterdam: 1597.

33. Lightfoot, John (1602–1675). A few, and new observations, vpon the booke of Genesis. The most of them certaine, the rest probable, all harmelesse, strange, and rarely heard off before. London: T. Badger, 1642.

The title of this one just about says it all. Lightfoot was well acquainted with rabbinical wisdom and wrote quite a bit on the Old Testament. He was one of the Westminster Assembly. (This one is also in PDF here.)

34. White, John (1575–1648). A commentary upon the three first chapters of the first book of Moses called Genesis. London: Printed by John Streater, 1656.

35. Wright, Abraham (1611–1690). A practical commentary or exposition upon the Pentateuch viz. These five books of Moses Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Wherein the text of every chapter is practically expounded, according to the doctrine of the Catholick Church, in a way not usually trod by commentators; and wholly applyed to the life and salvation of Christians. London: Printed by G. Dawson, for T. Johnson, 1662.

36. Kidder, Richard (1633–1703). A commentary on the five books of Moses: with a dissertation concerning the author or writer of the said books; and a general argument to each of them, vol. 1. London: J. Heptinstall, 1694.

Richard Kidder was bishop of Bath and Wells. His commentary is brief but interesting.

37. Hewlett, John (1762–1844). (editor) The Holy Bible containing the Old and the New Testament and the Apocrypha, with critical, philological, and explanatory notes. vol. 1, part 1. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Co., 1812.

38. Close, Francis (1797–1882). The Book of Genesis, considered and illustrated in a series of historical discourses, preached in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Cheltenham. 6th ed. London: Thomas Arnold, [1826] 1841.

Close was an evangelical Anglican, active for many years in southwest England, and a prolific writer.

39. Schrank, Franz von Paula (1747–1835). Commentarius literalis in Genesin. Sulzbach: Seideliana, 1835.

Schrank was a Roman Catholic priest who was also a professor of botany and entomology. This commentary is only available in Latin.

40. Melanchthon, Philip (1497–1560). In obscuriora aliquot Geneseos Phil. Mel. Annotationes. 1523.

Like Luther’s commentary, Melanchthon’s commentary only covers the first few chapters of Genesis, which are so foundational in theology. The Latin here is difficult because of the abbreviations used then. Surprisingly, I could not find this work in English.

41. Bonnet, Louis. The exile from Eden; meditations on the third chapter of Genesis, with exegetical developments. Tr. W. Hare. London: James Nisbet & Co., [preface dated 1834] 1839.

I could not find any information on this French preacher.

42. Henry, Philip (1631–1696). An exposition, with practical observations, upon the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis. London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1839 [manuscript dated 1682].

This book is taken from a manuscript written by Matthew Henry himself; Philip Henry was his father, but the authorship is not entirely certain.

43. Blunt, Henry (1794–1843). A family exposition of the Pentateuch. Genesis. 2nd ed. London: J. Hatchard & Son, 1841.

Blunt wrote quite a few expository works.

44. Williams, Thomas (1755–1839). The cottage Bible and family expositor; containing the Old and New Testaments, with practical expositions and explanatory notes. Vol. 1. Hartford: Case, Tiffany, & Burnham, 1842.

That he edited this study Bible appears to be the only thing known about this author.

45. Mackintosh, Charles H. Notes on the Book of Genesis. 1st American ed. Philadelphia: Henry Longstreth, [1st ed. 1857] 1863.

Mackintosh was a member of the Plymouth Brethren who wrote devotional “notes” on the entire Pentateuch. Mackintosh is very enjoyable reading and he sometimes brings out shades of meaning in the narrative that are not detectable in detailed commentaries—for instance, on the relation between Terah and Abraham in Genesis 11–12. However, we do not encounter his “notes” as notes—which might imply short, detail-oriented comments—but essentially sermons, each handling roughly a chapter of Genesis. Spurgeon, typically half-wary of anyone not Baptist or Calvinist, recommended that Mackintosh be read “cautiously”; D. L. Moody, however, recommended Mackintosh enthusiastically. I recommend Mackintosh’s work for its homiletical and devotional value, which is high, though they are not properly “commentaries”.

46. Groves, Henry Charles (1822–1903). A commentary on the book of Genesis for the use of readers of the English version of the Bible. Cambridge: Macmillan & Co., 1861.

The author appears to be Anglican; his other works are listed here.

47. Williams, Isaac (1802–1865). The beginning of the book of Genesis, with notes and reflections. London: Rivingtons, 1861.

Isaac Williams was a prolific writer and a member of the Oxford Movement. This exposition of Genesis 1 to 4 weighs in at nearly 500 pages.

48. McCaul, Alexander (1799–1863). Some Notes on the first Chapter of Genesis, with reference to statements in “Essays and Reviews” [by C. W. Goodwin]. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, and Hunt, 1861.

McCaul was an Irish Hebraist.

49. Lange, Johann (or John) Peter (1804–1882). A commentary on the holy Scriptures: critical, doctrinal, and homiletical, with special reference to ministers and students. Tr. Philip Schaff. Vol. 1 of the Old Testament: containing a general introduction, and the book of Genesis. New York: Scribner, 1868.

Lange is very highly regarded, and his commentary is good, but it can be quite verbose. It would definitely be worth consulting in an in-depth study.

50. Ambrosiaster (formerly attributed to “Ambrose”, “Augustine” and “Pseudo-Augustine”). Pseudo-Augustini Quaestiones Veteris et Novi Testamenti CXXVII. 1908. [alternate link here.]

You can read an English translation here.

51. Gibbons/Gibbens, Nicholas. Questions and disputations concerning the Holy Scripture wherein are contained, briefe, faithfull and sound expositions of the most difficult and hardest places: approued by the testimony of the Scriptures themselues; fully correspondent to the analogie of faith, and the consent of the Church of God; conferred with the iudgement of the fathers of the Church, and interpreters of the Scripture, nevv and old. Wherein also the euerlasting truth of the word of God, is freed from the errors and slaunders of atheists, papists, philosophers, and all heretikes. The first part of the first tome. London: Felix Kyngston, 1601.

Gibbons may be unbeatable for his ability to pull out Greek and Latin quotations from the Church Fathers on nearly every topic. That alone might make this work pretty valuable, but none of the quotations are translated.

52. Ross, Alexander (c. 1590–1654). An exposition on the fourteene first chapters of Genesis, by way of question and answere Collected out of ancient and recent writers: both briefely and subtilly propounded and expounded. By Abraham [sic] Rosse of Aberden, preacher at St. Maries neere South-Hampton, and one of his Maiesties chaplaines. London: Printed by B[ernard] A[lsop] and T[homas] F[awcet] for Anth. Upphill, 1626.

53. Richardson, John (1580–1654). Choice observations and explanations upon the Old Testament containing in them many remarkable matters, either not taken notice of, or mistaken by most, which are additionals to the large annotations made by some of the Assembly of Divines : to which are added some further and larger observations of his upon the whole book of Genesis perused and attested by the Reverend Bishop of Armagh, and Mr. Gataker Pastor of Rederith. London: Printed by T.R. and E.M. for John Rothwell …, 1655.

54. Shuckford, Samuel (c. 1693–1754) The creation and fall of man: a supplemental discourse to the preface of the first volume of the Sacred and prophane history of the world connected. London: London : Printed for J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper, 1753.

Shuckford applies some sharp logic to certain aspects of the creation and fall.

55. Franks, James. Sacred literature, or Remarks upon the Book of Genesis, collected and arranged, to promote the knowledge, and evince the excellence, of the holy Scriptures. Halifax: Holden & Dowson, 1802.

56. Oakes, Abraham. A short essay on the creation, fall, and redemption of man: with some view to Dr. Middleton’s late book against the right reverend the lord bishop of London. London: J. Noon, 1750.

57. Morison, James. An introductory key to the first four books of Moses: being an attempt to analyze these books, by exhibiting their figurative nature; and particularl to shew that the great design of the things recorded therein was—the sufferings of Christ and the following glory. Perth: R. Morison, 1810.

58. Benson, Joseph (1749–1821). The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, (according to the present Authoerized English Version:) with notes, critical, explanatory, and practical; all the marginal readings of the most approved printed copies of the Scriptures, with such others as appear to be countenanced by the Hebrew and Greek originals: a copious collection of parallel texts; summaries of each book and chapter; and the date of every transation and event recorded in the sacred oracles,agreeable to the calculation of the most correct chronologers. [vol. 1.] 2nd ed. London: Thomas Cordeux, 1811.

Benson was an early Methodist.

59. Turner, Samuel H. (1790–1861). A companion to the Book of Genesis. New York: Stanford & Swords, 1846.

60. Bonar, Horatius (1808–1889). Earth’s morning: or, Thoughts on Genesis. New York: Robert Carter & Bros., [1868] 1875.

This work covers Genesis 1–6. Bonar shows his erudition here, but I did not enjoy this book as much as his other works.

61. de Sola, D. A., I. L. Lindenthal, & Morris J. Raphall. The Sacred Scriptures in Hebrew and English. A new translation, with notes critical and explanatory. vol. 1: Genesis. London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1844.

Textual notes—not very useful.

62. Jervis, John Jervis-White (1766–1830). Genesis Elucidated: A New Translation, from the Hebrew Compared with the Samaritan text and the Septuagint and Syriac versions, with notes. London: Samuel Bagster & Son, [1830] 1852.

This work is an awful ambitious undertaking, since the author was not known as a biblical scholar or linguist, but was a nobleman and “miscellaneous writer”.

63. Kitto, John (1804–1854). The pictorial Bible, being the Old and New Testaments according to the Authorised Version, illustrated with steel engravings and many hundred wood-cuts representing landscape scenes and subjects of natural history costume and antiquities, with original notes. A new ed.vol. 1. London: W. & R. Chambers, 1855.

Kitto became one of the first Protestant missionaries to the Arab world, joining Anthony Norris Groves (a founder of the Plymouth Brethren) on his expedition to Baghdad. Kitto’s biblical studies were very highly regarded throughout the Victorian era, in no small part because of his time spent in the “Orient”.

64. Jacobus, Melancthon (1855–1937). W. Notes, critical and explanatory, on the book of Genesis. Two volumes in one. New York: Robert Carter & Bros., [1867] 1873.

65. Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. A commentary, critical, experimental, and practical, on the Old and New Testaments. vol. 1: Genesis—Deuteronomy. Glasgow: William Collins, Sons, & Co., 1871.

Though it is still in print today, I can’t say I found much that was uniquely valuable to this commentary. I found it wordy and conventional.

66. Bullinger, E. W. (1837–1913). The companion Bible, being the Authorized Version of 1611 with the structures and notes, critical, explanatory and suggestive and with 198 appedixes. Sevierville, Tenn.: C. T. Haywood, [1910] 2005.

I am a fan of E. W. Bullinger’s exhaustive reference works on the Bible, and his Scripture companion is in a way a complement to those other works. It is precious little help as to issues of interpretation, the comments being brief and mainly related to figures of speech.

67. Keil, C. F. (1807–1888) and Franz Delitzsch (1813–1890). Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. Vol. 1: The Pentateuch. Tr. James Martin. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, [1860?] 1885.

This German commentary was regarded by many as the best commentary on the Old Testament. Delitzsch later wrote another commentary on Genesis (published in 1888), not to be confused with this one.

Keil’s professor, Ernst Hengstenberg, was also a prolific author on the Pentateuch.

68. Murphy, James G. A critical and exegetical commentary on the book of Genesis. Andover: W. F. Draper, 1866.

69. Chrysostom, John (c.347–407). Homilies on Genesis.

Chrysostom is one of the most important Church Fathers, and his homilies often stay very close to the biblical text. Though these homilies were given in Greek, a translation has been shared online.

70. Augustine of Hippo (354–430). [1] De Genesi ad Litteram. [2] De Genesi contra Manichaeos. [3] Questions on Genesis.

Augustine wrote more on Genesis than perhaps anybody on this list. The first work is in my opinion very discursive and does not function so much as a commentary—he develops long drawn-out theological arguments related to the origin of sin, etc. I found De Genesi contra Manichaeos more interesting.

71. Nicholas of Lyra (c.1270–1349). Biblia Sacra cum glossis, etc. vol. 1. 1545.

Lyra was one of the most important medieval commentators and even in the sixteenth century, he was read among Catholics and reformers alike. In 1603, his commentary was included in the Venice edition of the Glossa Ordinaria, available here.

72. Trapp, John. A clavis to the Bible. Or A new comment upon the Pentateuch: or five books of Moses.: Wherein are 1. Difficult texts explained. 2. Controversies discussed. … 7. And the whole so intermixed with pertinent histories, as will yeeld both pleasure and profit to the judicious, pious reader. London: Printed for Timothy Garthwait, at the George in Little-Brittain, 1650 [i.e. 1649].

Trapp has an interesting turn of phrase and his commentary has been consulted for centuries.

73. Calvin, John (1509–1564). Commentaries on the first book of Moses called Genesis. [1563] 1847.

Calvin’s commentaries are extremely thorough. He was a very discriminating writer and often very critical of others’ interpretations. His persistent involvement in exerting his influence in executing and banishing Bible-believing Christians for their doctrines is even more unfortunate than the woeful tale of William Dodd (told above), though the latter is entirely forgotten and the former .

74. Chizkuni (Rabbi Hezekiah ben Manoah). Commentary on the Torah. c. 1240.

Chizkuni has some clever wording but is not always very helpful in elucidating the text. He sometimes names multiple readings, without choosing one.

75. Sforno (c.1470–1550). Sforno on Genesis. c.1525.

76. Pereira (Pererius), Benedict(us) (1536–1610). Commentatiorum et Disputationum en Genesim, Tomi Quatuor. 4vol. 1601.

A Jesuit scholar, Pereira was very prolific on the Book of Genesis, writing four large volumes.

77. Salkeld, John (1576–1660). A treatise of Paradise. And the principall contents thereof especially of the greatnesse, situation, beautie, and other properties of that place: of the trees of life, good and euill; of the serpent, cherubin, fiery sword, mans creation, immortalitie, propagation, stature, age, knowledge, temptation, fall, and exclusion out of Paradise; and consequently of his and our originall sin: with many other difficulties touching these points. Collected out of the holy Scriptures, ancient fathers, and other both ancient and moderne writers. London: Printed by Edward Griffin for Nathaniel Butter, 1617.

78. Jackson, Arthur (1593?–1666). A help for the understanding of the Holy Scripture intended chiefly for the assistance and information of those that use constantly every day to reade some part of the Bible, and would gladly alwayes understand what they read if they had some man to help them : the first part : containing certain short notes of exposition upon the five books of Moses, to wit Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomie : wherein all such passages in the text are explained as were thought likely to be questioned by any reader of ordinary capacity. Cambridge: Roger Daniel, 1643.

79. Hughes, George. An analytical exposition of the whole first book of Moses, called Genesis, and of XXIII chap. of his second book, called Exodus wherein the various readings are observed, the original text explained, doubts resolved, Scriptures parallelled, the Scripture chronology from the Creation of the world to the giving of the law at Mount Sinai cleared, and the whole illustrated by doctrines collected from the text : delivered in a mornings exercise on the Lord’s day. [S.l.: s.n.], 1672.

80. Poole, Matthew. Annotations upon the Holy Bible, wherein the sacred text is inserted, and various readings annex’d, together with the parallel Scriptures. London: John Richardson, [1683].

81. Le Clerc, Jean. [= Ioannes Clericus.] Pentateuchus, sive Moses Prophetæ libri quinque. Ex translatione Joannis Clerici, cum ejusdem paraphrase perpetua, commentario philologico, variisque dissertationibus criticis, et tabulis chronologicis ac geographicis. [The Pentateuch, or, the five books of the prophet Moses. From the translation of Jean Le Clerc, with also a continuous paraphrase, linguistic commentary, and various critical dissertations and tables, chronological and geographical.] Amstelodami [Amsterdam]: Henricum Wtstenium, 1696.

82. Gill, John. An exposition of the Old Testament, etc. Vol. 1. London: Mathews & Leigh, [1763] 1810.

Gill will appeal especially to conservative Calvinists.

83. Bate, Julius. An essay towards explaining the third chapter of Genesis, and the spiritual sense of the Law. In which the third proposition of the Divine Legation, and what the author hath brought to support it, are consider’d. London: G. Strahan, 1741.

84. Scott, Thomas. The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, according to the Authorized Version; with explanatory notes, practical observations, and copious marginal references. Stereotype ed. Vol. 1. Boston: Armstrong, [1824].

Scott’s commentary is very good.

85. Holden, George. A dissertation on the fall of man; in which the literal sense of the Mosaic account of that event is asserted and vindicated. London: C. & J. Rivington, 1823.

86. Sibthorp, R. Waldo. The Book of Genesis; with brief explanatory and practical observations, and copious marginal references. R. B. Seeley & W. Burnside, 1835.

The author’s biography is too odd not to mention here: He was raised Anglican, ran away from home and tried to become Catholic, was brought home, became an Anglican priest, then converted to become Catholic, then converted back to become Anglican again. But the biographer comments that he was essentially an evangelical in his manner, methods, and teaching!

87. Maurer, Franc. Jos. Valent. Dominic. Commentarius grammaticus criticus in Vetus Testamentum in usum maxime gymnasiorum et academiarum. [Critical grammatical commentary on the Old Testament, embellished particularly for the use of schools and universities.] Vol. 1. Lipsiae [Leipzig]: Fridericus Volckmar, 1835.

88. Sutcliffe, Joseph. A commentary on the Old and New Testament, in which the sacred text is illustrated with copious notes, theological, historical, and critical; with improvements and reflections at the end of each chapters. Digitized at studylight.org.

Sutcliffe was an early Methodist. I am not aware of a primary source of this commentary.

89. Kurtz, J. H. History of the Old Covenant. Tr. Alfred Edersheim. Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, [1853] 1859.

90. Cumming, John. Sabbath morning readings on the Old Testament: Book of Genesis. Boston: John P. Jewett & Co., 1854.

91. Kenrick, Francis Patrick. The Pentateuch. Translated from the Vulgate, and diligently compared with the original text, being a revised edition of the Douay version. With notes, critical and explanatory. Baltimore: Kelly, Hedian, & Piet, 1860.

92. Bunyan, John (1628–1688). “An Exposition of the Ten First Chapters of Genesis.” In The Miscellaneous Works of John Bunyan, vol. 12. Ed. W. R. Owens. Oxford: Clarendon Press, [1692] 1994.

John Bunyan’s works are extremely numerous, but they all seem to be worth reading. This exposition of Genesis 1–10 was no exception. However, this work is listed near the bottom because it requires an account to “borrow” the work. (If someone ever digitizes the older edition, it could become freely available.)

93. von Gerlach, Otto. Commentary on the Pentateuch. Tr. Henry Downing. Philadelphia: Smith, English & Co., 1860.

94. Browne, E. Harold. Genesis; or, The First Book of Moses. With a commentary. In The Speaker’s Commentary, no vol. number. New York: Scribner, Armstrong & Co., 1873.

The Speaker’s Commentary was a highly esteemed commentary set for several decades.

95. Goodspeed, Calvin & D. M. Welton. The Book of Genesis. 1909.

96. “Fidus.” [Anonymous.] 1833. “Commentary on Genesis III.” The Morning Watch; or Quarterly Journal on Prophecy, and Theological Review. vol. 6. London: James Fraser, 1833, 292-325.

97. Comestor, Petrus (c.1100–c.1179). Historia Scholastica. 1543.

98. Oecolampadius, Johannes (1482–1531). In genesim Enarratio [An Exposition of Genesis]. 1536.

Oecolampadius is one of the most important early Protestant reformers. His work is somewhat obscured by the many spellings of his name, and this commentary is only available in Latin. There are a few brief quotations in this article by Mickey Mattox, an important scholar of the early Reformation.

99. Philo of Alexandria (c.20 B.C.–c. 50 A.D.). Quaestiones in Genesim et in Exodum: fragmenta Graeca.

In English here, though I cannot vouch for the translation!

100. Josephus.

In English here.

100. Victorinus of Pettau (died c.303). “On the Creation of the World.” Schaff’s ANF.

101. Isidor of Seville (c.560–636). Enarrationes. 1530.

Michael M. Gorman, who has spent decades on ancient and medieval commentaries on Genesis, has created a wonderful, free edition of Isidor’s commentary on Genesis, color-coded according to the source that Isidor was quoting or paraphrasing.

102. Ephraim the Syrian (c.306–373). In Genesim et in Exodum commentarii.

Ephraim the Syrian is a major figure in Eastern Christianity. It is very difficult to find translations of Eastern Church Fathers who wrote in Syriac, but you can read an
“unofficial” translation of Ephraim on Genesis 1 to 3 here.

103. Didymus the Blind (c.313–398). Commentary on Genesis. Tr. Robert C. Hill. The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation. Vol. 132. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2016.

Several works of Didymus the Blind were only recently discovered in a trove of papyri uncovered in Egypt in 1941. His work is a fascinating complement to that of Origen, who was his teacher. He usually does not approach the text literally.

104. Ambrose of Milan (c.340–397) De Paradiso.

105. Wigbold (8th c.). Quaestiones in Octateuchum. [See PL 96.1101ff]

This work, commissioned by Charlemagne, is apparently not available online, but it is described in this article by Michael M. Gorman.

1 thought on “100+ Free Commentaries on Genesis

  1. Pioneer Library Post author

    I am working on an updated version of this (in a separate post) that will include even more commentaries. Stay tuned!



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