I am always on the lookout for good commentaries, but it's not always easy to know where to find them. With limited resources, you hate to burn $30, $50, even $75 dollars on a commentary that ends up being of little use to you. What I usually end up doing is buying commentaries by authors I already know and trust (I'll buy any commentary I find by Walter Brueggemann, Will Willimon, Fred Craddock, David Garland, Scott McKnight. . . ). This is a fine strategy in some regards, but it leaves holes in my library in both scope and the number of perspectives represented.
My ideal library would be the size of a university library. In my actual library I'll settle for having three exceptional commentaries for each book of the Bible. First, I like having one really thorough, technical commentary that can take me through all the ins and outs of the biblical language and the major historical critical issues. I prefer this to be a more recent publication as that hopefully ensures coverage of the most recent scholarship. Dr. David Garland's volume on 1 Corinthians in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament is an example of what I'm talking about. Then I like to have two or three less technical but still thorough commentaries. I want these to be from different theological perspectives (moderate/liberal/conservative, Anabaptist/Mainstream Protestant/Catholic, etc.). The idea is to hear different voices as they read the same text. I find my sermon preparation deeply enriched by the variety of voices within the church including and sometimes especially the voices with whom I disagree most often. These diverse voices help me think of familiar texts in new ways.
The nerd in me would love to churn through 7-8 commentaries a week in sermon prep, but the full time pastor in me has learned that 3-4 good commentaries are enough.
What about you? What do you look for in a commentary? Who are some of your favorite authors? What are some of your favorite volumes?