Free Access to the International Critical Commentary

The International Critical Commentary has more than 100 years under its belt. Many of the original volumes are openly available online.1

The International Critical Commentary continues to be kept alive with the publication of new editions to take account of more recent scholarship.2

Of course, these more recent volumes are now the touchstones for the series. But the original volumes remain a treasure trove of critical exegetical insight from previous generations that shouldn’t be ignored.


In its first iteration, the International Critical Commentary took its point of departure from several excellent German commentaries of the period—by figures like De Wette, Meyer, Keil, and Delitzsch.3

The International Critical Commentary wanted to do for English-speaking audiences what these prior series had done for German-speaking ones. In particular, the commentary’s goal was to “be abreast of modern biblical scholarship, and in a measure lead its van” (i.e., vanguard).

Structure and Scope

The commentary’s of each biblical book begins with an introduction that discusses the state of scholarship on that book. When helpful, this discussion includes treatment of the book’s history of interpretation.

The commentary aimed to serve “students and clergyman” of varying levels of expertise. So it routinely includes technical details but separates them from more general material. But instead of practical or homiletical notes, the series’s volumes chiefly focus on matters of history, archaeology, and biblical theology.

Open Access

Most or all of the original International Critical Commentary volumes are now in the public domain, scanned, and openly available online.

If you’d like to start accessing the scholarship they contain, just enter your name and email below. I’ll then email you a one-page summary with the exact links to where you can get each volume I’ve come across so you don’t have to spend time hunting for them.

Happy reading and researching!

  1. For bringing to my attention the availability of several volumes from this series, I’m grateful to Randall Bailey. 

  2. Featured image provided by Internet Archive

  3. For the background material on the International Critical Commentary, I am drawing particularly on the Editors’ Preface that appeared during the series’ supervision by C. A. Briggs, S. R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer. 

A further update on Migne’s “Patrologia Latina”

SBL Press has clarified its guidance about citing J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia Latina based on the discovery that various year’s printings of certain volumes within Patrologia Latina have differences. Among these differences are variations in the column arrangements for the texts contained in Patrologia Latina. The Press’s initial recommendation was that

authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1865 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1868 or later, we encourage authors to find an earlier printing of PL to cite.

The Press has subsequently “discovered that there are also variations between Migne’s original editions and his own later reprintings prior to transferring the rights to Garnier.” Consequently, the Press’s new recommendation is that

authors always check a PL volume title page to ensure that the printing is dated 1855 or earlier. If the publication or printing date is 1857 or later, we encourage authors to find the original printing of PL to cite. (underlining added)

As a further curiosity in this complex discussion, I noticed earlier today that James Dunn’s Word Biblical Commentary volume on Romans refers to the same testimony by Ambrosiaster as I went in search of the week before last (xlviii). Elsewhere, Dunn’s introduction copiously indexes its discussion to relevant primary literature. But, on Ambrosiaster’s comment, one is simply told

(text in SH [Sanday and Headlam], xxv–xxvi, and Cranfield, 20)

Sanday and Headlam refer to Ballerini’s edition of Ambrosiaster rather than to Migne’s, as does Cranfield. But, one wonders if the indirect citation of Ambrosiaster through these other authors derives, at least in part, from dynamics like those here that make the references of previous scholars rather more obscure.

For further discussion of the Patrologia Latina question, please see the SBL Handbook of Style blog and the initial question and update posts here.

S. R. Driver on Google Books

Reverend Samuel Rolles Driver (1846–1914; Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)

Google Books has full-text PDFs freely available for the following works by S. R. Driver:

BibTeX-formatted bibliography information for these texts is available here.

Sanday and Headlam, “Romans”

Google Books has available the full text of Sanday and Headlam’s commentary on Romans in the International Critical Commentary (5th ed.; 1899). The basic bibliographic entry is available here (BibTeX).

If you’re interested in more volumes from the International Critical Commentary, see too “Free Access to the International Critical Commentary.”