With Advent we have the beginning of a new liturgical year, and the gospel for continuous reading is Matthew. Now is a good time to think about the resources we will need for preaching, reading and studying for the year ahead, and these are some of the things I have found helpful.
John Proctor’s Grove booklet Matthew’s Jesus is worth getting if you don’t already have it. John works through the text giving a helpful overview, then addresses particular issues of interest, reflects on how to preach on Matthew, and offers further resources. He also writes in a very engaging and suggestive style which offers ideas for thinking and speaking. Very helpful, and delivered post-free in the UK. Additional online resources for the booklet list the lectionary Sunday readings, and offer a list of older commentary resources.
When preaching or reading, it is always worth reaching for Tom Wright’s Matthew for Everyone (two parts). For my money, on some of the tricky eschatological passages I don’t think Wright is quite as clear as he is elsewhere—but the wealth of illustrations and insights always make these volumes worthwhile.
For commentaries proper, I confess to being a huge fan of the late R T France. His Tyndale commentary, although published some years ago, it wonderfully compact and packs many insights. And the large and more recent NIC commentary is excellent and worth reading alongside the shorter one. France pays close attention to the text, and unpicks challenging issues with real insight whilst still being readable. On more controversial issues, I think France’s position is the most persuasive; he was influenced by Caird and in turn influenced Wright.
Antony Billington of LICC has produced a really helpful listing of commentaries on Matthew, and also highlights the value of France’s two volumes. He also highlights the value of Grant R. Osborne‘s Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on Matthew. On medium length commentaries, Antony includes:
D.A. Carson, ‘Matthew’ in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).This is a very light revision of a commentary first published in 1984. Although 30 years old, the commentary is a model exposition and is still worth consulting. Carson is particularly helpful on those places where Matthew is using the Old Testament, and he doesn’t neglect theological issues when commenting on the text. The edition cited here is bound with a treatment of Mark by Walter W. Wessel and Mark L. Strauss.
Charles H. Talbert, Matthew, Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010). An excellent contribution to this series, which is sensitive to literary concerns as well as issues related to historical background, and is also very helpful on how the gospel forms character.
Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew, NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004). Also an excellent contribution to its series. It’s a large book (but then, Matthew is a large gospel!), though you might want to consider buying this for personal use and sermon preparation if you’re a preacher. See also his much briefer Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002).
See Antony’s document for a full listing.
There are some other studies worth having alongside commentaries as well. I have really valued the essays in the Tyndale collection from the conference of 2005 Built Upon the Rock: Studies in Matthew. It includes essays on some key questions around Matthew, including Matthew’s source, his distinctive style, his relationship with Judaism, the challenge of anti-Semitism in key passages, and the dynamics of his use of the Old Testament. Fascinating stuff offering some unique insights.
Mark Allen Powell offers two unusual studies on aspects of Matthew. Chasing the Eastern Star looks at a range of ways of engaging with the birth narrative in Matthew. You might not agree with everything he says, but it opens up new ways to engage with the passage. His edited volume Methods for Matthew draws together different interpretative approaches to the gospel by different writers.
On a quite different note, Martin Goldsmith’s Matthew and Mission reads the text with a particular eye on its missional interests, and is quite devotional.
I have also written a number of blog posts on aspects and texts in Matthew which you might find useful.
If you have favourite or particularly helpful resources on Matthew, comment below, and I can add them to the list here.
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