Monday, January 16, 2006

Top Ten Recent Commentaries on Matthew: Number One
In general, I think the rule of thumb for selecting these commentaries is as follows: if your library burned down, and you were slowly rebuilding your collection of commentaries (on a limited budget), what would I recommend?

1) My favorite commentary on Matthew is David E. Garland, Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the First Gospel (New York: Crossroad, 1993; Smith & Helwys, 2000). This is the "nicely equipped Honda Civic" of Matthew commentaries, the first commentary I would recommend to students, pastors, and teachers who are non-Matthean specialists. Reading Matthew exhibits superb handling of literary style with an eye towards the message of the text, and appropriate and concise use of contemporaneous historical data. Because of the format, Garland is "to the point" (apx 300 pages). His writing style is very good and his conclusions reliable and unforced. This is not a high-octane research volume (no indices or footnotes, for example), but Garland has clearly done his homework; there are enough references in the text to keep you engaged and send you elsewhere.

Smith & Helwys volumes aren't the cheapest, but I think you get what you pay for with this volume. I know of nothing its size which can match the attention to literary flow/style, without getting bogged down in full-blown literary critical, historically-blind analysis. For a bargain on this volume, try bestbookdeal.com, search ISBN 1573122742.

This book also pairs up well with any of the others in the top five. For instance, if you have Carson and this book, you're probably set as an evangelical (though give France a read on Matt 23-25). Or if you have Davies-Allison and this book, you've got a great balance between in-depth historical and source-critical investigation and the traits Garland offers.

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