Saturday, January 14, 2006

Top Ten Recent Commentaries on Matthew

In this series, I'm listing my favorite "recent" commentaries on Matthew, of those published since, say, 1950. It is difficult to differentiate between commentaries which are (in my estimation) close in value, so these are in clusters, with some "ties" sharing the same number. Here are numbers 6-10, with comment.

10) Robert H. Gundry -- (Chrysler PT Cruiser--interesting but a bit too unusual) Gundry is too eccentric to be of top value, but he is no one's stooge. I'm not too positive about his approach to midrash and redaction and source criticism, and I find some of his conclusions very strange (Matt 1-2 as a midrash on the OT and nativity material from Luke; see also the first page or so, where he thinks "huiou Abraam" [son of Abraham] might modify David, rather than Jesus--which is grammatically possible, but odd beyond belief. Nonetheless, this commentary is certainly worth investigating.

6) Warren Carter -- (Volvo Hybrid Power) Written specifically as a commentary from the point of view of the marginalized, Carter is probably the least known commenator on Matthew (save for the #1). Carter is willing to read his own interests into the text (aren't we all), and a few of them succeed; many others are thought-provoking. Carter helpfully tries to steer a middle ground between historical and literary critics via "audience-oriented criticism." His other works on Matthew are also worth consulting, forming a nice corpus, albeit narrowly-focused and sometimes lacking in macroexegetical (i.e., theological) sense. In some ways, Carter will be far better on some passages (Beatitudes) than others. Manages to incorporate feminist and ideological scholarship on Matthew more than Keener, Hagner, Luz, Gundry, or Davies-Allison. On the flip side, however, he almost completely ignores conservative scholars.

6) Craig S. Keener -- (Lincoln Town Car) Encyclopaedic in his references to ancient sources, sometimes (often?) without being at all informative. Fully 30 % of his commentary is subject index, author index, and bibliography (none of which are exhaustive). Some of the commentary is quite good, however.

6) Donald Hagner -- (Dodge Caravan, with no extras) Good commentary. I'm still not sold on the WBC format. Not always as successful at examining and integrating diverse opinions as he probably should be. Still more valuable than e.g., Gundry, given his large bibliography (which is still not complete) and the less adventuresome approaches he takes to the text.

6) Craig L. Blomberg -- (Ford Taurus) Quite underrated; Blomberg is a very good exegete. In my experience (which is admittedly limited) this is the best NT commentary in the NAC series. If you are a dispensationalist or premillenial, go to Blomberg or Carson. Do not make the mistake of going with Walvoord, Touissant, etc., none of whom are true scholars of Matthew (even if they are experts at putting Matthew into their system).

4 Comments:

Blogger Michael F. Bird said...

Keener should rank a bit higher. It is exegetically sound also very useful for sermon writing. His one sentence bold-text summaries of pericopae could be sermon points.

6:29 AM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Alright, fair enough...but who gets bumped?

1:05 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger theswain said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure I agree that helpful for sermon writing makes it a better commentary....

1:44 PM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Given that the majority of people using commentaries are using them during sermon preparation, it's a little strange to think being more helpful for sermon writing doesn't count as one (among many) good-making feature of a commentary.

Carson and Blomberg's views on Israel and the law would be anathema to dispensationalists. Their sort of view is closer to Reformed covenant theology than it is to dispensationalism (especially given that they're both Reformed).

12:08 PM, March 03, 2006  

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