A Banner Year for Matthew Studies

This year has seen an astonishing array of outstanding studies in the Gospel of Matthew. If pastors could only have access to commentaries on Matthew published in this year, they would not be seriously lacking in content. First off the block is a republication of this commentary, originally published in 1893, just after the author’s death. It shows the author at full maturity. The commentary is not lengthy (only 442 pages), but it does have that quality that Calvin prized so highly of “lucid brevity.” Spurgeon always preaches. This is a newly type-set edition, published in a well-bound hardback. I don’t really need to press people to get this. Pastors will know that they should own it.

Next we have this excellent addition to the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series. I have reviewed the other volume currently published here. I direct readers there for my initial thoughts about the series. The potential of this series for helping people to get a solid grasp of the flow of the text is enormous. I can only hope that they will start an Old Testament series along the same lines. This is a major series, and with forthcoming volumes on Ephesians and Galatians, it looks like they will be publishing steadily. Edit: they just became available at WTS today! Osborne teaches at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is a colleague of D.A. Carson. This volume is a heavy-hitter, weighing in at 1154 large-sized pages. He is a conservative when it comes to the text, and recognizes well the interdependency of history and theology. He denies neither in the text. This volume is full of insights, and is well worth the investment.

Speaking of Carson, he has revised his volume in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary for inclusion in the Revised Edition. Carson’s commentary has long been a standard in the field, and this revision brings it up to date. Carson’s work is by far the most bibliographically thorough of the four works discussed here. He even had the opportunity to interact with Turner’s volume (only published 2 years ago!). The value of Carson’s commentaries can hardly be overestimated. Obviously Osborne and Carson were not able to integrate fully the findings each of the other, although as colleagues at the same school who both wrote on Matthew, I’m sure they shared many thoughts together on Matthew over a cup of coffee. If pastors don’t purchase this volume, they are insane.

Last, but certainly not least, is the perfectionistic work by Knox Chamblin (volume 1 and volume 2). This is a simply massive commentary (almost 1600 pages in the two volumes!). The care that Chamblin took over this commentary is reflected in the amount of time it took to get these volumes to press. While as thorough as he could be (he spent more time in the books than in the articles), his bibliography is inevitably a tad behind (he could not even interact with France’s commentary, which was published 5 years ago). One should not view this as anything close to a substantial weakness, however, for the depth of treatment is unsurpassed. The only commentary that rivals this one for depth of treatment is Davies and Allison in the ICC. The advantage this commentary has over Davies and Allison is that Chamblin is a Reformed confessional author (he taught at RTS Jackson, where he is now emeritus). I need not spend any more time doing injustice to these magisterial volumes. Instead, I will quote Derek Thomas’s thoughts on these volumes: “If I were to be limited to only one commentary on Matthew, this would be the one.” As I said before, a banner year for Matthew studies. When one adds these four volumes to the ones recently published by France, Nolland, Turner, Wilkins, Bruner, Davies/Allison (1, 2, 3), Hagner (1 and 2), Blomberg, Doriani, Garland, and Keener, one will find all the modern help one could wish to have (one must not neglect older studies like Plummer and Meyer, of course).

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7 Comments

  1. Cris D. said,

    November 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Bountiful Bevy of books, indeed. We are going through Ephesians in mid-week groups, so I made up for lost time by getting O’Brien (Pillar), Hoehner, Snodgrass (NIV Application Comm) and Thielman (BECNT). I had Markus Barth (AB) from seminary days. Since I did not go into the pastorate there was a long gap in adding any commentaries to my library.

    What are your thoughts on the NIV Application Comm series? I’ve enjoyed using one or 2 where the author also has a more detailed exegetical volume out too.

    Are you going to read Gleason’s bio of Bavinck? I’ve just barely started it, the contents are great, but I think the publisher could have done better job than making it a “trade paperback”. It ought to have better paper and a hard cover like Meuther’s bio of CVT.

    -=Cris=-

  2. greenbaggins said,

    November 24, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Cris, NIVAC is always hit or miss. Some of the volumes are outstanding (Duguid on Ezekiel, Jobes on Esther, Oswalt on Isaiah, Wilkins on Matthew). But others are just plain old junk.

    Gleason is on its way to me. I agree completely that this should have been a hardback book, not least because it’s basically the only Bavinck bio we have.

  3. Paige Britton said,

    November 24, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Hey, Lane, is the Bruner you mentioned Dale Bruner? What do you think of his commentary?

  4. greenbaggins said,

    November 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Yes, Paige, that would be Dale Bruner. He has a lot of literary insights into Matthew, and is well aware of the history of interpretation. I think he goes astray more than once on a number of issues, but he’s definitely more helpful than not.

  5. November 25, 2010 at 2:45 am

    I picked up the Chamblin volumes in August and mentioned them on the Puritan Board (where I got the computer equivalent of a blank stare, which surprised me, as I assumed that Chamblin would be well-known in Reformed circles). It’s pleasing to know that they are in the same excellent series in which John A. Kitchen’s 2006 commentary on the Book of Proverbs and John A. Mackay’s 2-volume 2004 commentary on the Book of Jeremiah may be found. I’m especially interested in getting into Kitchen on Proverbs soon (DV).

    The church is being especially well-served by commentaries in this decade. Hope it continues.

  6. November 25, 2010 at 2:49 am

    One other thought on commentaries: C. E. B. Cranfield’s 2-volume commentary on Romans (ICC) is now more than 30 years old, and yet I think it’s well-nigh impossible to consider them obsolete. Yes, scholarship has moved on somewhat, but his volumes are so thoughtfully and elegantly written that it’s hard to think of them as, well, old.

  7. Ken Pierce said,

    November 28, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Thanks for highlighting Knox Chamblin’s commentary, Lane. It is truly a gem. I am privileged to be his pastor –a gift not to be despised!


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