On November 10, Zondervan’s Koinonia Blog asked for participants to sign up for a blog tour of their Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament volumes for Matthew, Galatians and Ephesians.
I submitted a request for Matthew by Grant R. Osborne and last Thursday the volume turned up in the mail.There have not been a great number of recent scholarly volumes on Matthew’s gospel produced, so Osborne’s work, along with the recently published 2 volume work by Knox Chamblin are welcome. Matthew is currently part of the preaching schedule for Mount Gambier Presbyterian Church, and we anticipate resuming exposition of the Gospel in the second quarter of 2011.
So, some thoughts on Grant Osborne’s Matthew Volume in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament Series. By the way, it was not expected that recipients would need to provide a ‘cover to cover’ examination of their volume. Just as well. (Review copy supplied by Zondervan Publishers.)
This book is bigger than a tour of Australia by Oprah!
Don’t read it in bed. If you go to sleep the weight will probably crush your ribcage. 1154 oversized pages, hard cover, well bound. The book will lie open at just about any page, which is a help when studying. Nothing less practical than books that won’t lay open. Print size is generous and easy to read, with footnotes, not endnotes being utilised, a feature that encourages further study and interaction with other scholarship.
The ZECNT series has adopted a format by which each section of Scripture is considered in the following seven components: Literary Context; Main Idea; Translation and Graphical Layout; Structure; Exegetical Outline; Explanation of the Text; and Theology in Application. The commentary is based on the Greek text. The English Bible translation used is that of the TNIV, Today’s New International Version. It is an interesting choice, given that the TNIV is being superseded by an updated NIV translation over the coming year. I don’t know if forthcoming volumes in the series will adopt the newer translation when published. In any case, the reproduction of full English and Greek texts in the body of the commentary keeps consideration of the Scripture front and center and encourages the reader to think about and interact with the author’s commentary material.
Osborne affirms Matthew as the author and suggests a preferred date of AD65-67 for the Gospel’s writing. He provides a useful overview of controversies over authorship and dating in the process. The outline provided acknowledges the work of others and identifies seven main sections within the book. This outline is reproduced, section by section at the start of each chapter in ‘scroll down’ frame.
The Commentary Chapters.
As mentioned above, each chapter commences with a brief statement placing the section of Scripture under examination in its literary context within the progress of the whole Gospel. Matthew 16:13-20, for instance, is identified as a climactic and pivotal moment in the narrative. This then transitions to a short description of the main idea of the passage, Christology, with secondary emphases on discipleship and blessing also noted.
Osborne’s visual outline of the Greek text is then laid out in English translation in a way that shows the structure of the passage, a method that is further assisted by the use of varying font displays and the use of tags which identify various elements within the narrative.
The notes on Structure and Literary Form for this passage inform us that this is ‘a combination of a paradigm event and a pronouncement story’. The conversation between Jesus and Peter reveal the nature of Jesus’ identity and then Jesus pronounces a blessing.
The Exegetical Outline expands on the overview statement ‘Peter’s confession and Jesus’ blessing’ and produces a detailed outline of the passage that identifies numerous aspects for consideration in the three main sections of the section.
The explanation of the text follows a verse by verse form that begins with English translation and then Greek text. Osborne moves confidently through the text, engages constructively with wider scholarship, and even manages to affirm that Peter is the rock to which Jesus makes reference when He talks about building His church (vs 18) without succumbing to papal apostolic succession.
The Theology in Application section closes the chapter with Osborne able to identify the relevant theological themes of the passage, eg. 1. The Messiah and His Kingdom; 2. Peter is the Foundation and the Representative Disciple; & 3. The Church as a New Eschatological Authority. Each of these themes can then be related to other places where they are evident.
These Theology in Application points are supplemented by a concluding essay on The Theology of Matthew.
A comprehensive and useful commentary for the preacher and student of Matthew.
It is a volume that brings scholarship to bear in a way that encourages the reader to study the text and not simply mine the book for Osborne’s own (worthwhile and valuable) observations. It brings a focus to each passage of Scripture, while also allowing each passage to be appreciated in its wider canonical context. I’ll look with great interest to see how other authors in the series have made use of the textual analysis format which the series has adopted.
In addition, if anyone wanted to learn how to be a faithful and fruitful student of the Scriptures, or to sharpen their existing skills, they would be well served by engaging with the model of scholarship which is provided by Grant Osborne in the Matthew volume of the ZECNT and adopting a similar pattern for their own textual studies.