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Craig Keener is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. Recognized for his expertise in the early Jewish and Greco-Roman context of early Christianity, he is the author of many books, including
(two volumes). Three of his books have won awards and together have sold over half a million copies.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Craig Keener is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. Three of his many books have won national awards, and his background commentary has sold over half a million copies (including electronic copies and translations). Craig is married to Dr. Medine Moussounga Keener, who holds a Ph.D. from University of Paris 7. She was a refugee for 18 months in her nation of Congo, and together Craig and Médine work for ethnic reconciliation in the U.S. and Africa.
This work must stand alongside that of the three volume work of W. D. Davies and Dale Allison in the International Critical Commentary as one of the best works on the first Gospel around. Keener's work is similiar in size and scope to that of another Evangelical scholar Robert Gundry, who published a commentary on Matthew a number of years back. However, Keener is more conservative than Gundry in many respects, especially on the historicity of Matthew. And, unlike Gundry, he brings an amazing amount of knowledge about the milieu and literature of the first century to bear upon this work in helping his readers to understand and appreciate this gospel - especially its literary and theological dimensions, and the social worlds that are presupposed and reflected in its story. Added to this are numerous excursions and notes on many themes interspersed throughout, providing more detail of a point made or defense of a position adopted. At times Keener has a penchant for being idiosyncratic and unusual in his views (although he argues them all very well). Holding views, in other words, that are neither characteristic of liberal or conservative commentators (of course, without people challenging the commonly held views on either side of the divide, scholarship would never progress!) So, if you want a detailed commentary that does not merely repeat what others have said, but makes an original and (often) compelling contribution to Matthean studies, this commentary is definitely a work that you will want to consult in my view.Read more ›
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Having been a very active user of the nearly encyclopedic 3 volume Davies and Allison work on Matthew, I wasn't sure how much more Keener could offer. I found myself immediately engaged by Keener's stylistic clarity, his directness, and his astonishing ability to both summarize current scholarship and argue for his own insightful and often original views with a conciseness and precision that should be a model for commentary authors. Unlike Davies and Allison, this is a not a commentary on the Greek text and Keener leaves discussion of text critical issues to others (which to many students, pastors, and lay readers may be a blessing.) The gracefulness with which he pulls in both Greco-Roman parallels and--very impressively--Jewish extraconical, Qumran, and rabbinic parallels, is equally impressive. But none of this gets in the way of Keener's determination to illuminate the theological, rhetorical, and historical thrusts within Matthew. Just turn to Keener's vivid discussion of the "yoke" saying in Matt 11:28-30 (pp. 348-349) for an example of an instant picture of the what it meant to carry a yoke, the useful citation of parallels in apocraphyl literature, a quick reference to Diogenes Laertes, and a clear explanation of the theological innovations of Jesus' own teachings in both theological and historical terms. Keener's is one of the very few commentaries written in the past half century that makes enjoyable reading both for students and pastors and for at least some interested lay readers. Though his stance is in some sense evangelical, his enlightening engagement with Jewish sources and thinking is more compelling and convincing than any other current commentary. Rarely has such erudition been worn so comfortably and unabtrusively. Very highly recommended!
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This is a huge, rich and very readable commentary, bringing to bear on every line of Matthew a knowledge of pagan and Hebrew literature that is simply breathtaking. Keener knows the ancient world. He gives you context as well as brilliant insight. --- Reviews and supporting quotes on this book point out its immense value for teachers and pastors. But this book is a great gift for the mainstream reader for two reasons 1)the clean and compelling writing, and 2)the fact that all quoted materials from sources ancient and modern are presented in English. (Usually in scholarly books of this sophistication, a reader like me is locked out by blocks of material in German, Latin and Greek. Not so here!) --- Do not be put off by the size of this work. Use it like an encyclopedia. Look up the passages that most trouble you or intrigue you. Move on, back and forth from there, and you'll gradually cover the whole book. --Let me also say that the book is infused with a genuine Christian generosity, a deep Christian faith. The opinions of other scholars are dealt with fairly and patiently, and Keener's convincing conclusions presented with eloquence and simplicity. --- Truly a magnificent and magisterial work. I keep this book at my side; I rank it with the scholarship of N.T. Wright -- the finest. (firstname.lastname@example.org.
You learn a lot about the social and cultural world behind the text of Matthew in this commentary by Craig Keener. He does a good job of showing how the text would be heard in the first century world. He also makes some helpful comments for preachers. For example, his point on Matthew 5:14-16 is that disciples of Christ are not in the secret service, they are to be as obvious as a city on a hill. A disciple who doesn't salt the earth or shine the light is useless.
His commentary is well written and not cluttered with a lot of technical jargon.
On the minus side, he does not always move word by word or verse by verse through the text. Working through the beatitudes was difficult because he mixed them all up out of order and didn't return to the second half of certian verses until near the end of the section. Very confusing. This is an issue all through the book.
Also, I would have liked a bit more exegesis and a little more of a picture of Matthew's theology. I would have been willing to live with a little less cultural information in order to make room for these other things.
But I still consult this immense work whenever I preach in Matthew. I guess my favorite commentaries on Matthew are the ones by Davies and Allison (expensive, though), and Leon Morris (much more affordable and practical).
Rev. Marc Axelrod
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