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124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb effort
This is the third important conservative commentary on Matthew to appear in the past decade; the other two being by Keener (1999) and Nolland (NIGTC, 2005). These three are massive commentaries (each one over 1000 pages), and taken together they provide the Christian community with excellent study tools for years to come.

Somewhat `earlier' volumes also of...
Published on September 3, 2007 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle format lack subtitles
The kindle format is in money too expensive and in feature very poor. It is difficult to find a page, and the summary is not complete, lacking all subtitles. Is impossible navigate by verses on commentary. I hope for up date.
Published 1 month ago by Carlos André da Cruz Leandro


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124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb effort, September 3, 2007
By 
Amazon Customer (Melbourne Australia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
This is the third important conservative commentary on Matthew to appear in the past decade; the other two being by Keener (1999) and Nolland (NIGTC, 2005). These three are massive commentaries (each one over 1000 pages), and taken together they provide the Christian community with excellent study tools for years to come.

Somewhat `earlier' volumes also of great importance include those by Carson (EBC, 1984), Blomberg (NAC, 1992), the two-volume set by Hagner (Word, 1993), and of course the three-volume work of Davies and Allison (ICC, 1988-1997). And France also penned the much shorter commentary on Matthew for the Tyndale series (TNTC, 1985).

France has been a leading Matthean scholar for decades now, and his newest effort is well worth the price of the book. Unlike many recent commentaries, it does not go for overkill in certain technical and critical matters. For example, the introduction is a mere 22 pages, and footnotes are kept to a minimum.

His NIGTC commentary on Mark was also in this (almost underkill) mode, and stood in stark contrast to the work of, say, Thiselton on 1 Corinthians in the same NIGTC series, which is inundated with countless footnotes, appendices, and so on (although many of us appreciate those sorts of commentaries as well; it is indeed a masterful work). It also stands in contrast to something like Keener's commentary on Matthew, with, for example, its 150-page bibliography of secondary sources!

Unlike these sorts of commentaries, France offers us a much more user-friendly version. As an example, France devotes just one paragraph to the question of authorship. He contends that authorship cannot be proven, but the gospel seems "to make someone like the apostle Matthew as likely a candidate as any". Nor does he spend much more time on the date of writing, but suggests that it was written in the sixties, while the temple was still standing, thus making better sense of the anti-temple theme found in the gospel.

Thus France has kept things relatively simple, so that the busy pastor or student can benefit, although he is obviously fully versed in the literature, and is able to deal with more technical matters when needed.

Many sections or pericopes could be mentioned. As to the so-called Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), France mediates between various extremes, such as the view which says these are lofty ideals which no one can attain to, or that they are simply nice ideas that we should not be too bothered about. "The discourse is indeed intended as a guide to life, but only for those who are committed to the kingdom of heaven, and even they will always find that its reach exceeds their grasp."

Consider his treatment of Matt. 18 and the issue of discipline. France reminds us that this is not some "Manual of Discipline" but a guide for individual disciples on how to live in relation to one another. Indeed, there is no mention of church leaders or officials here. Self-discipline is the fundamental basis of discipline in the community.

Or take the Olivet Discourse. France has been arguing a particular point of view for some four decades now concerning Matt. 24-25 in general, and 24:29-31 in particular, which may be at odds with the views of many readers. Yet he makes his case concerning the end of the world and the parousia graciously and with an ear to what others are saying.

Issues of exegesis and interpretation always have the potential to result in conflict and controversy. But France seems adept at dealing with differing points of view in a firm yet gracious manner. One need not agree with every direction that he takes to appreciate the enormous amount of reflection and study that has gone into this commentary.

The book itself is quite well written; differing points of view are treated fairly; and the sense of what Matthew is trying to convey is clearly presented here. It is a tremendous work and deserves a wide reading.

This is the second final commentary to appear in the NICNT series. All we now await is the 2 Peter/Jude volume. For a series that first began in the late 1940s, it has taken some time to complete. But the wait has been well worth it, and this volume by France demonstrates why the NIC series is amongst the finest evangelical commentary sets around.
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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Wait!, January 22, 2008
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William Varner "dribex" (Newhall, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
The long awaited volume on Matthew in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) has finally arrived. This venerable commentary series was launched over a half century ago under the editorship of Ned Stonehouse (1947-1962), followed by that of F.F. Bruce (1962-1990), and is (hopefully) being brought to completion under Gordon Fee (1990 -). The series was launched with a team of international scholars sympathetic to the Reformed faith from the U.K., the U.S., South Africa, and the Netherlands. The commentary series has been around long enough for some of the original volumes to be replaced (e.g., Luke and Romans) and for revisions by the author of some of the originals (e.g., John and Acts).

In light of the long history of the NICNT, one may wonder why it took so long for the Matthew volume to see the light of day. From an examination of old dust covers, one can see that the Gospel of Matthew was originally assigned to Stonehouse, but his untimely death caused it to be switched to Robert Guelich. For some reason, it was then assigned to Herman Ridderbos who for whatever reason did not complete it either. In his preface to this volume, editor Gordon Fee tells us that during his tenure since 1990 he had contracts for the Matthew volume returned to him by two "very capable" younger scholars. Finally, Fee says that one day he asked a fellow member of the Committee on Bible Translation (NIV/TNIV), Dick France, if he would take the commentary project, and what we have before us is the result.

For those familiar with Gospel studies, France is no stranger, having written a smaller commentary on Matthew for the Tyndale NT series, a separate book on Matthew's teaching, and a commentary on Mark in the NICGT series. France has also contributed a number of scholarly articles on Matthew, Jesus, and the Synoptics. No one seems more qualified to step into the gap at this point, and France does not disappoint with this volume.

Sadly, most commentaries from scholars of this caliber end up being a series of technical word studies somehow strung together, or they become a commentary on other commentaries, or they suffer from the unholy union of both those characteristics. France avoids both the pedantry of the first method (the one totally word based) and the endless lists of different interpretations characteristic of the second method (those who comment on other commentaries). He does this with constant attention in every individual pericope to how this section fits into the larger section in which it appears and how all of this fits into Matthew's larger strategy. He avoids the danger of simply providing a digest of others' interpretations by referencing other authors in the footnotes and majoring on telling us what he believes Matthew is saying. No one can accuse him of being unaware of scholarly opinion on Matthew. For example, his Bibliography of books, commentaries, and journal articles covers thirty five pages! He interacts with other views but majors on a fresh interpretation of the text.

Another refreshing aspect of France's treatment is that he places his emphasis on discovering what the canonical text of Matthew is actually saying to us. He does not follow those endless bypaths of source and redaction critics which mar many of the modern commentaries on Matthew. One thinks of the otherwise magisterial work of Davies and Allison, filled with insights both exegetical and theological, only to be marred by statements that this or that word/phrase in the text is certainly the work of a redactor. How can we be assured of that when no text of Matthew indicates such redaction? France tells us what the text means and does not get bogged down on questions like whether this verse was in Q or M, or if it is the result of a final redaction of those two or more sources. This also makes the commentary a much more valuable help for the preacher and teacher of Matthew.

France explains briefly the two dominant views about the structure of Matthew's gospel (2, 3). The first is the fivefold division based on the repeated statement, "And Jesus finished the sayings," (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). The second is the three-fold division base on the repetition of "From that time Jesus began to . . ." (47; 16:21). He opts for seeing the similar way in which Matthew follows a geographical procession of Jesus, as is in Mark. Thus he suggests the following overall outline. I. Introducing the Messiah (1:1-4:11); II. Galilee: The Messiah Revealed in Word and Deed (4:12-16:20); III. From Galilee to Jerusalem: Messiah and His Followers Prepare for the Confrontatio0n (16:21-20:34). IV. Jerusalem: The Messiah in Confrontation with the Religious Authorities (21:1-25:46); V. Jerusalem: Messiah Rejected, Killed, and Vindicated (26:1-28:15); VI. Galilee: The Messianic Mission is Launched (28:16-20. Thus, to France, semantic content trumps literary features in determining a book's structure.

Whether or not France is on target in his overall design of Matthew, he is at his best when he is interpreting an individual pericope or even a set of related pericopes. For example, he displays his very capable interpretive skills in his deft handling of the five pericopes in the Matthew nativity account (1:18-2:23). He recognizes the controversial way in which Matthew employs the OT quotations there and arrives at very satisfying conclusions which maintain the hermeneutical sanity of Matthew over against his modern detractors and critics. At this point one might wish to explain specifically how he does that, but due to space constraints I leave that delight to be discovered by the reader, who I am sure will not be disappointed by France's insightful method and his conclusions.

It is my judgment that this commentary should take its place among the best that have been written on Matthew. Will it dislodge the commentaries by Davies/Allison and Luz that are at the top of scholarly commentaries on Matthew? Probably not. Does it compare favorably with the evangelical classics by Carson and Hagner? Much in every way! But it should be one of the first that we open to find out not only what is being said about Matthew, but to find out what Matthew is actually saying!
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for Matthean studies, January 7, 2008
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This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
As a pastor who works through books of the bible for exegetical sermons, I find this commentary is not a disappointment. He does deal with the Greek text (which I love), so if you don't read Greek, you will find transliterated Greek mixed into the comments. Actual Greek fonts are used in the footnotes.

His summaries of views are succinct, with detail in some cases, but not too much information in trivial issues. I find this commentary gives a lot of exegetical insight to complement your own translation/exegetical efforts.

For example, France gives insights into John the Baptist in his section on Matthew 3. Although his cultural background insights do not rival Craig Keener's (get his commentary on Matthew too), his handling of how to interpret phrases and words is a direct aid to exegesis.

France gives insights from Qumran and Jewish inter-testamental literature as well as from pagan sources on the literary forms as well as structures within those forms. This commentary is very helpful, with a rapid fire of interesting ideas in condensed form for each section I have studied. It has quickly become my commentary of choice for Matthew.

Let me illustrate:

Matthew 5 is introduced with an overview on the Sermon on the Mount. He calls it a discourse on discipleship instead of the sermon on the mount. He says it reveals the Messiahs authority. As he gives a survey of the chapters, he then begins into chapter 5 little by little. As he starts into the Beattitudes, his little section on Makarios is indicative of the commentary so let me give a little of this for you to see what I mean.

He titles it "The Meaning of Makarios". Makarios is the transliteration of the Greek word that is often translated 'Blessed' or 'Happy'. France gives the Hebrew equivalent 'asre'. He points out that the Hebrew barak is not used, and that 'barak' is normally translated as blessed. As he digs into this term, it becomes clear that there is no English word that equivocates 'Makarios' and so he lands on 'Happy' without the psychological sense of feeling good. It means to be brought to a good place in some cases. The whole page of information is accurate, condensed with good, usable information AND helps the Non Greek /Non-Hebrew reader catch on to the issue with this crucial word in perhaps the most famous part of Matthew. When he is done with this, he then moves on to the structure of the beatitudes and does similar things. Then he compares Matthew's beatitudes to Luke's. Then he gives the OT background elements for the beatitudes. He adds to that the Eschatological Character of the Promises. Each of these is only about 3/4 of a page of information. But if you are preaching on the beatitudes, it is worth reading through to sharpen your mind on the setting and language issues involved with them.
Dr. France is to be congratulated for giving the Christian community a wonderful tool for preaching and teaching the gospel of Matthew.

I heartily recommend this commentary for Matthew study, research and preaching. Check out Keener on Matthew as well. It's a different kind of commentary, and is extremely useful as well.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The new starting place for Matthew studies in English, January 30, 2008
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This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
I finished working through this commentary a few days ago and it is probably the finest commentary I have ever read. R.T. France here joins lucidity - and the occasional pastoral insight - to the fruit of a long career of Matthean scholarship, and the result is a book that can be read profitably from cover to cover and not just reserved for reference.

FRANCE'S APPROACH is to comment primarily on the text in its canonical form. Comparisons to the other Synoptics are made especially when differences throw significant light on Matthew's distinctive contributions. France tends to reserve his direct engagement with other scholars for the footnotes, which is an outgrowth of his strategy to write a commentary on Matthew rather than a kind of tedious commentary on commentaries.

THE INTRODUCTION is relatively brief (just 22 pages) and readers are referred to his earlier work "Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher" for extended discussion of issues such as authorship and distinctive Matthean themes. In the present work France prefers to discuss issues as they arise naturally ad loc. As it turns out, France is of the opinion that this Gospel was written prior to 70 AD and therefore within 40 years of the events it narrates.

This is the place where CRITICISM is usually leveled to show, among other things, that the reviewer was paying attention. France is quite well versed in the OT/Hebrew Bible, but even so I believe more could have been done with the OT background. And certainly in places more could have been said, for example on the significance of John's baptism or Jesus' cleansing of the temple. For the temptation account (Matthew 4), France provides an extended discussion on its possible significance, but in the end he seems to waver and cannot finally decide where to come down. Finally, at 22:30 France wants to identify "in the resurrection" with "in heaven," which seems to me a lapse.

Regarding ESCHATOLOGY, France provides an illuminating discussion of Jesus as the Son of Man at 8:20 and 10:23. Frances' view of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 is particularly important in that he brackets 24:29-35 with what comes before it (on the destruction of the temple) rather than what comes after it (on the Parousia). His discussion here is quite careful and I think many will find it persuasive.

After more than 1000 packed pages, France leaves his readers wanting to continue exploring this magnificent Gospel. That is an achievement in itself!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On of the best?, February 7, 2013
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This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
If you want a commentary on the gospel of Matthew, this is the one to get. The author is a genuine authority on this book of the bible. He has been reading and studying in Matthew for most of his life. He communicates and documents very well in this book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and Comprehensive, March 19, 2010
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This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
Other reviewers have gone in to considerable detail, and I can whole-heartedly concur with all of the the 5-star reviews. Read them for a balanced synopsis of France's approach. Eerdmans has done an excellent job in the NICNT series, and France's contribution on Matthew is equal to Romans (Moo) and Revelation (Beale).

The scholarly depth and support for this particular work is incredible - 35 page Bibliography, 9 page modern author's index, subject index (including foot note discussions), and 35 page index of Biblical and ancient writings allow France's work to be easily investigated and pursued. The author gives a very good rendering of Matthew's style, making it enjoyable to read with linguistic and literary insight. His comparisons to the other Gospel accounts and the Old Testament quotations in Matthew make it a useful commentary on those passages as well. As another reviewer commented, his summaries are particularly well done - thorough, but not overly-detailed. Of all my commentaries on the gospels, I find myself repeatedly returning to France's work. Well done.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just love the thoroughness and humble observation of R. T. France, February 28, 2014
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This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
I taught our high school Sunday School class through the book of Matthew last year and wanted to have a bit more theological rigor in my lessons. I'm not a theologian but consulted a close friend who is, and he highly recommended France. What strikes me most about the writing style is the thoroughness of the research (many of the pages are half full of references, only half full of his commentary) and yet uncharacteristic humility with which he deals with the subject matter. I'm a practical reader, not an academic one, plus having to prepare a lesson for 14-17 yr old kids forces a certain pragmatism on me. So I'm often looking to cut to the chase and distill down to something a high school person can take to school with them on Monday. But France will not be so rushed! I read part of the commentary, say "oh, that's good", write it down, and am ready for the next verse. But France will end a compelling thought with something like "however, further insight into the grammar suggests such a conclusion, while historically popular, is not strongly supported by this text" or words to that effect. So I have to keep reading, past a couple more possibilities, until finally, France gives his opinion. And it's rarely some radical new position. Normally just a more finely-tuned view, built upon the hard work of many predecessors (with whom France is typically quite generous), and brought just that much further by France's painstaking research. I've not read widely in the commentary department and perhaps this is more common that I realize, but other commentaries I have read like more of a platform for the writer than an insightful work. I am left feeling smarter, but in reality not very well informed. France will have none of that. He maintains at once a viscous loyalty to the text itself, and a student's appreciation for the collective body of research. Where I've been accustomed to a simple, black and white picture that I can easily understand, France forces me to contemplate a high-definition, widescreen, with surround-sound. Full-spectrum, all the shades and nuance, and I'm back to my knees seeking divine help to understand it all. Which is where I should have been all along...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb commentary for preachers, January 11, 2012
This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
I'm a pastor preaching through the Gospel of Matthew, and cannot commend this commentary highly enough. I much prefer it to Leon Morris and Grant Osborne. If you're going to buy one commentary on Matthew, this is the one I would urge you to add to your library.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars buying a commentary, October 4, 2010
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This review is from: The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Hardcover)
perhaps a word to those looking to build a modest commentary library. i have the good fortune of owning davies and allison and was looking for another commentary with slightly less detail but a good theological reading of the text. nolland is excellent and probably the one to get if you can't afford D and A, but not as concise as i was looking for. hagner is probably what you get when you can't afford nolland. for a companion volume to a technical commentary leon morris is great but i find r.t.france more incisive. NB there is virtually no introduction in france - you are buying him for his section by section analysis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work, October 2, 2013
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Objective information; rich in cultural background data; profound spiritually.

I discovered the deep links and analogies to the Old Testament.
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