Most helpful positive review
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2008
I've been using Dale Bruner's Matthew commentary for almost 20 years now, and was utterly dismayed that it was out of print for over a decade. My first copies (Red vol.1, Blue vol.2) are just about falling apart, pages are taped to the cracked through bindings, they're covered with red ink from underlining the rich, deeply evangelical things Bruner has to say. After a couple of years with this commentary, I brought it to a gathering of preacher friends & told them, "Not to be extreme, but in my opinion, as far as preaching & teaching in the church go, this is the BEST commentary EVER written on a biblical book, IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH!" They all smiled, but several of them got a copy for themselves & when our group met the next year every one of them who'd gotten it said, "We agree with what you said about Bruner's Matthew & if anything, you didn't praise it highly enough!"
What's so helpful is that Bruner does what every Bible teacher wishes THEY could do, he goes through the entire history of the church's readings & interpretations of each passage, what the great teachers of the church (very broadly & ecumenically understood - Bruner earned his doctorate in Hamburg, Germany; he began his teaching career as a missionary in the Philippines before a long & productive career at Whitworth College in Washington) have said & thought about a passage. As he makes clear in his introduction, he has been teaching Matthew to undergraduates but just as crucially to adult Bible study groups for over 30 years & that has kept him gloriously grounded in the relevance of Matthew's gospel to living, breathing, growing Christian disciples. He is involved in every bit of current academic scholarship on Matthew, but he always pushes the discussion on from academic issues to issues of, "What does this say to us as Christians, as disciples?" He will have you loving the Gospel of Matthew, especially the seemingly inscrutable things like Matthew's genealogy, which Bruner makes come alive: relevant, indispensable, teachable & yes, exciting! He will also (as one reviewer noted) have you checking back here when you are teaching parallel passages in Mark or Luke, because he always has an insightful comment on the differences between them & the differences they make in telling a story one way or another.
The only two problems with this commentary are two other ways of saying how great it is: (1) when you read it, there is so much great stuff on every page & covering every passage that you will have to fight yourself to retain your own dignity as a teacher & resist the urge to just take it to your lectern, your pulpit & just read it line for line to your group. (2) when I read this commentary, it makes me sit & look with no small frustration at all the other commentaries on my shelves & think of all the fruitless hours I've spent poring over their pages, vainly hoping to distill just one tiny little tidbit of spiritual food I could pass along to growing disciples. I find myself saying to the rest of my wall of commentaries, "What are you all doing?! You could be FEEDING the people of God like Bruner & instead you're all spinning your wheels on things that make no difference to living Christians. You're wasting our time!" This commentary is what a commentary should be & it shames a great many of the other residents of 'commentary world' for being so self-referential.
Dale Bruner is the Presbyterian Church's gift to Christendom. As with Eugene Peterson, my daily prayer is that both of these men will live to a great old age so they can finish the projects God has given them to do. (Bruner is rumored to be writing on John) I can't praise this commentary highly enough. Get it! Read it! Teach it! It will make you a better person, a better teacher/preacher, a better Christian.