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Matthew (New Cambridge Bible Commentary) Paperback – March 29, 2012
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"... this is an extremely valuable commentary that should take its place beside the best on the shelf. In the preface Evans states that this work 'is not written primarily for the scholar', but he expresses his hope, nonetheless, that 'scholars will find it useful' ... They will."
Nicholas G. Piotrowski, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
This book is a verse-by-verse analysis of the New Testament Gospel of Matthew. This commentary explores the historical, social, and religious contexts of Matthew and examines the customs, beliefs, and ideas that inform the text. Unfamiliar to many readers of the New Testament, this background will help readers fully understand the text.
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Don't expect lengthy discussion of variant readings or nuances of the Greek--if you want that, go to the Yale Anchor Bible or other multivolume commentaries. Also, Evans for reasons he does not explain constantly cites parallels to Jesus's sayings. For example, he glosses Mt 9:37 ("the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few" (aren't you glad I gave you the quote and not just the citation?!) by citing the Sayings of the Fathers ("Rabbi Tarfon said "the task is great and the laborers are idle"). Evans claims this shows Jesus' saying "seems to be proverbial." But aside from the fact that Rabbi Tarfon's laborers are idle, not few, Evans never tells us what period he lived in or when his statement was written down. There is no critical or even introductory discussion of the parallel Jewish and classical sources he cites--some of them seem to post-date Jesus by hundreds of years. In general I found the "parallels" neither compelling nor illuminating.
A minor point: the paper is excellent and the book is bound in signatures--another example of generosity in this series
Incidents/sayings in Matthew's gospel even when the contexts don't match. Too rarely does he comment on the substance of the passage. It's obvious that he has a wide grasp of second temple literature (or a handy concordance) but he doesn't seem to use those resources to shed light on interpretive issues in Matthew's gospel.
The New Cambridge Bible Commentary uniquely combined in-depth scholarship with readability and a user friendly structure. There are some commentaries that are so meticulous that they are difficult to read. There are others that are easy to read, but the content is too brief. This series seems to do a fine job at providing a middle ground. I have Bill T. Arnold's Genesis from the same series.
The series is edited by Ben Witherington III and it appears to span the broad spectrum of New Testament scholarship including people like Arnold, Evans, Witherington, and others like Walter Brueggemann, Craig S. Keener, Amy-Jill Levine, and Duane F. Watson.
The introduction is simple and straightforward. The commentary flows nicely addressing manageable portions of text. There are occasional supplementary sections called "A Closer Look" that appear in gray boxes throughout the commentary providing an aside on subjected like "The Holy Spirit," "Josephus on John the Baptist," "Demons in the Desert," and "The Disciples in the Talmud."
Evans does interact with other commentaries, but he is intentional about limiting the attention given to secondary literature. He prefaces that his primary conversation partners are the commentaries of John Nolland, R.T. France, Robert Gundry, and Craig S. Keener (p. xv). This doesn't mean that there is a lack of sources cited (I know, I did the indexing), but that the commentary does a solid job of being selective when mentioning and interacting with secondary literature so that the text itself is primary.
This is the work of a confessional scholar. Evans affirms the historicity of Jesus, the virgin birth, and so forth, but he does serious historical-critical work as well. I don't think I have to defend his reputation as a serious scholar of Christian origins and literature and Second Temple Judaism.
For the full review go here: (...)