Commentary Survey: Matthew

Here are my thoughts on commentaries for the book of Matthew, to be updated in the future as needed:

Hands down, no question, the best commentary for the book of Matthew is Davies and Allison’s ICC commentary. I usually find the ICC as a series to be dry, painfully technical, and of zero use to preachers or teachers in a local church. D&A is different. They do get pretty technical, but their technical work is so good and illuminating that it’s worth reading. Not only that, they also show you a stunning range of history of interpretation, and they are not afraid to illuminate the theological implications of the text. It is extremely rare to get all of this in one commentary. It is not easy reading, and it is not cheap (3 volumes, $50 a pop), but if you’re willing to make the investment of time, money, and mental energy, it is extremely rewarding.

For the less adventurous, Dale Bruner’s Matthew commentary is the go-to mid-range commentary. He will often give you a summary of what Davies and Allison say about a passage, saving you the time of slogging through their original work. Like Davies and Allison, he does some great work with history of interpretation, but he narrows his focus to a few “friends,” like Luther and Matthew Henry. He make the book of Matthew come alive, and he has plenty of ideas for how to preach the text, if you’re into that sort of thing. His tone is very colloquial and conversational, to the point of sounding silly at times. I have to admit: I sometimes find his chattiness to be distracting from what the passage is actually saying.

Don’t bother with Stanley Hauerwas’s Matthew “commentary.” It should not be called a commentary. It should be called “Story time with Stanley.” It would be worth reading if you were a big Hauerwas fan and wanted to read what would the be the equivalent of his album b-sides.

Lastly, I have spent very little time with Craig Keener’s Matthew commentary, but what I have read was good, as is usually the case with Keener.


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