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Matthew for Everyone: Part 2 (New Testament Guides for Everyone): Pt. 2 Paperback – 22 Mar 2002
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"No other commentary series comes even close." --The Christian Century
"Readers who have been frustrated by the lack of accessible biblical commentaries for laypersons will welcome the series." --Publishers Weekly
"Well grounded in scholarship, accessible, and intensely contemporary. The series is a most welcome one!" --Walter Brueggemann, Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary
"Wright has accomplished a feat in this series. All the time, I tell Bible readers, 'Begin here!'" --Scot McKnight, North Park University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Tom Wright is is Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews. He is a regular broadcaster on radio and television. Tom Wright is the author of over forty books, including the other For Everyone guides to the New Testament, the best-selling Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope, and Virtue Reborn; and the magisterial series entitled Christian Origins and the Question of God.
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In short commentaries that draw fom his own life and learning, Wright helps get to the hidden treasures of this Gospel. He is good at framing the Gospel events in the worldviews of Jesus and His contemporaries, helping us to crack the code. And so we understand the imporatance of the recurring theme in this Gospel of the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets, so that, for example, we understand the significance of key passages like Daniel 7 to the theme of Jesus as Messiah and 'Son of Man.' We are shown how Jesus took the traditional Jewish understanding of these concepts and transformed them to a fulfilment that was truly revolutionary. Jesus's contempoararies would have known how Moses led the nation of Israel through the Red Sea to freedom, overcoming the armies of the enemy. They could not have dreamed how Jesus's death on the cross leads us all through the sea of sin and death, to the promises of Grace and salvation.
Here, Wright pulls together the apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians and links it to the two letters to the Thessalonians. The rational for this (since they don't sit next to each other in the New Testament) is that they are the three earliest of Paul's letters and so, presumably are coming from a similar theological place. The commentaries on Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, which sit between Galatians & Thessalonians in the New Testament, appear in a separate volume of "Prison Letters".
The "For Everyone" tag line, as well as the informal author name (Tom Wright rather than N T Wright), tells you who this is aimed at. Although he is a respected theologian who has contributed much to New Testament thought, here Tom Wright is writing for the ordinary reader, for those who don't have a theology qualification.
The style is friendly and informal includes a complete translation of the letters (written in a similarly friendly and informal style). After each section, Wright then comments and looks at the issues raised, usually beginning with a sermon illustration-type story.
For me, the style is almost too informal and slangy. Not that I think it should be overly ponderous and respectful, but just that it would probably sound better being read out loud than written down. The overall impression is of a friendly vicar paraphrasing the reading before launching into a short homily on it. But that, I suppose, is the point.
It is a volume small enough to fit into a coat pocket, divided into entries with a short passage of scripture (Wright's own, occasionally idiosyncratic, translation) followed by a couple of pages of reflections on the passage. Typically, these will include both an anecdote from the author's experience or an observation from life today as well as exposition about the context of the times, or description of relevant passages from the rest of the scriptures.
Wright's writing has been aptly described as "smooth as chocolate" and these reflections are immensely readable. They could be good for private bible reading though we have used them successfully in a parish reading group: people of all levels of Christian knowledge (people exploring the Bible for the first time, as well as those who've been reading the scriptures for eight decades) found it worthwhile.
There are occasionally passages where Wright is simply brilliant - illuminating even when the text is murky or complex e.g on aspects of the apocalyptic parts of Matthew - and at other places, he's inspirational. Equally, in my view, there are times when his interpretation is plainly wrong: but then, he's an evangelical and I'm not, so that's to be expected. And who wants to agree with what they read all the time?
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