A comprehensive study guide to the biblical book of Matthew.
Walker’s debut commentary and lesson plan for the New Testament’s opening account of the life and sayings of Jesus is a thorough, genial work, perfect for Bible study classes and nonexperts. Her short introduction mostly skirts the Gospel’s deeper exegetical issues, although more serious students may take her assertion that “Bible scholars are not united as to whether or not Matthew himself entirely wrote the gospel” with a grain of salt; in fact, Bible scholars are virtually unanimous in asserting that the Gospel dates late enough to preclude its having been written by an eyewitness. Throughout, Walker provides clear, patient evaluation and illustration of Matthew’s account. She even points out his preoccupations; for instance, she writes that he continually stressed all the ways that the arrival of Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies because he was intent on convincing Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. After each chapter and verse, Walker provides readers with several aids to test what they’ve just read, including multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions as well as many open-ended discussion questions (“Do you think it was important for Jesus to meet privately with his disciples and discuss the parables which he used to teach people? If so, why?”). The book also draws on the other Gospels and Paul’s letters, creating a rich context for Matthew’s account. Oddly, Matthew’s actual verses aren’t included, so readers will need to have the book open beside them as they read along. However, the extra effort will be rewarded. Walker provides unhurried, nonjudgmental introductory New Testament study, and her discussion questions are uniformly excellent, particularly for beginning students. They not only dissect individual events, but also broaden the inquiry to include Matthew’s underlying philosophies. Understandably, the book’s starting assumption is that all four Gospels are uniform and implicitly contemporaneous accounts of Jesus’ ministry, so readers looking for textual deconstruction should look elsewhere. This is instead a guide to enhancing one’s personal faith through scriptural knowledge.
A careful, thoroughly enjoyable guide to the most entertaining of the Synoptic Gospels.