Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review of Feasting on the Gospels: Matthew, Volume 1: Chapters 1-13 edited by Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson



Feasting on the Gospels: Matthew, Volume 1: Chapters 1-13
edited by Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson
ISBN 978-0-664-2540-6
WJK Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I have reviewed several resources from Westminster John Knox press, and their Feasting on the Word Series. I have found both the devotionals and worship guides very helpful for me in keeping my personal and corporate worship grounded in good thinking, solid scholarship, and spiritual depth.

The latest release in the Feasting on the Word series is this commentary on Matthew. For those of you familiar with the "Feasting" series, you will know that the commentary series began as guides for teachers and preachers exploring lectionary texts. Returning to the core of their material here with the commentary on Matthew, the people at Feasting on the Word and WJK Press are organizing some old and some new material in a manner that is organized more like a traditional commentary, in that this commentary is based on a book of the Bible.

Each text unit within the commentary is analyzed with four different interpretive lenses. First, it is looked at theologically. This asks how this passage fits into the bigger message of God in Scripture, and how this passage might inform right thought and believe. Then, there is a pastoral perspective, with an emphasis in how this passage might work its way into either ministry of pastors or everyday spiritual lives of congregants. Next, there is the exegetical perspective, which focuses in on the text and draws out the details of what this small individual text is saying to its individual readers. Finally, there is a homiletical perspective, which attempts to guide the reader in how the specific passage might preach to one's congregation. Each entry is written by a different person, so there are people writing from different perspectives and backgrounds as they attempt to accomplish interpreting the text with different goals in mind. The result is a multi-layered in depth commentary that allows you to see the passage from a number of different angles.

I look forward to this next step by the Feasting on the Word folks. I will use this commentary alongside others in my sermon preparation in the next year. I think it would be helpful for initiating both good thinking and good preaching that is based upon wise interaction and submission to God's Word.

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