Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Review of Matthew: A Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentary by O. Wesley Allen Jr.

O. Wesley Allen Jr.
ISBN 978-0-8008-9871-3
Fortress Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker
I have several Bible commentaries on Matthew. I like reading what they have to say. Each one has a unique perspective, and something to add to conversation. Having said that, this particular commentary is unique in what it offers and how it communicates. As such, I highly recommend it to mainline preachers who have a discipline of preaching from the Revised Common Lectionary.
On my shelf, I have some lectionary preaching guides as well as commentaries and studies that deal directly with the text. This commentary blends the best of both worlds. While dealing with and confronting each text directly, it does especially well at naming, exploring and speaking to its use in the RCL. It identifies where the passage is located in the Christian year, and how the themes of that passage directly relate to its placement in the lectionary. Unlike other preaching helps, Allen's scholarship and exegesis of the text goes much deeper than a standard "preaching guide". I believe that if a teacher of a Sunday School class were wanting to teach an in-depth Bible study in concert with the RCL text selections.
Allen also uses charts liberally, both in the main part of the text, as well as some of the helps that the author developed for understanding gospel's place in the Christian year and the preaching task.
Another thing I liked about the way Allen arranged the book is that he arranged his understanding of the book not so much around theological themes, or themes of content, but rather by setting. Being as I am deeply interested in a theology of place, this way of organizing the gospel intrigues me, and it will be something I study further.
Until then, I will add this to one of the resources I return to frequently for sermon and study preparation. 


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