Matthew

by Stanley Hauerwas

978-1-58743-095-4

272pp. $29.99c

Publication Date: December 2006



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Stanley Hauerwas (PhD, Yale University) is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke University. He is the author of numerous books, including Cross-Shattered Christ, A Cross-Shattered Church, With the Grain of the Universe, A Better Hope, and Matthew in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible.

Reviews

“What’s nice to see is that the individual commentators have been allowed to retain their own voices in this series; Hauerwas is as delightfully irascible and hard-hitting as ever. . . . Hauerwas attends to the Gospel chapter by chapter, teasing out theological themes while resisting the temptation to create a systematic Christology. He draws on theologians like Barth, Augustine, Origen and especially Bonhoeffer, whom he quotes and paraphrases often, as well as New Testament scholars and eclectic writers like Wendell Berry. Insightful and provocative, Hauerwas adds a valuable theological perspective to the Gospel of Matthew.”—Publishers Weekly

“This commentary reveals the strong links between Matthew and Hauerwas’s own extensive bibliography, and even more the links that connect Hauerwas and Matthew to the works of John Howard Yoder, Reinhold Niebuhr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and an ecumenical enclave of contemporary theologians. . . . As Hauerwas works through the narratives, sermons and parables of Matthew, and especially the Sermon on the Mount, he displays the profoundly biblical basis of the positions he has expounded over the years. Readers who have followed Hauerwas’s writings closely will recognize themes, incidents and favorite interlocutors whom Hauerwas draws into a marvelous, improbable quilt of biblical theology. . . . By interweaving contemporary and historical narratives with the plot of Matthew’s Gospel, he displays the power of narrative exposition. . . . Likewise, Hauerwas shows the value of a figurative imagination in biblical reading; he continually draws Matthean motifs together with similar features in the rest of the Bible and shows where subsequent generations found the basis for their doctrinal reasoning. In the passages where Matthew, Hauerwas and their shared interlocutors all strike the same chord, the approach vindicates the value of this series to libraries already glutted with commentaries. . . . This commentary serves readers admirably by connecting the points that lie between the first and 21st centuries and by reminding readers that Matthew’s Gospel has played a deep, broad role in centuries of theological reflection. . . . [It] advance[s] the cause of a less problematic, more harmonious theological reading of the Bible. It will appeal most to readers who already appreciate Hauerwas’s writings, to preachers, and to those hardy theological explorers who, with Hauerwas and Reno, persist in seeking a better rhetoric in theological commentary on scripture.”—A. K. M. Adam, Christian Century

“There is much about the vision for the series that I find attractive. . . . A refreshing feature of this kind of commentary is that comment is disciplined and shaped in relation to what is significant for Christian faith. In a relatively small book, there is substantial discussion of a whole host of issues that are of profound importance to Christians. Sometimes the discussion remains theologically abstract, but often it is compellingly relevant and at times quite moving. . . . The commentary is the work of one capable of acute observation and profound thought. At his best Hauerwas shows some real sensitivity to Matthew’s story-telling technique. . . . There will be those who find in this commentary a breath of fresh air. There is certainly much to challenge and inspire Christian readers.”—John Nolland, Review of Biblical Literature

“[This] volume tries to show what a patristically informed, theological sensitive hermeneutic would look like in actual practice. Brazos was wise to ask Stanley Hauerwas to write its volume on the Gospel of Matthew. . . . The result is the most satisfying work of Hauerwas’ in some years. . . . In this work, all of Hauerwas’ strengths—his Christocentrism, his theological passion, his rigorous and demanding love for the gathered church—are amplified through the words of the evangelist to serve as a resource for preaching and teaching in the church. I for one am much more likely to turn here than to any more typically modern commentary for help in preaching.”—Jason Byassee, Books & Culture

“The value of the commentary is its bringing Matthew into unity with the rest of the biblical witness to the Gospel as that witness has been expounded by the church. The soundness of the commentary lies in Hauerwas’s own theology having been honed by the church. . . . Throughout, the commentary reflects the way that genuine dialogue with the Bible sheds light on the economic, political, military, and cultural dimensions of every generation. . . . This Brazos series can play an important role in reminding one of the community’s indispensable role in understanding the Bible, and Hauerwas’s contribution to the series is a formidable one indeed!”—Gene L. Davenport, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

“I would recommend [this commentary] especially for devotional reading. Hauerwas is not afraid to question long-held evangelical assumptions related to the family . . ., politics, war, poverty and wealth, and sexuality. While many will disagree with both his interpretations of Matthew and his conclusions on these hot-button issues, they are substantial and deserve careful attention. . . . His reading of the First Gospel at times reveals profound insights and moves one to follow harder after Jesus.”—Joel Willitts, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

“[Hauerwas’s aim] is to show the ‘how’ of Matthew’s work, or the practical wisdom exercised in his unfolding of the Gospel story. . . . He comments on each chapter of Matthew, using the chapter divisions for assisting readers to arrive at a fuller sense of the continuity of the story. . . . Hauerwas provides insightful spiritual and moral commentary. . . . Hauerwas’s commentary on Matthew integrates . . . the exegetical, the theological, and the ecclesial. As a result, his reading is more focused and more intensive. What he does is both instructive and encouraging for contemporary preachers. . . . Hauerwas reads us into Matthew’s story of the gospel so that we might be trained to be disciples of Jesus. We are fortunate to have [this commentary] to help us read the word of God for the work of ministry.”—Michael Pasquarello III, Journal of Theological Interpretation

“Hauerwas endeavors not to write about Matthew so much as to write alongside Matthew. Inasmuch as he thinks alongside Matthew, Hauerwas moves in a different direction than historical studies and becomes somewhat of an artist himself. . . . Hauerwas is not afraid to ‘read our lives into the story that Matthew tells.’ In fact, this is what makes this theological commentary stand out from others. . . . Perhaps Hauerwas’ most significant contribution to the emerging genre of theological commentaries is found in his emphasis of Matthew’s role in the church’s communal life throughout the ages and his hope that his commentary be ‘read as the theology of the church.’. . . His considerations that connect Matthew to a contemporary audience are well-crafted, insightful, and cannot be dismissed easily. All will appreciate the conviction, clarity, and profundity with which he writes; some of Hauerwas’ opponents might even find themselves reassessing previous disagreements in light of Hauerwas’ close conversation with Matthew. This commentary might also be of particular interest to Hauerwas enthusiasts since it demonstrates a deep-seated biblical foundation for a great deal of his previous work. Shapes and contours of his theology that have never been explicitly linked in other writings are also brought together in this one volume. . . . On the whole, Hauerwas certainly proves to be Matthew’s faithful interpreter. While most commentaries strive to connect contemporary readers to the first century, Hauerwas also gives heed to Matthew’s vast interpretive history, a noteworthy achievement. . . . Anyone wishing to become acquainted with theological exegesis should consider this volume. Hauerwas offers a fresh perspective on Matthew that is aberrantly insightful, colorful, compelling, and powerful. Well-written, fast-paced, and accessible to laity, Hauerwas delivers thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation between Matthew’s gospel and American culture that aims to do no more than ‘position the reader to be a follower of Jesus.’”—Thomas Seat, Princeton Theological Review

“Hauerwas’ commentary on Matthew . . . carries forward the Word once delivered to Zwingli, and will prove to be one of the most profitable places to discern the arrival of that Word today. It comes as something of a blessed relief to have the Brazos series. I in no way want to suggest that the labors of biblical scholars are not an essential part of the work of the church, but it is a welcome development to have a set of modern commentaries that follow more closely what Augustine, Chrysostom, Zwingli, Luther, and Calvin once did. . . . The series could not have chosen a better commentator for Matthew than Hauerwas. . . . Hauerwas shows himself particularly adept at illustrating Jesus’ continuity with the prophets. . . . Matthew is read and exposited so that we might understand God’s holy Word, and do what we have understood. Hauerwas’ Matthew is the thunder peal that has followed Zwingli’s lightening strike.”—James F. Cubie, Koinonia

“My own experience of reading Bible commentaries has often been frustrating; their linguistic dissection of verb tenses and technical comparisons of what other scholars have written has generally left me spiritually hungry. The Brazos series moves to theological reflection, and I have been very grateful for the volumes . . . that I’ve read. . . . Readers who are familiar with [Hauerwas’s] many other works will not be surprised to find heavy doses of Augustine, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Yoder. Hauerwas is at his prophetic best in pointing us to the disruption and offense provoked by the Gospel.”—Daniel B. Clendenin, journeywithjesus.net