dinsdag 29 januari 2013

Review of: Charles H. Talbert, Matthew (PAIDEIA), Baker Academic, 2010

Charles H. Talbert, Matthew (PAIDEIA), Baker Academic, 2010

Review in: The Expository Times 2011 122: 465
Review door: Paul Foster
Gevonden op: http://ext.sagepub.com/content/122/9/465.full.pdf+html

Charles H. Talbert, Matthew, Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. $29.99. pp. xxiii + 376. ISBN: 978-0-8010-3192-2).

The purpose of the Paideia commentary series is to comment upon sense units rather than verse-byverse analysis, and to highlight the theological concerns of the text under discussion. Talbert performs both of these tasks in an engaging and admirable manner, but without neglecting important historio-critical matters.

His introduction consists of three main sections. The first is a staccato, yet highly informative survey of major options relating to historical questions. In relation to authorship and language he notes the tension between patristic testimonies and modern scholar opinions (pp. 3-4). On dating, the general consensus of between 80 and 100 is noted, the locale is seen as a more open question, although the recipients are more confidently identified as urban non-elites (see pp. 4-5). In terms of source criticism, the Two Source Theory is broadly supported, but informed by more modern perspectives that discuss categories of  hypertext’ and ‘hypotext’ or ‘pretext’, as well as seeing Matthew’s story aligned with the phenomenon of ‘rewritten bible’. The second section is a substantial theological discussion concerning Matthean soteriology. Talbert states that in ‘NT scholarship it is believed that, at least to some degree, the relation of the indicative (gift) and imperative (demand) in Matthew constitutes a theological problem for Christians’ (p. 9). Talbert argues that Matthew’s soteriology (contrary to much scholarly opinion) is controlled by the prior indicative. It is suggested that divine activity (the indicative) is operative in the narrative through ‘omnipotence behind the scenes.’ This is achieved via four techniques in Matthew’s method of narration: (1) statements affirming ‘I am with you’; (2) invoking the divine name; (3) expressions such as ‘it has been revealed to you’; and (4) being with Jesus. The tekst of Matthew is read through this theological lens which Talbert detects, and it is this approach that gives the commentary its fresh approach.

Each section of the commentary discusses a range of different aspects of the text. Taking Matthew 1.1-2.23 ‘Birth Narratives’, as an example, Talbert first surveys ‘introductory matters’. He explains why Matt 1-2 should be treated separately from Matt 3-4, discusses possible pre- Matthean sources behind this material, and the arrangement of material in these two chapters (pp. 28-30). Next follow comments on the individual units and an analysis of the function of the whole unit (pp. 31-40). This section is interspersed with tables outlining the narrative structure or related issues of interest such as the role of the women in the genealogy, along with illustrations including a photograph of the Church of the Nativity and a Dürer woodcut depicting the visit of the magi. Such features, which occur throughout the commentary, ensure that readers will find its multimedia approach highly informative and usable.

Talbert has produced a commentary on Matthew that offers new insights into the text and meets the goals of the Paideia series. This treatment deserves a place on bookshelves alongside the more substantial treatments of the Matthean text. Like Talbert’s previous volume in this series on Ephesians and Colossians, this commentary offers rich theological insights into the text it analyzes.

School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

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