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The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) [Hardcover]

By R. T. France (Author)
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Item description for The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) by R. T. France...

France focuses on Matthews text as it stands, rather than the prehistory of the material or any synoptic differences, concerned with what "Matthew" meant to convey about Jesus. He offers an extremely thorough exegesis of each section as part of a carefully planned literary whole, supplemented by verse-by-verse comment. (Biblical Studies)

Publishers Description
"It is a special pleasure to introduce R. T. (Dick) France's commentary to the pastoral and scholarly community, who should find it a truly exceptional ? and helpful ? volume." So says Gordon Fee in his preface to this work. France's masterful commentary on Matthew focuses on exegesis of Matthew's text as it stands rather than on the prehistory of the material or details of Synoptic comparison. The exegesis of each section is part of a planned literary whole supplemented, rather than controlled, by verse-by-verse commentary, allowing the text as a complete story to come into brilliant focus.

Rather than being a "commentary on commentaries," The Gospel of Matthew is concerned throughout with what Matthew himself meant to convey about Jesus and how he set about doing so within the cultural and historical context of first-century Palestine. France frequently draws attention to the distinctive nature of the province of Galilee and the social dynamics involved when a Galilean prophet presents himself in Jerusalem as the Messiah.

The English translation at the beginning of each section is France's own, designed to provide the basis for the commentary. This adept translation uses contemporary idioms and, where necessary, gives priority to clarity over literary elegance.

Amid the wide array of Matthew commentaries available today, France's world-class stature, his clear focus on Matthew and Jesus, his careful methodology, and his user-friendly style promise to make this volume an enduring standard for years to come.

Awards and Recognitions
The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) by R. T. France has received the following awards and recognitions -

  • Book of the Year - 2008 Winner - Reference Boty category

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   1169
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 2.25" Width: 6.25" Height: 9"
Weight:   3.85 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 11, 2007
Edition  Student/Stdy Gde  
Series  New International Commentary On   
ISBN  080282501X  
ISBN13  9780802825018  

Availability  0 units.

More About R. T. France

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! R. T. France (PhD, Tyndale Hall) was a New Testament scholar and served as a senior lecturer at London Bible College; principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University; and honorary research fellow at Bangor University. He was the author or editor of many books, including the New Bible Commentary, the commentary on Matthew in the New International Commentary on the New Testament, and the commentary on Mark in the New International Greek New Testament Commentary.


Mark L. Strauss (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego. He is the author or editor of many books and articles, including How to Read the Bible in Changing Times and Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels.

John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including A Survey of the Old Testament, Old Testament Today, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.

R. T. France currently resides in Hereford.

R. T. France has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Jesus Library

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament)?

Clear and Comprehensive  Mar 19, 2010
Other reviewers have gone in to considerable detail, and I can whole-heartedly concur with all of the the 5-star reviews. Read them for a balanced synopsis of France's approach. Eerdmans has done an excellent job in the NICNT series, and France's contribution on Matthew is equal to Romans (Moo) and Revelation (Beale).

The scholarly depth and support for this particular work is incredible - 35 page Bibliography, 9 page modern author's index, subject index (including foot note discussions), and 35 page index of Biblical and ancient writings allow France's work to be easily investigated and pursued. The author gives a very good rendering of Matthew's style, making it enjoyable to read with linguistic and literary insight. His comparisons to the other Gospel accounts and the Old Testament quotations in Matthew make it a useful commentary on those passages as well. As another reviewer commented, his summaries are particularly well done - thorough, but not overly-detailed. Of all my commentaries on the gospels, I find myself repeatedly returning to France's work. Well done.
Good summaries, good details  Oct 26, 2008
I am using this commentary for a seminary class on the book of Matthew and our professor is having us read the summaries of each section. These summaries are easy to read yet they cover the main points and introduce scholarly debate on certain passages. When I have continued on to read the line-by-line commentary, I have appreciated the author's balanced analysis. France looks at the big picture of the narrative, considering wider themes in the book of Matthew and exploring Matthew's choice to emphasize Jesus' fulfillment of Old Testament themes and specific prophecies.
The new starting place for Matthew studies in English  Jan 31, 2008
I finished working through this commentary a few days ago and it is probably the finest commentary I have ever read. R.T. France here joins lucidity - and the occasional pastoral insight - to the fruit of a long career of Matthean scholarship, and the result is a book that can be read profitably from cover to cover and not just reserved for reference.

FRANCE'S APPROACH is to comment primarily on the text in its canonical form. Comparisons to the other Synoptics are made especially when differences throw significant light on Matthew's distinctive contributions. France tends to reserve his direct engagement with other scholars for the footnotes, which is an outgrowth of his strategy to write a commentary on Matthew rather than a kind of tedious commentary on commentaries.

THE INTRODUCTION is relatively brief (just 22 pages) and readers are referred to his earlier work "Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher" for extended discussion of issues such as authorship and distinctive Matthean themes. In the present work France prefers to discuss issues as they arise naturally ad loc. As it turns out, France is of the opinion that this Gospel was written prior to 70 AD and therefore within 40 years of the events it narrates.

This is the place where CRITICISM is usually leveled to show, among other things, that the reviewer was paying attention. France is quite well versed in the OT/Hebrew Bible, but even so I believe more could have been done with the OT background. And certainly in places more could have been said, for example on the significance of John's baptism or Jesus' cleansing of the temple. For the temptation account (Matthew 4), France provides an extended discussion on its possible significance, but in the end he seems to waver and cannot finally decide where to come down. Finally, at 22:30 France wants to identify "in the resurrection" with "in heaven," which seems to me a lapse.

Regarding ESCHATOLOGY, France provides an illuminating discussion of Jesus as the Son of Man at 8:20 and 10:23. Frances' view of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 is particularly important in that he brackets 24:29-35 with what comes before it (on the destruction of the temple) rather than what comes after it (on the Parousia). His discussion here is quite careful and I think many will find it persuasive.

After more than 1000 packed pages, France leaves his readers wanting to continue exploring this magnificent Gospel. That is an achievement in itself!
Worth the Wait!  Jan 22, 2008
The long awaited volume on Matthew in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) has finally arrived. This venerable commentary series was launched over a half century ago under the editorship of Ned Stonehouse (1947-1962), followed by that of F.F. Bruce (1962-1990), and is (hopefully) being brought to completion under Gordon Fee (1990 -). The series was launched with a team of international scholars sympathetic to the Reformed faith from the U.K., the U.S., South Africa, and the Netherlands. The commentary series has been around long enough for some of the original volumes to be replaced (e.g., Luke and Romans) and for revisions by the author of some of the originals (e.g., John and Acts).

In light of the long history of the NICNT, one may wonder why it took so long for the Matthew volume to see the light of day. From an examination of old dust covers, one can see that the Gospel of Matthew was originally assigned to Stonehouse, but his untimely death caused it to be switched to Robert Guelich. For some reason, it was then assigned to Herman Ridderbos who for whatever reason did not complete it either. In his preface to this volume, editor Gordon Fee tells us that during his tenure since 1990 he had contracts for the Matthew volume returned to him by two "very capable" younger scholars. Finally, Fee says that one day he asked a fellow member of the Committee on Bible Translation (NIV/TNIV), Dick France, if he would take the commentary project, and what we have before us is the result.

For those familiar with Gospel studies, France is no stranger, having written a smaller commentary on Matthew for the Tyndale NT series, a separate book on Matthew's teaching, and a commentary on Mark in the NICGT series. France has also contributed a number of scholarly articles on Matthew, Jesus, and the Synoptics. No one seems more qualified to step into the gap at this point, and France does not disappoint with this volume.

Sadly, most commentaries from scholars of this caliber end up being a series of technical word studies somehow strung together, or they become a commentary on other commentaries, or they suffer from the unholy union of both those characteristics. France avoids both the pedantry of the first method (the one totally word based) and the endless lists of different interpretations characteristic of the second method (those who comment on other commentaries). He does this with constant attention in every individual pericope to how this section fits into the larger section in which it appears and how all of this fits into Matthew's larger strategy. He avoids the danger of simply providing a digest of others' interpretations by referencing other authors in the footnotes and majoring on telling us what he believes Matthew is saying. No one can accuse him of being unaware of scholarly opinion on Matthew. For example, his Bibliography of books, commentaries, and journal articles covers thirty five pages! He interacts with other views but majors on a fresh interpretation of the text.

Another refreshing aspect of France's treatment is that he places his emphasis on discovering what the canonical text of Matthew is actually saying to us. He does not follow those endless bypaths of source and redaction critics which mar many of the modern commentaries on Matthew. One thinks of the otherwise magisterial work of Davies and Allison, filled with insights both exegetical and theological, only to be marred by statements that this or that word/phrase in the text is certainly the work of a redactor. How can we be assured of that when no text of Matthew indicates such redaction? France tells us what the text means and does not get bogged down on questions like whether this verse was in Q or M, or if it is the result of a final redaction of those two or more sources. This also makes the commentary a much more valuable help for the preacher and teacher of Matthew.

France explains briefly the two dominant views about the structure of Matthew's gospel (2, 3). The first is the fivefold division based on the repeated statement, "And Jesus finished the sayings," (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). The second is the three-fold division base on the repetition of "From that time Jesus began to . . ." (47; 16:21). He opts for seeing the similar way in which Matthew follows a geographical procession of Jesus, as is in Mark. Thus he suggests the following overall outline. I. Introducing the Messiah (1:1-4:11); II. Galilee: The Messiah Revealed in Word and Deed (4:12-16:20); III. From Galilee to Jerusalem: Messiah and His Followers Prepare for the Confrontatio0n (16:21-20:34). IV. Jerusalem: The Messiah in Confrontation with the Religious Authorities (21:1-25:46); V. Jerusalem: Messiah Rejected, Killed, and Vindicated (26:1-28:15); VI. Galilee: The Messianic Mission is Launched (28:16-20. Thus, to France, semantic content trumps literary features in determining a book's structure.

Whether or not France is on target in his overall design of Matthew, he is at his best when he is interpreting an individual pericope or even a set of related pericopes. For example, he displays his very capable interpretive skills in his deft handling of the five pericopes in the Matthew nativity account (1:18-2:23). He recognizes the controversial way in which Matthew employs the OT quotations there and arrives at very satisfying conclusions which maintain the hermeneutical sanity of Matthew over against his modern detractors and critics. At this point one might wish to explain specifically how he does that, but due to space constraints I leave that delight to be discovered by the reader, who I am sure will not be disappointed by France's insightful method and his conclusions.

It is my judgment that this commentary should take its place among the best that have been written on Matthew. Will it dislodge the commentaries by Davies/Allison and Luz that are at the top of scholarly commentaries on Matthew? Probably not. Does it compare favorably with the evangelical classics by Carson and Hagner? Much in every way! But it should be one of the first that we open to find out not only what is being said about Matthew, but to find out what Matthew is actually saying!
A must have for Matthean studies  Jan 7, 2008
As a pastor who works through books of the bible for exegetical sermons, I find this commentary is not a disappointment. He does deal with the Greek text (which I love), so if you don't read Greek, you will find transliterated Greek mixed into the comments. Actual Greek fonts are used in the footnotes.

His summaries of views are succinct, with detail in some cases, but not too much information in trivial issues. I find this commentary gives a lot of exegetical insight to complement your own translation/exegetical efforts.

For example, France gives insights into John the Baptist in his section on Matthew 3. Although his cultural background insights do not rival Craig Keener's (get his commentary on Matthew too), his handling of how to interpret phrases and words is a direct aid to exegesis.

France gives insights from Qumran and Jewish inter-testamental literature as well as from pagan sources on the literary forms as well as structures within those forms. This commentary is very helpful, with a rapid fire of interesting ideas in condensed form for each section I have studied. It has quickly become my commentary of choice for Matthew.

Let me illustrate:

Matthew 5 is introduced with an overview on the Sermon on the Mount. He calls it a discourse on discipleship instead of the sermon on the mount. He says it reveals the Messiahs authority. As he gives a survey of the chapters, he then begins into chapter 5 little by little. As he starts into the Beattitudes, his little section on Makarios is indicative of the commentary so let me give a little of this for you to see what I mean.

He titles it "The Meaning of Makarios". Makarios is the transliteration of the Greek word that is often translated 'Blessed' or 'Happy'. France gives the Hebrew equivalent 'asre'. He points out that the Hebrew barak is not used, and that 'barak' is normally translated as blessed. As he digs into this term, it becomes clear that there is no English word that equivocates 'Makarios' and so he lands on 'Happy' without the psychological sense of feeling good. It means to be brought to a good place in some cases. The whole page of information is accurate, condensed with good, usable information AND helps the Non Greek /Non-Hebrew reader catch on to the issue with this crucial word in perhaps the most famous part of Matthew. When he is done with this, he then moves on to the structure of the beatitudes and does similar things. Then he compares Matthew's beatitudes to Luke's. Then he gives the OT background elements for the beatitudes. He adds to that the Eschatological Character of the Promises. Each of these is only about 3/4 of a page of information. But if you are preaching on the beatitudes, it is worth reading through to sharpen your mind on the setting and language issues involved with them.
Dr. France is to be congratulated for giving the Christian community a wonderful tool for preaching and teaching the gospel of Matthew.

I heartily recommend this commentary for Matthew study, research and preaching. Check out Keener on Matthew as well. It's a different kind of commentary, and is extremely useful as well.

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