Gundry On Matthew: A Critical Review -- By: D. A. Carson

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 03:1 (Spring 1982)
Article: Gundry On Matthew: A Critical Review
Author: D. A. Carson


Gundry On Matthew: A Critical Review

D. A. Carson

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art, by Robert H. Gundry. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981. 652 pp. Cloth, $22.95.

The publication in English of any commentary on the Greek text of Matthew must be heralded as a major event, if only because no gospel has been so poorly served in recent times as this one. That such a commentary should come from a scholar who has devoted many of his energies to this first book of the New Testament (I am thinking in particular of his The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthews Gospel [Leiden: Brill, 1967]) can only increase the reader’s anticipation. It turns out to be no ordinary commentary; and if it is to be fairly evaluated, its unique features and emphases must first be fully appreciated.

All commentaries, Gundry tells us, “fall into two classes: (1)heavily documented commentaries that include a great deal of interplay with views expressed in other works of modern scholarship, and (2) commentaries in which the author fully develops his own line of interpretation” (p. 1). Gundry deliberately chooses the latter course. He begins with a brief introduction (pp. 1-11), given over to explaining the nature of his commentary, outlining some of the theology he discovers in Matthew, and defending the view that the structure of Matthew is sufficiently mixed, not to say amorphous, that very little can be built on it. Moreover, if Matthew follows Mark more closely in the last half of the Gospel than in the first half, it is because “editorial fatigue set in” (p. 10). The bulk of the book (pp. 13-597) is “The Commentary Proper,” as Gundry calls it. This is followed by three important sections. The first outlines “Some Higher-Critical Conclusions” (pp. 599-622), touching on such matters as the date, authorship, provenance and literary form of the first gospel. This essay includes a competent discussion of the evidence of Papias. Gundry concludes that the gospel was written by the apostle Matthew, at a fairly early date-before about A.D. 63, since Gundry holds that Luke depends on Matthew, and that Luke-Acts was completed by that date. The next section is titled “A Theological Postscript” (pp. 623-640), and constitutes Gundry’s defense of his understanding of Matthew’s use of midrash as a literary genre, within the context of a high view of Scripture.

The last section (pp. 641ff.) comprises the indexes; but the first of these, the Greek index, has some features found in no other commentary. Each Greek

word listed is immediately followed by six digits: e.g.

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