Repent Ye, For The Kingdome Of Heaven Is At Hand: Henry Hammond’s Commentary And Sermon On Matthew 3:2 -- By: Matthew Lanser

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 75:2 (Fall 2013)
Article: Repent Ye, For The Kingdome Of Heaven Is At Hand: Henry Hammond’s Commentary And Sermon On Matthew 3:2
Author: Matthew Lanser


Repent Ye, For The Kingdome Of Heaven Is At Hand: Henry Hammond’s Commentary And Sermon
On Matthew 3:2

Matthew Lanser

Matthew Lanser is a Th.M. student in the history of Christianity at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Introduction

In the traditional scholarly portrayal, the seventeenth century was a dark period for biblical commentary, a time in which dogmatic concerns and quests for proof-texts trumped attention to the Scriptural texts themselves.1 Those scholars who did look at seventeenth-century exegetes tended to downplay orthodox interpreters and give more space to heterodox authors such as Hugo Grotius and Richard Simon, who were portrayed as more neatly exemplifying preferred modern interpretive methods.2 In a similar but more specific move, de Jonge and van Rooden indicated that the commentaries of the time focused either exclusively upon historical, philological, and textual concerns (thereby foreshadowing more modern approaches) or just upon dogmatic, ahistorical theological concerns.3 A more recent movement, led especially by Muller, has strongly critiqued this older, dogmatic view. This newer scholarship has portrayed the seventeenth century as a time in which commentators were quite sensitive to historical and philological concerns and paid close attention to the texts in their interpretation of the Bible. This view also considerably nuanced the basic typology of philological and theological commentaries

standing over against each other and suggested some continuity between the varied interpretive methods of the seventeenth century and those of older periods.4 This rehabilitation of the interpretive efforts of the seventeenth century has led to more attention being paid to specific commentators of the time, especially those standing within the stream of Reformed orthodoxy.5 However, given the quantity and quality of commentators of the seventeenth century, the field has much ground yet to be tilled. In particular, very little has been done to explore the work of Henry Hammond, who was both a significant biblical commentator and a well-respected Anglican churchman and preacher in the mid-seventeenth century. In light of this lacuna in scholarship of the era, this study will seek to contribute to the broader discussion of seventeenth-century interpretation by examining Hammond’s method and message in his commentary on Matt 3:2.

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