Reader Appeal: Pastors, Bible teachers

Genre: Commentary

FBSN Rating: B+

 

It seems strange that asking a theologian to write a Bible commentary would be considered, well, strange. But in the “academic silo” world we live in, the fact is that theologians don’t typically write commentaries. Professors of biblical studies write commentaries, while theologians write, um…whatever it is that theologians are supposed to write. For that reason, Westminster John Knox’s decision to publish a series of Bible commentaries written exclusively by theologians is a unique choice.

Anna Case-Winters tackled the theological commentary on the book of Matthew. Dr. Case-Winters is a professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary and an ordained Presbyterian minister. Her approach to the text is unique and interesting. Whether because it was written by a theologian, or because Dr. Case-Winters’ personality is reflected in her writing, the commentary segments in Matthew trend toward introspection and personal application. They are much more devotional in nature than one would expect, and perhaps (at least in part) that’s because this commentary tackles chunks of Scripture at a time rather than going verse by verse through Matthew’s gospel.

“This commentary meanders among layers of meaning,” Dr. Case-Winters says up front, and she’s telling the truth. Her meditative approach to the Scripture is the defining aspect of this book. Reading this commentary feels more like listening to someone else’s sermon than anything else. Her deep exploration of the Lord’s Prayer is an example of this, and though more devotional and sermonic than educational, it does make for an interesting perspective. Dr. Case-Winters also sprinkles in relevant quotes in callouts and adds occasional “Further Reflections” sections when she feels the need to “meander” a bit more extensively about a particular subject raised in the text.

For the pastor or Bible teacher who is mainly looking for facts to use in next Sunday’s sermon, this commentary will disappoint. But for the pastor or Bible teacher who is looking for stimulating discussion about specific texts in Matthew, Case-Winters’ commentary will add texture and insight. Be aware, though, that Matthew: A Theological Commentary on the Bible requires the reader to engage thoughtfully, and so may require more study time than expected from a typical Bible reference work.

 

Matthew: A Theological Commentary on the Bible by Anna Case-Winters

(Westminster John Knox Press)

 

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