Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sources for Gospel of Matthew Bible Study

The last time we looked at the Gospel of Matthew together it was 2008!

So we're way past time to take a second look at some of the things that bring Matthew alive for me. Here are my favorite resources. I may not quote all of these, but I'll have looked through them and over the years they have added to my overall knowledge.

Simone Cantarini , St. Matthew and the Angel
The Navarre Bible: Pentateuch
The Navarre commentaries are consistently excellent and have a lot of thoughts from Church Fathers, Popes, saints, and the Catechism. They add wisdom from the 2,000 years of Church contemplation on scripture since Jesus.

Life Application Study Bible: New International Version
This Protestant Bible is an interesting resource. The footnotes are fresh, interesting, and a good resource for historical questions such as how threshing was done when Ruth met Boaz for example. They also have maps and occasional one page essays about main figures of the Bible. There is a tendency to ask questions at the end of commentary such as, "Do you listen to God like this person, etc.?" which I find rather annoying but they may not strike everyone that way. I would advise the NIV version as I have been told that translation is more accurate than the New Living Translation.

Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: The Gospel of Matthew
The structure is such that you are generally covering just a little scripture at a time. Each reading is followed with cross references to the Old Testament, New Testament, Catechism, and Liturgy. These are followed by the commentary, in which words from the scripture reading are bold whenever they are used. Although I saw some people complaining about that practice, I found it useful. Sometimes a bold word would make me suddenly pay attention and go back to the scripture, thinking, "Did it really say that? Why haven't I ever noticed before?"

There are also a few maps, occasional photos when they'd be helpful, and sidebar boxes with Biblical background and living tradition (Catechism, Fathers of the Church, saints) information that enriches understanding.

In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez
A daily devotional that follows the daily Mass readings. Topics range from the sacraments and virtues to family interaction and friendship. The sensible and down-to-earth writing is enhanced by quotes from saints, Church Fathers, popes, cross-references with other scripture than in the day's readings, Church documents, etc. I've been using this for 20 years off and on.  Full review here.

The Word on Fire Bible: The Gospels
From the Word on Fire ministries headed by Bishop Robert Barron, this is a commentary bible loaded with observations from the Church Fathers, newer Catholic writers like Fulton Sheen and G.K. Chesterton, and Bishop Barron himself. The primary purpose is evangelization of those not affiliated with organization or Christianity and poses the question throughout of "Who is God? and "Who is Jesus Christ?"

Opening the Scripture series: Bringing the Gospel of Matthew to Life
This is the one that I used for my first Gospel of Matthew series of posts, way back in 2008. It's still good. Read my full review here.

Ignatius Matthew Study Bible
This has since been gathered into the Ignatius Study New Testament by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. I already had it in this individual little book. The commentary is excellent, as one would expect.

Word Among Us
Available in print or digital format, this monthly magazine has the daily Mass readings with a little commentary. There are also a few articles covering the monthly theme.

The Daily Study Bible Series — The Gospel of Matthew, Revised Edition
I'm a real fan of William Barclay's commentaries on the New Testament books. Barclay's strengths are his phenomenal knowledge of the Greek language, the Jewish culture and religion, and the Roman occupation during the New Testament era. He is wonderful at conveying this knowledge in a way that simple and easily understandable. He puts it in context so that you can understand what events meant to the people to whom Jesus spoke to 2,000 years ago.

However, I have to always include this caveat when mentioning William Barclay ... his theology can be very wonky if you are Catholic. For example, his commentary on the gospels with nativity stories include a number of reasons Jesus' virgin birth didn't necessarily have to be virgin. Sorry. That's really nonnegotiable. He also often includes pointed commentary about why Roman Catholic teachings are wrong. So there's that ...

But if one reads with a knowledgeable eye, Barclay's work is really wonderful.

NOTE: the recently revised versions (1990s and beyond) have been heavily edited to be more politically correct. I'm not sure what that has done to Barclay's original work so I just go with the second revision, done under Barclay's eye. I'm not so thin skinned that I can't stand a little old fashionedness.

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