Studies in Matthew

Interpretation Past and Present

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The author of a leading major critical commentary on Matthew here offers further insights into the Gospel and the history of its interpretation. Writing with theological sensitivity and a deft literary touch, he presents thirteen essays--nine previously unpublished and four thoroughly revised--on key passages, on structural features of the Gospel, and on patristic and modern interpretation. Exegetes, preachers, students, and other lovers of biblical narrative will read Studies in Matthew with profit and delight.


"These erudite essays by one of the foremost Matthean scholars of our day show how illuminating it can be to consult the history of interpretation and, in particular, the patristic commentators when it comes to the exegesis of the Gospel of Matthew. We can find fresh insights and new understandings by looking back to how earlier interpreters dealt with the material. These stimulating essays provide abundant hermeneutical insights into the interpretive process itself--all under the wise and mature judgment of a seasoned exegete. This book is therefore not only for Matthean specialists but will prove rewarding for all who are interested in biblical interpretation."--Donald A. Hagner, George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Dale Allison has been widely recognized as a leading interpreter of the Gospel of Matthew since the completion of the International Critical Commentary in 1997, and with the publication of Studies in Matthew he establishes and enhances his eminence. Colleagues and knowledgeable readers will be informed by his erudition and impressed by his selective appropriation of the insights of predecessors from the nineteenth century back through the patristic period. He is also sensitive to the importance and breadth of historical issues, as well as matters of theological relevance. Although Allison is obviously not writing for beginners, his style is clear and accessible, so that one is never left wondering what he is thinking."--D. Moody Smith, George Washington Ivey Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Duke University

"Dale Allison, author of the finest English commentary on Matthew, here supplements that monumental work with thirteen studies on the Gospel, marked throughout by the same patient, perceptive scholarship. In part one he shows--in at times surprising ways--why contemporary interpreters cannot afford to neglect the exegetical past. Part two reminds us why his own are among the shoulders on which subsequent interpreters of Matthew must stand. This will make rewarding reading for all students of the Gospel."--Stephen Westerholm, professor of early Christian studies, McMaster University

"Dale Allison is the premier Matthew specialist of his generation in the United States. He is endowed with an amazing erudition that embraces not only the professional literature of the last two centuries but also the tradition of interpretation of the ancient and medieval church, East and West. This gift is richly in evidence in this new collection of mostly unpublished essays, including several reflecting a particular interest in the opening and closing chapters of Matthew--infancy, Sermon on the Mount, passion. Allison writes with the head of a scholar but also with the heart of a believer who wrestles with pain and loss, violence and murder. His struggle is illumined by Scripture and aware of the presence of angels."--Benedict T. Viviano, OP, professor of New Testament, University of Fribourg

"I have been telling friends for years that Dale Allison is North America's most complete New Testament scholar. This book proves it. Here Allison navigates not only the deep waters of the historical-critical method but also the refreshing pools suddenly being discovered among the patristics and Eastern Orthodox. Scholars and pastors will find something to ponder on each and every page. Just when I thought Dale had moved on to other topics, here he is again, setting the record straight about Matthew."--Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University

The Author

  1. Dale C. Allison Jr.

    Dale C. Allison Jr.

    Dale C. Allison Jr. (PhD, Duke University) is the Richard J. Dearborn Professor of New Testament Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary and is counted among the top Jesus scholars working today. He is the author of numerous books, including The...

    Continue reading about Dale C. Allison Jr.


"[Allison] is one of the foremost interpreters of Matthew's Gospel in the English-speaking world. He demonstrates his remarkable erudition and careful interpretive skills in this collection of essays. The book includes six new essays that not only examine detailed yet important features of Matthew's Gospel . . . but tracks their interpretation in subsequent Christian history. The remaining essays are thorough revisions of earlier articles. This is a work that will be warmly appreciated by serious students of the New Testament who want to explore in depth both Matthew's Gospel and the significance of ongoing interpretation."--Donald Senior, CP, Bible Today

"Provide[s] substantive discussions of exegetical history involving both giants like Chrysostom and lesser-known figures like Cosmas Indicopleustas. Allison's mastery extends also to Reformation and post-Reformation theologians and scholars as well as figures from other fields. . . . Allison's references are intrinsic to his arguments and often aid in subverting unhelpful interpretive assumptions. The results are fresh, compelling readings of selected Matthean texts. Further, Allison displays newfound postmodern interpretive sensibilities. . . . This wonderful collection is certainly worth the purchase price. . . . Allison [is] a brilliant, erudite scholar."--Leroy Andrew Huizenga, Journal of Biblical Literature

"Having spent the last few years studying the Gospel of Matthew, I have repeatedly found the writings of Dale Allison to be some of the most stimulating, fair-minded, and insightful works available. . . . His scholarship is marked by lucidity, erudition, and a refreshing even-handedness. The present volume is no exception. . . . Woven throughout all of the essays is a sensitive appreciation of the comments and insights of the history of interpretation and especially the Church fathers. . . . I thoroughly enjoyed this book and benefited greatly from it. It is so chock full of insights that one can rarely make it through a page without having to stop and jot down quotes and spin-off thoughts. . . . [Allison] has such a masterful grasp of the secondary literature, and more importantly, the text of Matthew, that his conclusions are never simplistic. Instead, when explaining complex and profound insights, he writes with a lucidity that comes only from having worked through the complexities to the point of simple and convincing elucidation. Beyond gaining insight into particular passages in Matthew, readers of this book will also learn much about how to read well, particularly as it relates to the reality of intertextuality and intratextuality. . . . We can all especially profit from Allison's model of learning to read Scripture with the Church fathers. . . . This is a volume to be read and owned. I plan not only to read it again but also to use it as a supplemental textbook in more than one class."--Jonathan T. Pennington, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"[Allison] presents a collection of essays on the Gospel of Matthew. One has high expectations, since Allison is one of the best American exegetes of his generation. Appropriately for a specialist in Matthew, Allison brings forth treasures new and old. For Allison, unlike many other biblical scholars, the new outweighs the old: all six essays in the first part, titled 'The Exegetical Past,' appear here for the first time. . . . The wealth of materials that Allison presents in his case studies from all periods, including the recent past, is superb: one repeatedly encounters rare observations in the history of interpretation and references that cannot be found anywhere else. . . . This collection is a treasure chest in which one encounters an endless abundance of sources in the history of religions and the history of interpretation that have not previously been utilized in scholarly discussion. The theses that the author builds on the basis of his material are for the most part plausible. The volume truly enriches Matthean studies."--Ulrich Luz, Theologische Literaturzeitung

"The discussions are interesting, the scholarly range impressive, and the arguments are carefully marshalled . . . by one of the cleverest Matthew scholars of our generation. The book will prove of enduring worth for those interested in the history of the interpretation of Matthew."--Peter M. Head, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Booklist

"[Allison] is known as one of the foremost modern authorities on the Gospel of Matthew; to that reputation he adds this volume on exegesis, literary and historical studies. . . . Allison's latest work is a timely reminder to scholars and laypersons alike to continually search the scriptures by way of the history of interpretation as well as translations of the various Hebrew and Greek texts. . . . This volume should be on every Matthean scholar's shelf, if not on her desk! The Index of Names and Scripture Index are thorough."--Glenna S. Jackson, HTS Theological Studies

"This collection of studies by Dale C. Allison is a superb example of Matthean scholarship and innovative interpretation. . . . This is a wonderful book, revealing an erudite biblical scholar at work, one whose exegetical judgments are full of common sense and whose sensitivities to the contours and meaning of Matthew's text are extraordinarily fruitful."--Donald Senior, CP, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"These essays . . . are richly rewarding fresh studies of key passages and topics. . . . These carefully crafted essays are packed with historical learning and theological insight. Allison is refreshingly cautious in his refusal to run beyond the evidence. Above all, he encourages his readers not merely to engage with the text of Matthew's Gospel at a distance but to appropriate it for oneself."--Graham N. Stanton, Review of Biblical Literature

"It can be said with confidence that Wirkungsgeschichte--usually rendered into English as 'reception history'--has become recognized as a legitimate and necessary part of biblical studies. . . . Studies in Matthew offers an excellent contribution to this field. Of course, those interested in Wirkungsgeschichte are not the only ones with cause to celebrate the publication of this fine volume of biblical exegesis. The large section of 'Literary and Historical Studies' (roughly the second half of the book) contains a series of articles combining--characteristically, for Allison--erudition and insight, exhaustive survey of scholarship and theological reflection. . . . For this reviewer, however, the main value of this book lies in its first part, entitled 'The Exegetical Past,' which contains five new studies illustrating the contribution of reception history to biblical scholarship and a concluding essay of methodological reflections. Allison typically sets the stage by laying out the exegetical problem . . . and presenting the current state of scholarship. At this point, commentaries are usually ready to move on. For Allison, however, this is only the beginning of a journey through the history of interpretation, in which the reader is presented with an exhaustive survey of the exegetical options proposed by interpreters along the centuries."--Bogdan G. Bucur, Review of Biblical Literature

"[The] essays [in part 1] are both fascinating and illuminating because they discuss how difficult exegetical questions arising from Matthean texts have been answered through the history of their interpretation. . . . [The essays in part two] offer fresh perspectives on other challenging topics in Matthean studies. . . . Though I do not necessarily agree with Allison on every conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone working in the Synoptic Gospels generally and Matthean studies specifically. Allison is a thorough scholar and a lucid writer. This book should appear in the bibliographies of future Matthean studies as a key reference."--James D. Dvorak, Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism