Review: Matthew (EGGNT)

32611775Charles L. Quarles professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology and Director of PhD studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Quarles received his PhD from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and has authored several books, including The Sermon on the Mount: Restorin Chist’s Message to the Modern Church (B&H Academic, 2011), The Illustrated Life of Paul (B&H Academic, 2014), and co-authored The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (with Andreas J. Köstenberger and L. Scott Kellum; B&H Academic, 2016). Most recently, Quarles has contributed a phenomenal  volume on the Gospel of Matthew to the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) series.

Quarles’ volume on Matthew, much like the other EGGNT volumes, is structured to optimize the reader’s understanding of the Greek text and facilitate a deeper recognition of the various lexical and grammatical nuances therein. Quarles begins with a brief introduction, only about 8 pages of actual content. Quarles contends for traditional Matthean authorship and dates the Gospel in the 60’s. Furthermore, Quarles doesn’t take sides concerning the compositional language (Hebrew or Greek) of the Gospel, but instead presents the evidence for both and acknowledges the inability to establish firm conclusions. Those looking for more detailed introductory discussions will need to look elsewhere, but the information Quarles provides is enough to send the reader in the right direction.

The organization of the commentary section has skillfully utilized a similar format and layout as the other volumes on the Gospels in the EGGNT series. Some accommodation has been made given the narratival nature of the gospels themselves, as opposed to the shorter coherence of the epistles. For example, the reader is not going to find as much sentence diagraming in this volume as the other volumes, and the layout centers around as verse-level exposition as opposed to the clause-level in the other volumes. I found this to be somewhat of a disappointment because of the helpfulness of the clause-level interaction for the task of exegesis, but it is understandable given the genre at hand. That said, I think the reader will find that the verse-by-verse discussion is executed extremely well, and Quarles successfully guides the reader through Matthew with a fine-tooth exegetical comb. Each major unit of text concludes with a “For Further Study” section that takes various themes unearthed in the section and provides the reader with a bibliography for additional investigation, and Quarles does well to offer recommended preaching outlines that allow the reader to work from the text to the sermon.

Quarles offers much to be praised about in this volume. First, and probably foremost, Quarles is well-acquainted with Matthew and his sensitivity to the broader academic conversation regarding textual issues and grammatical debate is noticeable throughout. Second, I found Quarles to be extremely thoughtful in his explanation of difficult concepts and major themes in Matthew. He is not only sensitive to the larger academic conversation, but he is keenly aware of the biblical-theological voice found therein. Quarles steers away from theological speculation and remains focused on the task of the volume. Third, Quarles knows his primary audience and knows that a variegated knowledge of the Greek language is likely present among the readers. This is a clear benefit for the pastors or students who are less frequently working out of the Greek text but have some formal training or exposure. Lastly, the sheer scope of this volume’s content is impressive given its smaller size. Quarles has packed a lot of relevant and useful information into a small package. Pair this volume with any of the recommended commentaries (see p. 10-11) and you will be well-equipped to preach or teach through Matthew with understanding.

Matthew: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament by Charles L. Quarles is a welcomed and worthy addition to an already tremendous series. As a leading Matthean scholar, Quarels’ contribution to the EGGNT series fits extremely well alongside the quality and caliber that the series has already produced, and any serious student would be ill-equipped without it. If you have been looking for a resource that will guide you through the depths of the Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew, then look no further, because this will continually be your first go-to stop on that journey.

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