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Oct. 1973–Jan. 1974 · Vol. 2 No. 4 · pp. 158–59 

Book Review

New Testament Commentary, Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew

William Hendricksen. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973. 1015 pages.

Reviewed by D. Edmond Hiebert

This latest volume (the eighth) in this growing one-man New Testament Commentary adds further laurels to the achievements of Dr. Hendriksen as an accomplished conservative scholar and interpreter. Ten pages of bibliography bear witness to his wide acquaintance with the pertinent literature.

The first hundred pages of this massive volume are devoted to introductions: a 70 page treatment of the Synoptic Gospels and the Synoptic Problem, and a 20 page introduction to Matthew (date A.D. 63-66). Hendriksen takes a firm conservative stance on critical problems. He vigorously defends the reliability of our Gospels and in doing so gives a valuable up-to-date historical sketch of the development of the critical views concerning the Gospels (pp. 57-76). He accepts Marcan priority (pp. 36-46), but is favorable to the idea that Matthew, as a man who had been trained to write reports, may well have taken notes of the words and works of Jesus and that his notes were a source for the Synoptics.

Hendriksen states the general theme of Matthew as “The Work Which Thou Gavest Him To Do” and divides the Gospel into three major divisions: Its beginning or Inauguration (1:1-4:11); Its Progress or Continuation (4:12-20:34); Its Climax or Culmination (21:1-28:20). These larger divisions are broken down into logical smaller units. {159}

The printed commentary helpfully observes the canonical chapter divisions, but the material is treated in its natural units. The author’s own translation is printed at the head of each unit and the commentary follows verse by verse. The author is a master of the Greek but the text of his commentary is not cumbered with a lot of technical matters and is well adapted to the average Bible student. A summary of the contents appears at the end of each chapter. The various footnotes occasionally deal with Greek words but usually give biographical information or further comments on the matter under discussion.

The eschatological stance of Hendriksen is amillenial. He insists that Matthew 24 cannot be explained as having its complete fulfilment in the events of A.D. 70 but holds that due to prophetic foreshortening that event is blended with the teaching concerning the eschatological return of Christ, but that the two are so intertwined that it is difficult accurately to separate the two. He refuses to equate “the great tribulation” in Matthew 24:21 with “the great tribulation” in Revelation 7:14. He holds that the “new heaven and earth,” which will immediately follow the return of Christ, will be brought about by a great cleansing conflagration and a rejuvenation, not complete destruction, of the universe.

The price of this volume may look formidable but the purchaser will discover that its procurement is a permanent investment for Bible study.

D. Edmond Hiebert
MB Biblical Seminary

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