Matthew, Disciple and Scribe:  The First Gospel and Its Portrait of Jesus

By Patrick Schreiner (Baker Academic Books; 2019)

Matthew, Disciple and Scribe, is written by Patrick Schreiner, who happens to be the son of well-known exegete and author Thomas Schreiner, but this book is very much Patrick’s alone.  The theme and goal of the book is to persuade the reader that the author of this first Gospel (whether it was actually the disciple Matthew mentioned in the other Gospels), serves in the role of a Jewish scribe rather than in a role of more of a historian as say Luke was.  As such, the book is not a commentary on Matthew’s Gospel, but more of a biblical theology and literary examination of how and why the book is told as it is.

Schreiner’s chief concern is to show that Matthew functioned in the true sense of a Jewish scribe in his Gospel, as a true scribe is one who expounds and expands and applies the meanings of older scriptural texts to a contemporary audience.  Since Jesus himself went to pains both before the Cross and after His resurrection to explain how He uniquely fills the scriptures of the Old Testament, Matthew carries this on in his arrangement of the gospel story.  This is why Matthew has more extended teaching delivered by Jesus than any of the other Gospels.  In Part 1 of the book, Schreiner describes the role and function of the scribe in Jewish society, and then gives examples of how Matthew frames his writings in the style that would have been used of a scribe teaching on the sayings and life of Moses.

In Part 2, the author then fleshes out how Matthew presents Jesus as the true and coming messianic king like David, while not playing down the parallels between Moses and Jesus, and also reminding readers of Jesus’ affiliation with Abraham.  All this together is to leave the readers in the first century with the distinct understanding that Jesus was indeed David’s Son, the messianic king written about and prophesied in the Old Testament — despite the incorrect understandings and expectations of the majority of Jews at the time of Jesus’ ministry.

Again, since this book is not meant to give a passage-by-passage breakdown of the entire Gospel, Schreiner does an excellent job of casting the teachings and actions of Jesus in such a way that it would be practically impossible to see Jesus as the long-awaited King.  A worthy and valuable addition to NT studies and studies on Matthew’s Gospel in particular.


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