Prepare for Christmas with a Free Commentary on Matthew

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It’s barely November, but already stores are stocking Christmas decorations and carols are playing on the radio. It all feels a bit early—but if you’re preparing sermons, lessons, or papers based on Christmas passages, now is the time to prepare. That’s why we’ve partnered with Fortress Press to offer Matthew 1–7 from the Heremeneia Commentary Series totally free this month. When you add Matthew 8-20 for only $1.99, you’ll gain insights from the book of Matthew as a whole, not just the birth narrative.  Get both now.

Discover the story of Jesus’ life

Early on in the commentary, author Ulrich Luz introduces his working hypothesis:

The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ activity in Israel. He, the Messiah of his people, who teaches them and heals them (4:23–9:35*), is opposed by Israel’s leaders, among whom the Pharisees are the most important.

It is important to see the birth narrative in this light. Even before Jesus was born, he was actively opposed by Israel’s leader, specifically Herod the king. In this way, we see that the birth narrative is not a separate account in the larger story of Messiah, but it actually sets the stage for Israel’s leaders to reject him, even unto death.

Luz deals with another important element in his introduction, the assumed reader of Matthew. While the Christmas story is familiar to us, the first-century audience heard the story for the first time. Luz describes what the average first-century reader would have been like.

Literate—that is, he can read, or at least hear, a longer story. He has a good memory that makes it possible for him to remember and to make fruitful macrotextual connections. He has a good knowledge of the Bible and is also able to understand allusions to Bible texts not cited as quotations (e.g., 1:21; 7:23; 9:13; 27:24–25). He knows the history of Israel in its entirety (1:2–17). He is a member of the Christian community and familiar with the Jesus traditions so that sometimes Matthew can simply abbreviate them (e.g., 9:2–8). He may, but does not have to, be familiar with the Gospel of Mark. He participates in Christian worship. He is ready to acknowledge Jesus as his Lord and to let himself be determined and led by his words. He has a Jewish ‘encyclopedia’ and reads or hears the texts against the background of an understanding of terms and motifs influenced by the Greek Bible. He is familiar with Jewish halakot, customs, and institutions but is willing to criticize them.

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Get Matthew 1-7  free this month only. Then, add Matthew 8-20 for only $1.99 more. This is part two of the three volume set that contains Ulrich Luz’s finest work on Matthew’s gospel. Get both now.