All i Want for Christmas is my New Interpreter's Bible

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Sep 29 2011 8:56 PM

I realize it's way to early to be thinking about the upcoming holiday season, but I also know it will take some time to get the commentary out. And a good way to celebrate, the nativity would be to have this valuable resource I have found so soul nourishing to help me grow deep in God.It is almost to to the point of production. I know it is over priced since it has no pre pub discount (but the good thing about that is once it's developed we cancel our orders and get it on a payment plan with no penalization). This is the follow up work to the original Interpreter's Bible which was valued by many for decades. It still has basic exegises and exposition, now referred to as Commentary and Reflections, but now done by a single author. I will not claim this work is perfect, but for me it is the closet i have come to an ideal set and will never get rid of my hard back set. TO ALL CATHOLICS, this set have many fine catholic scholars who have been contributors, and also COVERS THE ENTIRE CATHOLIC CANON. For us protestants it gives us a valuable look into the literature of the time us Jesus in a similar, albeit narrower way to the dead sea scrolls off us insights. There are lots of fans of the Interpretation series out there enough to get it back to logos, and while I think it good, for the most part NIB seems better to me. When i have used both i usually come away from NIB more inspired.

Here is a peek at the end of Matthew 7 to give you an die of what is in it.

 

-dan

MATTHEW 7:13-27, Three Eschatological Warnings

MATTHEW 7:13-14, TWO WAYS

 

COMMENTARY

Matthew rewrites and amplifies the conclusion of the Great Sermon in Q to obtain another of his favorite triadic constructions.

The original saying presented two gates (Luke uses “doors”; which was original is not clear). Matthew (or perhaps his tradition) adds the 

 

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motif of the two ways (“roads”), a common motif in both pagan and Jewish tradition.179 The combination is somewhat awkward, causing confusion in the MSS as scribes attempted to make the imagery more consistent (the second “gate” in v. 13 is missing from many good MSS and, as the more difficult reading, is probably original; both the NRSV and the NIV follow the other MS tradition). It is thus not clear whether “gate” and “way” are two metaphors pointing to the same reality, or whether the “way” is thought of as leading up to the city “gate” or perhaps beginning with it. In either case, the narrow gate leads directly to salvation (for “life” as a metaphor for the kingdom of God and salvation, see 18:8; 19:16-17, 23-30; 25:46) and the wide gate to damnation. The “way” (“road”), in either case, is an ethicizing of the tradition. In Matthew’s theology, the Christian life is thought of not in static terms, as a condition or once-for-all decision, but as the path or road of righteous living between the initial call of the disciple and the final goal of salvation. Thus he repeatedly emphasizes that many are called but few are chosen (9:13; 20:16; 22:14). The “many” here are then not outsiders, unbelievers, or Jewish opponents, but insiders, Christians who begin to follow but have “fallen by the wayside.”

The “many” and “few” are not informational, but hortatory. They function not to give a doctrinal statement on how many will be saved, but to exhort and admonish lagging disciples of the urgency of decision, which must be made anew every day (12:30). Elsewhere, Matthew uses other imagery in which “many” are saved (8:11; 20:28). The initial warning sets the tone for the concluding section of the sermon, presenting Matthew’s characteristic dualism of decision. There are two and only two doors, ways, kinds of fruit, final destinies. 

MATTHEW 7:15-23, TWO HARVESTS (FALSE PROPHETS)

 

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COMMENTARY

Just prior to the conclusion, the Great Sermon in Q has a brief section declaring that a person’s words and deeds reveal the true self, just as the fruits of a tree reveal what kind of tree it is (cf. Luke 6:43-45). This Q theme (which also is expressed in Matt 3:7-10 = Luke 3:7b-9) had become very important to Matthew, and he uses it not only here and in 3:8, but also includes it in a fuller form in the key scene he composed as the climax of Part One (12:22-37). Here Matthew takes up this theme and restyles it into a direct warning to the disciples. The theme is important to him because (a) it fits his emphasis on deeds (rather than hearing/saying); (b) but the correct deeds alone are not adequate—they must represent the inward nature of the person doing them, otherwise they are hypocritical (6:1-18; 23:25-28); and (c) because it can be used as an image for both present identification of authentic discipleship (“know them by their fruits”) and the future eschatological judgment when the good harvest will be gathered in and bad trees will be burned (chaps. 18–19).

Verse 15 is the heading for the whole unit, announcing false prophecy as the subject, to which v. 22 returns, bracketing the whole section together around the theme of charismatic activity. The sermon here clearly becomes transparent to the post-Easter situation of Matthew’s church, which has charismatics among its leadership and membership. These are Christians who by the power of the Spirit speak the direct word of the exalted Lord (prophecy) and perform miracles (healings, exorcisms).

“False prophets” is not a code name for Pharisees, Zealots, or other opponents of the Matthean community, but refers to Christian prophets whom Matthew sees as dangerously misleading the church. These are would-be leaders within the community who appear innocent (“wolves in sheep’s clothing” [see v. 15]) and who say “Lord, Lord” (v. 22) to Jesus. Matthew affirms charismatic speech and miraculous deeds as the gifts of the exalted Lord to his church (10:41; 23:34). It is not prophecy as such that is suspect, but false prophets. What is Matthew’s objection? They do not produce Christian “fruit,” a common Matthean metaphor for true conversion, resulting in the kind of righteousness called for in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. 3:8-10; 12:33; 13:8, 26; 21:34, 41, 43). They do not do “the will of my [Jesus’] Father in heaven” (v. 21), but practice “lawlessness” (ajnomi"a anomia, 7:23; paraphrased as “evildoers” by the NRSV and the NIV). Jesus quotes Ps 6:9 as his eschatological verdict. As in 13:41, 23:28, 24:12, this is Matthew’s general word for unrighteousness, and it need not refer to some party or group advocating the abolition of the Mosaic law or to a Gnostic or Spirit-enthusiast group’s rejection of all external norms. For Matthew, lawlessness is a rejection or perversion of righteous living as expressed in the Law and the teaching of Jesus, and summed up in the love commandment (see 7:12; 22:40). Matthew thus connects the lawlessness of false prophets and the relaxing of Christian love (24:12). The point is that neither correct confession of Christian christological titles (“Lord, Lord”) nor the ability to perform spectacular miracles (which Matthew does not deny) will count in the final judgment, but whether one has done the will of God. This could be taken as works-righteousness, except for the fact that the warning is directed to disciples who confess their need of grace and forgiveness and pray for God’s will to be done.

The Sermon on the Mount is not christological teaching about Jesus, but about the way of life to which the disciples are called. Yet, the implicit christology of the passage should not be missed. Already in the beatitudes and the antitheses, Jesus has assumed an authority that belongs only to God or God’s unique representative. Here he pictures himself as acting in God’s place as the Last Judge who decides the ultimate destiny of those who call him “Lord.” One cannot flee from Paul to Jesus, nor from christology to the Sermon on the Mount. (See Reflections.)

 

 

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MATTHEW 7:24-27, TWO BUILDERS

COMMENTARY

The conclusion of the Great Sermon in Q is the double parable of the two builders (cf. Luke 6:47-49). Matthew has preserved the original form more closely, although also making redactional additions. The Matthean form is a splendid example of unadorned art, exquisitely symmetrical, the second half repeating the first almost verbatim. The power of the imagery is enhanced by the economy of words, the repeated short, unelaborated sentences having a staccato effect of hammer blows. The small changes in the second half of the parable bring into sharp profile the dualism of decision that has characterized the monitory conclusion since the “two ways” of 7:13:

 

wise/foolish 180

rock/sand

doing/not doing

not fall/fall

 

Luke 6:47-49 has adapted the parable to the building practices of a Hellenistic city, but Matthew’s version reflects the more original Palestinian situation where a house built during the dry season, when not a drop of rain falls in Palestine, seems secure until the fall storms come. Then the rain, wind, and floods that gush down the dry wadis overwhelm the house built on sand, while the house built on the rock stands secure. Although both builders seem to be getting along well in the present, only the one who has built with the coming storm in mind is secure. The difference between the “wise” (fro"nimov phronimos) and the “foolish” (mwro"v moros) builders is not a matter of intellect, but one of insight into the eschatological situation—i.e., whether they are willing to hear in Jesus’ words the revelation of God’s will, and to act on them. Interpreters should not decode the parable as though it were pure allegory; one should not ask what the rock, house, rain, wind, and flood “stand for.” Rather, a provocative picture is called to mind, showing the crucial difference between doing and not doing the will of God. The sermon knows of grace, but for it the grace of God is known only in that community committed to doing God’s will revealed in Jesus. There can be no calculating “cheap grace” that keeps one from taking the Sermon on the Mount seriously as the revealed will of God to be lived.181

There are similar stories in rabbinic tradition, which contrast simply knowing the Torah or wisdom with both knowing and doing. Once again we see the implicit christology of the 

 

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Sermon on the Mount: No titles are here applied to Jesus, but Jesus places his own person and teaching as the revelation of God’s will in place of the Torah.

Matthew 7:28-29, Conclusion of the Sermon

COMMENTARY

Here is the first of Matthew’s five concluding/transitional formulae that mark out the five key discourses (11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1; cf. Introduction). With his statement about Jesus’ authority and the response to his teaching, Matthew here briefly rejoins the Markan story line, which he had abandoned in order to insert the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mark 1:22, 27). Matthew omits Mark’s description of Jesus’ teaching as “new” (cf. 5:17-20), but by adding “their” to “scribes” (cf. 4:23; 9:35; 10:17; Introduction) distances Jesus from the Jewish leaders.

REFLECTIONS

The following reflections are informed by the Sermon on the Mount as a complete unit.

1. At the conclusion of the sermon the crowds reappear (see 5:1-2). The crowds are not opponents, but neither are they disciples. They represent the uncommitted potential disciples to whom Jesus appeals throughout the Gospel. Jesus’ teaching is not esoteric instruction for the initiated only. Although directed to disciples, it is “public” address that the uncommitted, potential disciples, represented by “the crowd,” can also overhear and act upon. Matthew here presents a model for the church’s missionary address to the world: The community of discipleship speaks its own language, makes its own confession, addresses its ethical demands to those who are committed to Jesus as the Christ and exalted Lord. Yet the church knows that it is not an esoteric group, but that it has responsibility to the world (28:18-20), so that even its “internal” talk is carried on with an awareness that the world is listening in. For Matthew, the line between church and world is not so sharp. This line not only runs through the community, to be made clear only at the eschaton (13:24-50), but through each person within the community as well. In addressing the difficult ethical issues of our own time, a church that takes Matthew’s model seriously will neither attempt to legislate public morality for people of all religions and none, nor will it withdraw into a sectarian community concerned only about the ethical life of its own members. The text encourages the church to work out its own ethic based on the presuppositions of its own faith, but to do so with an eye on the crowds that share its ethical concerns, even if they do not share its faith or consider it irrelevant. Such ethical concern and action is a mode of evangelism, a mode that can be taken seriously by the contemporary world.

2. The crowds are not merely impressed; they are amazed. The NIV’s “amazed”  

 

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(ejkplh"ssomai ekplessomai) is a strong word, almost “they were in shock.” They were “astounded” (NRSV) at Jesus’ authority. “Authority” (ejxousi"a exousia) is a key word in Matthew (cf. 8:9; 9:6, 8; 10:1; 21:23-27; 28:18). Etymologically, it connotes “out of one’s own being” and represents both the form and content of Jesus’ teaching. In contrast to the scribes, Jesus’ teaching was not an exposition of an external authority, written Torah or oral tradition. He placed himself over both tradition and Scripture as a direct spokesman for God. With his “I say unto you,” his authority transcends even that of the prophet’s “Thus says the Lord.” Matthew advocates a relocation of authority by virtue of the Christ-event. Jesus’ teaching with authority is not merely a matter of speaking with volume and confidence, not a matter of tone of voice, but of how God’s authority is mediated to us. The older configuration of book/tradition/persons who interpret them is replaced by one person. To be sure, the word of this person is now mediated to later generations by books/tradition/persons who interpret him. But the risen Christ continues in the process himself; the personal dimension is never reduced to book plus tradition. This corresponds to the combination of Jesus’ teaching, all authority, and personal presence in the climactic conclusion at 28:16-20.

3. For the first time since 5:2, the voice of the narrator reappears (7:28). For three chapters, the hearer/reader has heard only one voice, that of Jesus, without interruption, question, dialogue, or comment by the narrator. At the conclusion of the sermon, there is no vocal response; the disciples are silent. The response of the crowds is reported, but not their words. All attention focuses on the word of Jesus. The hearers/readers almost forget that they are hearing a “sermon” in a story, for the authoritative instruction has become transparent to their own situation, functioning as address rather than report. This literary technique allows the hearers/readers to be directly addressed, as the disciples in the narrative become transparent to the readers’ own post-Easter situation. This is one of the ways in which the continuing presence of Christ (18:20; 28:20) was experienced by the Matthean community and continues to be experienced by later readers.

4. Most of the church’s struggle with the Sermon on the Mount has been oriented to the question How can anyone actually live this way? A more fundamental issue, and one more engaged with the contemporary perspective on ethics and the Bible, is the question Why would anyone even want to try to live this way in the first place? Superficial answers are available: The Sermon on the Mount is just common sense, or it helps one be happy and successful, or it is the way to gain heaven and avoid hell. Such answers are not only unhelpful, but also they are not Matthean. Matthew relates the sermon inseparably to the Preacher, and relates ethics inseparably to christology. To be sure, there is no explicit christology in the Sermon on the Mount. The subject matter of the sermon is not the person of Christ but the kind of life Christ’s disciples are called to live. But the demands of the sermon are incomprehensible apart from the implicit christology found there (see 5:1-12, 17-20, 21-48; 7:21-27). One cannot avoid christology and appeal only to the teaching or great principles of Jesus, for these are inseparable from the claims of his person. But for Matthew the converse is also true: “Correct” christological understanding can never be a substitute for the kind of ethical living to which Jesus calls his disciples. Christology and ethics, like christology and discipleship, are inseparable for Matthew. 

5. The traditional title for this passage has been the “Sermon on the Mount” since Augustine so labeled it in the fifth century, but the content represents Jesus’ teaching more than his preaching, his didache rather than his kerygma. Matthew does not call it a sermon, but Jesus’ “teaching” (5:2; 7:28-29). The core of the Matthean proclamation, shared by John the Baptist and Jesus’ disciples, is the coming of the kingdom of God and the human response of repentance (3:1; 4:17, 23; 9:35; 10:7; 24:14; 26:13). Yet neither of these themes is found in the Sermon on the Mount. It is not directed to the general public, but presupposes the community of 

 

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disciples who have already responded in faith to Jesus’ preaching, who pray to God as Father and relate to each other as brothers and sisters. Unless this kerygmatic foundation is presupposed, one should be cautious in referring to it as a summary of Jesus’ message.

6.  Matthew’s christological convictions are not communicated in essay form, but are inseparable from the narrative he has composed. The sermon is to be interpreted as part of the Matthean narrative, a speech made by the main character within the story Matthew has carefully constructed. The statements of the Sermon on the Mount are not general moral principles or advice of a religious genius or guru that can stand on their own. Both their meaning and their validity are derived from the story of what God has done in Jesus. Without the narrative context of the priority of grace, the sermon can be misunderstood synergistically as the ultimate legalism. Although it has many imperatives, the sermon is not a list of things we should do. As elsewhere in Matthew, the imperative of human response presupposes the indicative of God’s action.

7. It has not been easy for a church that takes this text seriously to come to terms with it. Throughout the centuries, the main contours of the church’s struggle to understand and obey its teaching may be classified under the headings of those to whom the church understood these instructions to be addressed and when these instructions were thought to apply. If it seems impossible that the sermon is intended to apply to everyone at all times, can its intention be better understood by limiting the persons or times to which it applies? This line of approach has resulted in the following categories of interpretation: 

The Sermon Applies to Everyone, or to All Christians, and to All Times. (a) The literature of early Christianity assumes that the precepts of the sermon applied to all Christians, and that they were simply to be done with common sense being the guide.182 Even after the “problem” with such precepts as literally turning the other cheek and giving away one’s property became sharper, there have been individuals such as Leo Tolstoy and groups such as the Anabaptists who believed the sermon was simply to be literally practiced—which often meant a withdrawal from ordinary society.183

(b) A second way of applying the sermon to everyone relies on non-literal idealistic interpretation. Jesus and Matthew are thought of as wholesome idealists who gave us goals that, even if we cannot literally reach them, provide us with direction for our ethical striving. The older Protestant liberalism tended in this direction, reducing the sermon to principles and attitudes that should influence our practice. The center of the sermon became 6:1-18 as the key to the rest, and the purported legalism and externalism of “the Jews” became the foil for the “inner” ethic of Jesus.184

(c) Another approach, developed in the Lutheran tradition, applies the sermon to everyone in all times, but understands its function to be negative. In this tradition the sermon is understood to function as Law. Just as the Law was given to make us aware of our own inability to fulfill it and our need of God’s grace, so also the sermon was given as a praeparatio evangelica intended to reveal to us our own impotence and drive us to despair, to compel us to stop exerting ourselves in establishing our own righteousness. This very Pauline understanding can lead either to a perverted view of cheap grace, or to a christological interpretation in which Jesus is the one who, as the Second Adam, fulfills the Law.185

The Sermon Applies Only to Certain People. A second major approach comes to terms with the perceived difficulty of the sermon’s demands by arguing that it was not intended to 

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apply to everyone, as all the above approaches assume, but only to certain people. During the Middle Ages the view, typified by Thomas Aquinas, was developed that the precepts of the Christian faith apply to all Christians, but that the “counsels of perfection” are only for priests, monks, and nuns. This seems to have some support from Matthew’s own editing of Mark, where he adds to the Decalogue, required of all, the counsel “but if you would be perfect” (Matt. 19:21; cf. Mark 10:19). This need not be thought of as a compromise, but can represent the view that, if it is unrealistic to ask the majority to live strictly by the Sermon on the Mount, at least some should do so, not as a matter of self-righteousness or being better than others, but as a testimony to and embodiment of the will of God for all.

The Sermon Applies Only to Certain Times. A third major approach comes to terms with the sermon by arguing that it applies only at a certain time—i.e., that it is qualified eschatologically. There are three varieties of this view.

(a) The kind of dispensationalism popularized especially in America by C. I. Scofield’s Scofield Reference Bible argues that the Sermon on the Mount was not intended for Jesus’ hearers or for our own time, but is the kingdom ethic that will be practiced during the millennial kingdom, after the second coming of Christ.

(b) The rediscovery of eschatology in the teaching of Jesus was extremely important, for it had been discounted by Protestant liberalism.186 While “kingdom of God” had been a matter of “the heart” in liberalism, Johannes Weiss and Albert Schweitzer showed that in the synoptic Gospels, it has an eschatological meaning, and argued that Jesus expected the apocalyptic end of the world to come very soon and that his teaching was intended to be practiced literally, since it applied only to the brief period before the end (the “interim ethic”).

(c) Schweitzer’s view is not advocated by any New Testament scholar now, but his rediscovery of the eschatological aspect of gospel ethics became the foundation for developing a view that has been influential. In this view, eschatology allowed Jesus (and Matthew) to perceive and announce the unconditional will of God, valid for all times, not just as an emergency matter for the interim. The Matthean Jesus is understood as one who sees the world and life in the light of the dawning kingdom of God (future/present), and who can thus reveal the life God requires in this light, without qualifications. This approach takes the historical situation and historical-conditionedness of the sermon seriously, without making it a relic separate from our own time and our own decisions.187

Posts 3688
Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 29 2011 9:07 PM

I, too, would like this - but at $800 it will not be something I will be purchasing.   I already have the original Interpreters Bible, albeit in the Folio software promoted by Abingdon.  I'll live with that and forgo the newer version.  Sorry. 

Blessings,
Floyd

Pastor-Patrick.blogspot.com

Posts 10779
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 29 2011 9:22 PM

Here's the link (didn't see it above):

http://www.logos.com/product/8803/new-interpreters-bible

Interpreter's is definitely a good one.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

Posts 81
Jim Wait | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 30 2011 12:51 PM

This is absolutely my favorite commentary set. I will order it when available regardless of price!!  Thank God for Logos, NT Wright, Richard B Hays, M. E. Boring ( all authors in NIB)!!!

Posts 5285
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 30 2011 5:02 PM

Jim please don't wait but click on the above link and preorder it.. it will never be made if there are not enough pre orders...

 

-Dan

PS:Thanks for the link DB i did forget it..

Posts 5285
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 16 2011 10:41 AM

Come on people….. with the cheaper pricing no reason not to get this gem. It;s getting closer to production, moving so fast since the price drop. Lets get it into production, it may not be a Christmas miracle but it's something that we can do get it under contract before Christmas.

 

-Dan

Posts 2839
Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 16 2011 3:41 PM

Dan,

I certainly hope you get it.  You have done a marvelous job promoting this resource.  Good work!

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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