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Of the making of commentaries there is no end.

And figuring out how to convey all the information in an attractive, intuitive, accessible way is no easy task.

Off the top of my head, I’d say that the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament is one of the most successful--a great example of how important excellent typesetting can be in making a commentary successful.

The worst format has to be the Word Commentary series. I believe it was Don Carson who said that the layout alone is an opportunity for sanctification!

I now think that the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament is probably the best in terms of creative typesetting and a well thought-through approach for making available the kinds of materials that pastors in particular need in preparing messages. The format it clean and attractive and useful. Especially helpful is the use of Greek instead of transliteration, the sentence flows that look at the logical relationships between the clauses and propositions, and the application section at the end. It’s just the sort of thing I’m looking for when studying a passage, a chapter, or a book.

I’ve been dipping into Grant Osborne’s new volume in the series on Matthew, and I like it a lot.

You can read his entry on the 1:17 of Matthew to get a feel for the format.

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22 thoughts on “Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on Matthew”

  1. David Anderson says:

    Well said. This looks very good. It reminds me of Alan Ross’s commentary on Genesis, in terms of ease of use. Thanks for passing this along.

  2. Steve says:

    Looks great. Just don’t understand why they insist on using the TNIV. That is a big shortcoming in my eyes.

  3. Ted Bigelow says:

    Ouch. The TNIV. Then “Q” – double ouch. But the pages are indeed beautiful.

    1. Brent Hobbs says:

      To this and comment above, other than gender-neutrality, I would argue that the TNIV is actually an excellent translation. Most commentaries are going to choose one English text to cite or quote more than others, but that’s hardly a reason to prefer or discount a commentary.

      And similiar for the mention of “Q”. Most good commentaries are going to at least touch on source criticism, and this one clearly does not let that get out of proportion in emphasis like some (See Bock on Luke for example, IMHO). Hardly a good reason to make negative comments about the work.

    2. dkm says:

      I ask this with sincerity:

      What is your issue with the concept of Q? Please explain.

      1. Ted Bigelow says:


        You seem to be familiar with Q, and there are very good reasons to reject the whole theory.

        Please buy Thomas and Farnell’s book on it called The Jesus Crisis:

        1. dkm says:

          I understand the problem with outright skepticism and suspicion. I know much historical crit. has been done from this premise.

          But everything that I have been taught about Q not only makes sense, but leads to viewing the date of composition as being early, and further, was brilliantly defended by simply looking at the synoptics.

          I have seen very good reason for accepting it.

          I just don’t have time to read that now, but I will put it in the reading list.

          Thanks for the reply.

  4. Justin Taylor says:

    I may be wrong, but I think the actual bold Scripture translations are the author’s own translations.

  5. Edward Klink says:

    Yes, the translations are the author’s own.

  6. Brent Hobbs says:

    I can put up with bad typesetting and even format (Word) as long as the content is excellent. That said, I like the visual appeal of the sample. The format, especially the “Theology in Application” section at the end strikes me as taking away from the commentary. It actually seems to take it cues from the Word series in some ways, where I feel like I have to read three different sections on the same passage, instead of having it all integrated. I much prefer o be able to work through the passage as a whole dealing with textual issues, translation, literary form, exegesis, and theology together, much like the NIC series or NIGTC or Pillar.

    Thats said, content is king, so I would look forward to some reviews on the volume. For me, R.T. France is quite excellent on Matthew and with it being so recent, this one would have to get pretty good reviews for me to consider adding it to what I already have (Carson, Nolland, and Blomberg.)

  7. John says:

    This looks outstanding. I have Blomberg’s volume on James but have yet to really dive into it.

    Good to see you reading someone who’s not reformed, JT ;-)

  8. Dan Phillips says:

    There’s more about WBC that’s disappointing than the typesetting, but that is a factor.

    OTOH, the ICC series is pretty marvelous to behold, typesettingwise.

    TNIV is a pretty horrid choice, will be glad to see it go.

    1. John says:

      Why is the TNIV a “horrid choice”? Is it just the gender neutrality issue? If so, do you realize that most people speak like this now?

      1. Dan Phillips says:

        So… it’s news to you that there are still some people who think that it is a BAD THING to warp a Bible to kiss-up to a worldly, anti-Biblical fad? Reading through Proverbs and Hebrew, while comparing the TNIV, I had to note twist after twist of the text to suit a political agenda.

        I’m guessing that if you need me to tell you this, you’ve already worked out a rationalization.

        And I’m telling you, there’s no way it will persuade me.

      2. Scott says:


        Sorry you asked Dan a legitimate question. You should know by now how that turns out.

    2. Brent Hobbs says:

      I also dislike the gender-neutral approach to translation. However, as I use the TNIV and 9 other translations often times to study (have a window set up like that in Accordance), I’m continually impressed that it does a good job of conveying the meaning of the text.

      I think that functional equivalence is overrated at times, though sometimes I prefer it. For my preaching I use the NIV for several reasons. Very often when I find a passage a wish the NIV had translated differently, I’ll check the TNIV and it will be corrected there.

      That’s one reason I’m looking forward to the updated NIV text and sincerely hoping it does not take a gender neutral approach.

      1. John says:

        I guess I just don’t really understand why people think the “gender neutral” thing is so evil. Is it really wrong to translate “brothers and sisters” where the text might say “brothers” but it is really speaking to men and women? Is that really bad? All translations, even the NASB & ESV, add certain things into the text that are implied but not present.

  9. Glenn says:

    John, there is a whole lot more to it than that. There are many changes made to the text in the TNIV to accommodate an agenda from outside scripture and many of those changes do alter the original meanings.
    The ‘brothers’ or ‘brothers & sisters’ example is a straw man really because it is often brought up so as to avoid the deeper real issues.

    BUT this is all going off track and spoiling the intent of this post so I would suggest dropping it now.

    1. John says:

      The post doesn’t have much activity anyways. I guess I’m just interested because I’ve always heard people speak negatively about the TNIV for “gender neutrality” but I’ve never heard any examples of which you speak. The “brothers & sisters” thing I consider very relevant because that’s what gender neutrality is in a nutshell. I want the “deeper real issues.” I honestly do. I’m not trying to debate, win an argument, or make somebody else change their mind. I want to know the issue people have with the TNIV other than a blanket statement like “it serves a political agenda” or “it’s gender neutral & gender neutrality is bad.” Can you point me to a place that discusses them?

      Perhaps I find it tough to believe because so many good scholars were on the translation committee…good, conservative evangelical scholars who aren’t concerned with political agendas. In fact, to my understanding a good portion of them were even reformed (Doug Moo, anyone?). Just seems strange to me there’s been so much backlash and I wonder if it has more to do with tribal mentalities and soapboxes more than translation philosophy and political agendas. I’d love to be proven wrong.

  10. ND says:

    Didn’t Carson write a book about this once? Oh yeah, and with the subtitle…’a plea for realism’!!

  11. Glenn says:

    Hi John, a good resource is “The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy” by Wayne Grudem & Vern Poythress. (2003 ver or later)

    A few examples of the ‘real’ concerns;

    ‘son’ (huios, singular) 6 times in TNIV changed to “child, children, human beings”

    ‘he/him/his/himself’ 530 times in TNIV changed to “they, you, we” or omitted altogether

    You may not agree with Grudem or Poythress, but if you want to understand the ‘controversy’ then their book will at least explain why so many people “made a fuss”

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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