Matthew is the most familiar of the gospels, best known for its parables, miracle narratives, and the long Sermon on the Mount. Recognized by the early Church as the most fitting introduction to the New Testament, its special concern is to announce Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Hence, its emphasis on the Law, on ethics based on the traditional theology of the Covenant, and on the centrality of Messianic hope. This commentary sets the understanding of Matthew in the context of its author’s own religious and secular background. Believing that the text should be approached directly, the writers of the commentary make constant use of the recently discovered historical and linguistic evidence now available to elucidate it. This approach results in placing Jesus firmly within the framework of ascertainable Jewish tradition in first-century Palestine. The writers hold that the claim of Jesus to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it must be taken seriously. They have therefore taken a fresh look at the legal discussions in Matthew. In the light of their examination, there emerges first a revaluation of the meaning attached to such key words as “parables” and “hypocrite” and then a new and vital significance for such words. The result is a new respect for Matthew, a highly reliable early source for the ministry of Jesus, and an examination of that ministry.
The Anchor Yale Bible (90 vols.) is a project of international and interfaith scope in which Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish scholars from many countries contribute individual volumes. The project is not sponsored by any ecclesiastical organization and is not intended to reflect any particular theological doctrine.
The Anchor Yale Bible is committed to producing commentaries in the tradition established half a century ago by the founders of the series, William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. It aims to present the best contemporary scholarship in a way that is accessible not only to scholars but also to the educated nonspecialist. Its approach is grounded in exact translation of the ancient languages and an appreciation of the historical and cultural context in which the biblical books were written supplemented by insights from modern methods, such as sociological and literary criticism.
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William Foxwell Albright was senior editor of The Anchor Bible
C. S. Mann is dean of the Ecumenical Institute Theology, St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore.