Understanding Matthew: The Early Christian Worldview of the first Gospel

Understanding Matthew: The Early Christian Worldview of the first Gospel

Westerholm, Stephan

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978-0-8010-2738-3

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Stephen Westerholm provides an engaging guide to the gospel of Matthew. His goal is that readers »begin to understand how Matthew made sense of things, and to see how it makes sense to make sense of things that way.» Westerholm begins by introducing the idea of a worldview and considers what that might have looked like for early Jewish Christians. He surveys Matthew's account of God's dealings with Israel and Jesus's proclamation of the kingdom of God. He then considers Jesus's call to discipleship and illustrates it from the life and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Westerholm's study is a broadly accessible work that will provide students and pastors with an excellent introduction to the gospel of Matthew.

From Publishers Weekly

Westerholm, associate professor of religious studies at Canada's McMaster University and author of several previous works, begins this unique study with a lengthy discussion of the meaning of »worldview» and its impact on biblical studies, exploring the sometimes-utopian sounding teachings of Matthew's gospel in the context of an unfair and cruel world. He then parallels Matthew's experience with that of German clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who would die a martyr as the era of Nazi terror drew to an end. Westerholm views both men as exemplars of righteousness in a world unfriendly to godly principles. How does one make sense of the seeming randomness of life? Does God really direct history? According to Westerholm, although the kind of living that Matthew calls for seems unreasonable, Christians like Bonhoeffer demonstrate that, even in the most severe of circumstances, one can live a righteous life. For both Jesus and Bonhoeffer, commitment to the godly ideal led to their deaths. »Everything in Matthew hinges on the truth of the claims that Goodness-not chaos, indifference, or evil-lies at the source of all life.» Westerholm insists this Goodness must underlie one's experience if one wishes to escape a meaningless life. This book merits a wide readership among scholars and students alike, as it challenges and inspires the reader toward a deeper Christian experience.

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