Matthew’S Testimony And Modern Criticism

The Gospel According to St. Matthew, by Floyd V. Filson (Harper, 1960, 314 pp. $5), is reviewed by Ned B. Stonehouse, Professor of New Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary.

In this contribution to the series of Harper’s New Testament Commentaries, the author, well-known McCormick scholar, has been mainly concerned to make clear how the evangelist, whom he distinguishes from the Apostle Matthew, “understood the gospel story and what he wanted the Church to get from his book.” This concern has in many respects been admirably achieved especially when one considers the severe limitations of space. In the main Dr. Filson sticks closely to his last. And the volume reflects his ability to write succinctly and pointedly without sacrifice of clarity.

Although Dr. Filson occupies a negatively critical position, so far as the authority of Scripture is concerned, and shares to a significant degree the modern view that Matthew is representative of theological and practical viewpoints which developed in the Church after the death of Christ, his critical position is far more conservative than that of many contemporary New Testament scholars. One may single out, for example, his defense of the essential authenticity of the Matthaean record of Christ’s declarations concerning the Church in Matthew 16 (p. 186). Refreshing too is the observation that he stresses the decisive significance of the resurrection of Christ, and maintains in this connection that “the tomb was empty” and that no theory is satisfactory which “limits the resurrection to psychological recovery by the disciples or a purely spiritual survival by Jesus” (pp. 302 ff., cf. pp. 40 f.).

Nevertheless the author makes clear again and ...

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