There is much to like about Patrick Schreiner’s new book, Matthew, Disciple and Scribe: The First Gospel and Its Portrait of Jesus (Baker Academic, 2019). In fact, I like it so much I have decided to use it as one of the textbooks for an elective I am teaching on Matthew’s Gospel this summer (over Zoom).
The book is creative and contains some real insights in the Gospel. Among other things, Schreiner argues that the evangelist is best viewed as “a scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 13:52). Schriener explains that his personal opinion is that the Gospel was written by the apostle Matthew himself, but he does not answer the many objections scholars would raise to that view or make a case for this position. In the end, this position does not really affect the overall argument of the book.
One feature that I really like about Schreiner’s book is his focus on wisdom themes in Matthew. Among other things, he shows that scribes were especially associated with sapiential traditions.
I will just share one interesting nugget. Schreiner points out that in the book of Proverbs wisdom is to be searched for like a hidden treasure:
My child, if you receive my wordsProv 2:1-5; my translation
and treasure up my commandments within you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
if you cry out for insight,
and lift up your voice for understanding;
if you seek her like silver,
and search for her as for hidden treasures—
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
He goes on to show that the notion of wisdom as a “hidden treasure” relates broadly to the motif of Jesus revealing the “secrets” (mysteria, “mysteries”) of the Kingdom. In Matthew, 11, for instance, Jesus prays,
I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to babes.Matt 11:25; my translation
Moreover, Jesus’ teaching is associated with “wisdom.” At the end of Matthew 13, those who hear him teach in the synagogues ask:
“From where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power?Matt 13:54; my translation
However, the notion of wisdom as a hidden treasure is especially relevant for understanding one of Jesus’ parables: the parable of the buried treasure:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field that a man found and hid. And in joy he goes and sells everything that he has and buys that field.Matt 13:44; my translation
I am just hitting some highlights. Schreiner has much more to say that is worth a close read.
The book initially caught my attention. What put it at the top of the pile, however, was the fact that it was endorsed by some of my favorite scholars. I have listed the blurbs from them below. You can find more information about the book on the publisher’s website, where you can purchase it as either a paperback or an e-book.
I am looking forward to hearing what my students think of the book!
“With Schreiner’s Matthew, Disciple and Scribe I have found a new favorite book on the Gospel of Matthew and a new required course text for my classes on the Synoptic Gospels. Both old and new insights abound in Schreiner’s fresh reading of Matthew, setting forth a powerful portrait of Jesus as the wise, righteous, merciful king; the new Moses, who leads his people to saving freedom through his death; and the one who brings Abraham’s blessing to all the nations.”
—Joshua W. Jipp, associate professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“By combining thoughtful research on what it means for Matthew to be a disciple of Teacher Jesus with the intertextual theology of Matthew’s text, Patrick Schreiner has provided a rich exploration of Matthew’s message.”
—Jonathan T. Pennington, associate professor of New Testament and director of doctoral studies, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Readers of the Bible often recognize the role the Gospels play as the bridge between old and new in Scripture. Schreiner gives the First Gospel special attention as he convincingly argues that Matthew is a disciple and scribe elucidating the relationship between old and new as he himself learned it from his teacher, Jesus. From this perspective, Schreiner sheds fresh light on what makes Matthew tick.”
—Nijay K. Gupta, Portland Seminary
“Does Scripture portray how to be a disciple of Jesus and a student-scholar? By unfolding Matthew’s vision of the discipled scribe, Patrick Schreiner shows how Jesus and Matthew bring forth gems both ancient and fresh. Come, sit at the feet of these master teachers.”
—Matthew W. Bates, associate professor of theology, Quincy University; author of Salvation by Allegiance Alone