Book Notice: Matthew, Disciple and Scribe

Patrick Schreiner. Matthew, Disciple and Scribe: The First Gospel and Its Portrait of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019. 304 pages. $29.99 (paperback).

In Matthew, Disciple and Scribe: The First Gospel and Its Portrait of Jesus, Patrick Schreiner, associate professor of New Testament at Western Seminary, offers a fresh perspective for the reader of Matthew’s Gospel. Using Matt 13:52 (“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old”)—Schreiner suggests that Matthew views himself as a graduate of a new scribal school under a new teacher of wisdom—Jesus. In contrast to the traditions of former Jewish scribes, Jesus leads his followers in new wisdom concerning how the old teachings relate to the new in light of his own significance. As he does the work of a scribe, therefore, Matthew is faithful to the Great Commission by spotlighting Jesus’ fulfillment of Jewish scripture in order to encourage future generations toward discipleship.

Schreiner helpfully demonstrates how Matthew reshapes his readers’ perspective of Jesus and the Scriptures and promotes discipleship. By examining how fulfillment motifs (or in his terms, “shadow stories”) highlight parallels between Jesus and figures such as David, Solomon, Moses, and Abraham, Schreiner shows that Matthew invites readers to interpret Jesus’ life through the “alternation of the new and the old” (p. 9). Schreiner’s approach to these parallels is unique. Instead of looking only for specific vocabulary which connects Jesus to Jewish scripture, he devotes individual chapters which each scan all of Matthew’s content in order to understand Jesus’ relationship with key Old Testament figures. Reading Matthew’s Gospel thematically in this manner provides much interpretive fruit as Jesus is seen as both familiar and unfamiliar in the Old Testament’s story—old and new.

In arguing that Matthew envisioned himself as taking up the obligation of the Great Commission in his portrait of Jesus, Schreiner also brings out treasures that inspire study, contemplation, and worship. According to Schreiner, true scribes learn, interpret, write, distribute, and teach (p. 22). By examining the ways in which Jesus fulfills Jewish scripture, Schreiner promotes discipleship through scholarship—the work of a discipled scribe—and calls his readers to do the same. By utilizing Schreiner’s framework, readers can approach Matthew’s Gospel to see a Jesus that is both expected and unexpected. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection must be viewed as advancing the story of Jewish scripture—which is exactly how Matthew wanted us to see it.

CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. The present book notice was written by Jonathan Wright, a Ph.D. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.


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