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In this volume, Wright explains how the many parables Jesus tells are best understood in terms of their contemporary Jewish imagery, primarily surrounding God's relationship with his chosen people and the Temple. Wright characterizes Matthew's gospel as a guide to climbing the Eiger, the "mile-high rock, looking squarely at the death of Jesus in all its stark horror, and letting its beauty and terror captivate" us for ever (p.147). On such a high mountain, we can react to our realization of sinfulness in one of two ways. Just as a drop of rain falling on a mountain in Palestine can either run down into the Dead Sea or to the Jordan, we can react with a holy sorrow like Peter did, which leads to repentance, or a bitter remorse like Judas did, which leads to despair and destruction.
Wright makes a number of interesting observations about these chapters of Matthew:
1. Throughout the story of Jesus' arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, it is the women who speak or act truly: Pilate's wife, the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus, the servant-girls who challenge Peter's concealment, the women at the cross and beside the tomb. (P. 179)
2. Elements of the Sermon on the Mount are replicated in the story of Gethsemane, the arrest, trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
3. The "angels" of the little children, according to Jesus, do not have to hide their eyes like the six-winged cherubim guarding God's throne, instead their faces behold God's glory directly - Wright explains that this indicates how important the little children are to God.
Tom Wright's eye-opening comments on the Gospel of Matthew and what it might mean for us are combined, passage-by-passage, with his fresh translation of the Bible text. Making use of his true scholar's understanding, yet writing in an approachable and anecdotal style, Wright captures the urgency and excitement of Matthew's Gospel in a way few writers have.
Tom Wright has undertaken a tremendous task: to provide guides to all the books of the New Testament, and to include in them his own translation of the entire text. Each short passage is followed by a highly readable discussion with background information, useful explanations and suggestions, and thoughts as to how the text can be relevant to our lives today. A glossary is included at the back of the book. The series is suitable for group study, personal study, or daily devotions.
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