Incomplete Commentary on Matthew (Opus imperfectum) Volume 2

Incomplete Commentary on Matthew (Opus imperfectum as it is known in Latin) Volume 2, Ancient Christian Texts is a translation from InterVarsity Press. It was translated by James A. Kellerman and edited by Thomas C. Oden. It is part of their Ancient Christian Texts series. This volume continues the Incomplete Commentary on Matthew and includes Matthew chapter 12 through 25.

The Ancient Christian Texts series are translations of commentaries and sermons by early Church leaders that are translated into English. They allow anyone to study the writings of the early Christian writers and are intended for general and non-professional use by those that study the Bible on a regular basis.

This commentary is called ‘Incomplete’ because the original work was missing everything beyond the end of Matthew 25, and had gaps between Matthew 8:11-10:15 and 13:14-18:35.

It was originally written in Latin. The author is unknown, but it was originally believed to be John Chrysostom. The writing style does not match Chrysostom’s and the author refers to the book of Seth (from the apocrypha) in 2:2, which Chrysostom would not have used. Chrysostom wrote a book titled Commentary on Matthew, but it is unrelated to this volume. The Incomplete Commentary on Matthew is believed to have been written in the 5th century.

Thomas Aquianas held this volume in high regard and it was very popular in the middle ages. Each verse is given a lengthy treatment of commentary; so much that this translation had to be divided into two volumes. For example, the commentary on 4:1 takes 3.5 pages. Even though the commentary is lengthy, it is easy to read and follow, containing lots of references and illustrations (in words at least) to make the point.

Most of the passages that contain a mild form of Arianism are found in this volume (8:9 in the first volume, and 20:8, 20:23, and 23:32 in this volume). In Matthew 20:8 the author argues that if the Father or Son is the householder and the Son or Holy Spirit are the steward, then the steward is inferior to the householder. In Matthew 20:23 the author concludes that the Son is not equal to the Father because the Son’s authority comes from the Father. In Matthew 23:32 the author states that a belief in equal persons of the same substance and authority is Gentile paganism. Of course this last statement isn’t necessarily Arian. Some in the middle ages believed that the Arian thoughts had been added later since there was so very little mentioned.

Volume 2 contains an appendix that contains Matthew 8 commentary from an incomplete commentary by Chromatius of Aquileia, and a subject index and Scripture index for both volumes.

I recommend Incomplete Commentary on Matthew volume 1 and 2. The translator’s introduction is a good resource that sets the stage of early Church leaders and shows how theology was developed in the first few centuries. It is easy to read and follow and is a good commentary on the book of Matthew.

I would like to thank InterVarsity Press for this free review copy. My opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.

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