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Everyday conversations with Matthew by John Holdsworth

Holdsworth brings the situations of ordinary readers into conversation with scholarship to help make the text accessible and practically or pastorally useful in specific instances

Everyday matthewEveryday conversations with Matthew
By John Holdsworth
ISBN 9780334057468
Reviewed by John Rackley

‘Although having a common purpose, each of the Synoptic Gospels is an individual and crafted attempt to make the Christian message about Jesus relevant to its own community.'

So how are they to be read today? John Holdsworth creates an imaginary community.

Among them is Chris, a recent convert who is responding to exciting worship and wants to research the faith documents but is put off the way the gospel starts.

TJ is surprised to meet some Christians who are political activists like himself. Brian has angrily walked away from his church which he regards as rule-bound and conservative. Nikki is worried about the power of social media and wonders what she can trust in the news. David is a disillusioned minister.

Holdsworth lines up this cast with others and lets their need introduce each chapter which describes a facet of the message and ministry of Jesus. His style is fluid and clear. He deliberately refers to scholarship regularly and offers tasks and questions which arise from the text.

He suggests that ‘in these texts we see Jesus facing up to conflict and controversy, ministering at the margins, overturning presuppositions about insiders and outsiders, privileging the powerless, demonstrating the authority of ethical leadership, challenging allegiance to empire and institutional religion’.

Jesus is a talker. He chats. He preaches. He argues. He exhorts. His actions arise from his words. Through Jesus, Christians have a message from God. This needs to be explored and explained.

After a time in the shadow of the other gospels Holdsworth believes that Matthew needs to become the ‘gospel’ for today. For in this gospel Jesus is the Teacher and in a culture of many voices his voice needs to be heard, not only in the deeds of his people but in their stated convictions and conversation. Matthew is the coffee-shop gospel. 

John Rackley is a LEP Associate Minister in Leicester

Baptist Times, 22/11/2019
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