Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
One of the things I spend most of my time on is developing curriculum to go with NavPress' LifeChange Series. As a part of that work, I've spent a lot of time reading Matthew Henry's biblical commentary.
Even though a new edition of his work was published in 1997, his original work is over 300 years old. I fell in love with some of the old classical writings in my doctoral work. I especially enjoyed reading books on teaching that dated in the late 18000s and early 1900s. I loved being able to see the passion of those early teachers and how far we as teachers have come.
When I first started reading Henry's older work, I couldn't get past the funny English spelling (seemed like every other word had a "u" in it that had no purpose), the use of "thee" and "thou" and "thy" and the convoluted sentence structures. I mean, he used semi-colons and colons in ways that would never pass an editor these days. The editor is me kept getting hung up on those idiosyncrasies.
And then, I started reading the words for themselves, and making my way through those convoluted sentences, and found instead a passion in those words that began to resonate with me. I found myself nodding with affirmation of a uniquely-turned phrase that captured truth for me in a new way, even though the words were penned three centuries ago. Commentaries today are so academic, and so analytical, that there's little room for passion for Christ in the words. Not so with Matthew Henry. The reader can tell that Henry not only knew what he was talking about, he personally knew the One as well.
Many years ago, a youth worker wrote that the greatest sin youth teachers could commit was convincing teenagers that the Bible is boring through the way they teach. I can't help but believe she would have loved Matthew Henry's take on the Bible.
Other commentaries give more depth and have the luxury of the work of textural critics and archaeologists to draw upon. But for fun, try Matthew Henry's.