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Matthew Henry: Daily Readings

By Randall J. Pederson
August 2010 | Review by Luke Jenner

Synopsis

This beautifully present gift edition is a new selection of Matthew Henry's writings that will nourish your spiritual life. Matthew Henry is one of the best known of our spiritual ancestors. His commentary on the whole Bible is still a staple book for those seeking understanding of God's word to the world. In this carefully edited edition, Randall Pederson has chosen passages that will encourage, inspire and challenge the reader each day. Bible passages are based upon the English Standard Version of the Bible.

  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: ASIN: B00KK4Y64W
  • Pages: 403
  • Price: £6.49 (Kindle Edition)
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Book Review

How do you make Matthew Henry bitesize? Randall Pederson appears to have done it. According to his introduction, Pederson, a research assistant at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, took a break from his normal work to select and edit 366 passages from Henry’s great 18th-century commentary.

He gently updated the English to become more accessible to the 21st century reader; he replaced KJV quotations with the language of the ESV; and added a heading and Scripture text (usually, though not always, a text from the passage being commented upon) to each daily two- or three-hundred-word section.

The whole thing ended up a leather-bound ‘Matthew Henry for the departure-lounge generation’. The result is pleasing.

I did not expect Matthew Henry’s commentary to be easy to convert into daily readings. I thought his lengthy expositions would resist the editor’s knife and only hold together when seen as a whole and alongside an open Bible with the full passage in view. But I was wrong.

The full passage is given in a footnote, so that readers can refer to it if they like, but the daily comments sit well as units in their own right.

They spur on to holiness; encourage a re-tightening of grip upon Christ; or perhaps deliver a short, sharp rebuke. This is no doubt a testimony to Pederson’s care in his selection process.

He skilfully handles the language, retaining Henry’s pithy and poetic turn-of-phrase, but removing the smokescreen of ‘haths’ and ‘thences’ that the plain-speaking commentator might have shunned were he writing today.

For it is Matthew Henry himself who is the hero here. His easy style, heart-engagement with the Bible and pastoral wisdom make the 300-year gap seem unimportant. This little devotional is a worthy companion for any Christian prepared to stop and chew on good meat for ten minutes every day. Well done, Mr Pederson. Thank you, Mr Henry.

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