Subscribe via RSS Feed

Jonathan Pennington’s Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew, reviewed by John Poirier

From Pneuma Review Fall 2012

Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of MatthewJonathan T. Pennington, Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 416 pages, ISBN 9780801037283.

This book is a more affordable edition of a book published by E. J. Brill in 2007.

The Gospel of Matthew is the only gospel to use the term “kingdom of heaven” in place of “kingdom of God” (in all but four places), a characteristic that has not been widely discussed. Jonathan Pennington seeks to show that the usual explanation for Matthew’s preference for “kingdom of heaven”—that “heaven” serves within that term as a Jewish-style reverential circumlocution for “God”—cannot possibly be correct. As Pennington shows, Matthew shows no guardedness against the use of “God” at any point in his gospel. If Matthew objected to the term “kingdom of God” out of reverence for “God”, it is strange that he so carelessly uses “God” so many times.

The fact that “kingdom of heaven” is not simply a circumlocution opens the way for a different explanation, one likely to be theological. According to Pennington, “‘heaven and earth’ provides the parameters and content for Matthew’s symbolic universe” (p. 336). Pennington convincingly argues that Matthew defines the people of God in non-ethnic terms. God’s people are heavenly—they act according to heaven’s way of doing things, and they are identified over against the systems of the world.

Pennington’s writing is clear, and his notations are always relevant. This study is superb in every respect, and there is little question that it deserved to be put in the price range of more people.

Reviewed by John C. Poirier

Preview Heaven and Earth:


Pin It

Tags: ,

Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2012, Pneuma Review

About the Author: John C. Poirier, Th.M. (Duke Divinity), D.H.L. (Jewish Theological Seminary), is an independent scholar who has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics. He is the author of The Invention of the Inspired Text: Philological Windows on the Theopneustia of Scripture (2021).

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?