The Matthew Henry Study Bible

This work comes complete with brief biography of Matthew Henry, introduction, the text of the Bible in KJV, column biblical references, KJV concordance, eight maps, and Matthew Henry’s notes which, according to the editor have stood the test of time, having ‘been read and pondered with great benefit by Bible students, preachers, and professors for nearly three hundred years’ (p. ix). It is in the accustomed style of the ‘Study Bible’ – a genre that has much to commend it, the full-blown Bible commentary becoming all too easily an end in itself, tempting one away from reading the actual Bible. The ‘Study Bible’ gives notes and guidance to help one read the Bible text, hopefully with enhanced understanding.

The biblical text in this work has certainly stood the test of long usage, was undoubtedly a responsible translation, and brought the Bible to the people in remarkable ways. But that was four hundred years ago, and not only has English usage changed enormously over the intervening centuries (e.g. ‘prevent’, ‘suffer’, ‘thee’, ‘thou’), but also our understanding of the original texts of both Testaments has developed. Further, although KJV continues to be much loved by an older generation, I do not observe a similar attachment on the part of younger people.

The Notes in the book come from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, a devotional and practical commentary, which in its heyday was regularly republished and was to be found in many homes. It came from the pen of a practical, working Presbyterian minister in Chester. Again, mountains of scholarship have intervened since Matthew Henry (1662-1714) laboured, that inevitably give his comments a somewhat dated appearance.

Many, I am sure, will welcome this work with its assured provenance of both KJV and Matthew Henry, but great though my respect is for both of them in terms of their contributions to the Church in past centuries, this reviewer would rather search among some latter-day successors for a Study Bible, and other help for our study and contemporary understanding and exposition of the Bible.