Review: "Matthew Henry: His Life and Influence"

Matthew Henry: His Life and Influence
Allan Harman
Christian Focus, 2012, 208pp., paperback, £8.99
ISBN 9781845507831

While Matthew Henry's commentary, though sneered at in some quarters, remains rightly esteemed, the man himself is often little more than a cipher. Though in a style that is not always lively, Allan Harman puts that right in this accessible biography by putting the writing in the context of the life. A good two thirds of the book is devoted to the life, with a fair amount of weight on the relationship Matthew had with his father, Philip. Philip's household provided the environment in which Matthew flourished as a Christian and as a scholar, and we trace Matthew through his early life, his call to preach, and his ministries at Chester and Hackney. It is occasionally disconcerting in this section to have the author follow a tangential theme to its chronological end before returning to the main chronological stream of the central narrative, but not so much as to wreck the flow. The last third of the book is more analytical, considering Henry as preacher, commentator and writer, together with his legacy as a whole. This is a thorough, insightful and helpful section. In the 350th anniversary year of Matthew Henry's birth, we would do well to consider his life and draw from it the valuable lessons to which Harman points us.