Book Review: Ideal Disciples

Date Published

July 10, 2024

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Published by Calvin Seminary

In May 2024, Baylor University Press published Dr. Daniel Daley’s book Ideal Disciples. It is an exposition of Matthew’s Beatitudes that aids readers and followers of Christ in understanding the disposition and character Christ instructs them to cultivate.

Daley’s prompting to write Ideal Disciples came from his first book, God’s Will and Testament (Baylor University Press, 2021), where he explores the theme of inheritance in the Gospel of Matthew and the Jewish tradition. In God’s Will and Testament, Daley examines two of the Beatitudes in depth, specifically their contribution to the inheritance theme. After a highly positive reception of God’s Will and Testament and receiving several requests for an in-depth commentary on the Beatitudes, the idea of Ideal Disciples was born. Daley was eager and ready for an in-depth study of the Beatitudes, as it allowed him to revisit his work in God’s Will and Testament while drawing on his experience living in Europe and his love for in-depth study of the book of Matthew.

Daley cites his time spent studying and living in Belgium, Scotland, and Ireland as profoundly influential in his reading and interpretation of the Beatitudes and Scripture. As a student in Europe, Daley’s classrooms were filled with believers and non-believers alike from contexts much different than his own, inspiring him to think more broadly and diversely about how the Beatitudes might be read by people from other contexts. The lessons Daley learned from his peers carried into Ideal Disciples, where he writes, “We are enriched by the insights of others who engage with the text differently from ourselves.”

Drawing upon others’ insights on Scripture in scholarly literature, Daley’s commentary on the Beatitudes reflects his keen ability to dialogue with perspectives different from his own. In Ideal Disciples, readers will quickly notice that Daley provides in-depth, thoughtful engagement with ideas and interpretations of Scripture different from his own, interacting with these differences to address how the Beatitudes could be translated and interpreted based on their context. In addition, readers will benefit from Daley’s translation of each Beatitude from Greek to English, as well as the aspects of history, Second Temple literature, eschatological debates, and contextual analysis he provides.

Unlike many other scholars, Daley’s keen ability to write for a broad audience is on full display in Ideal Disciples. Both highly academic readers, pastors, and lay people alike will benefit from Daley’s enriching and clear analysis of the Beatitudes. These Beatitudes, Daley concludes, speak to the disposition and habits of an ‘ideal disciple’ of Jesus Christ, a leader who is equipped to obey the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), just as Jesus commands, not leaving the people of God without a shepherd, as the Pharisees were prone to do in the days of the New Testament. Believers from all ages and stages will be challenged, convicted, and enriched by Daley’s interpretation of the Beatitudes, propelled to a deeper understanding and pursuit of the character Christ instructs them to cultivate, becoming ‘ideal disciples’ that honor Him in their character and conduct.


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