These days, NT introductions are all over the place. They can be found all over and just about everywhere. From more liberal introductions there is Achtemeier and Green’s Introduction and Raymond Brown’s Introduction, to the moderately conservative Introduction by Donald Hagner, up to the conservative evangelical The Cradle, The Cross, and the Crown by KKQ. Since there are so many NT Introductions, I’m thankful to be able to review a book like this, hopefully fulfilling my intention of pointing people to good biblical books.
While much different than David deSilva’s NT Introduction which deals much more with the cultural, social, and rhetorical life and setting of the NT world, KKQ have put together a rather large 954 page Introduction to the NT based on everything you would need to know about the NT. It’s divided into five parts:
II. Jesus and the Gospels
III. The Early Church and Paul
IV. The General Epistles and Revelation
Hopefully my previous posts have given you a bit of a (albeit, small) taste of the book:
- Contemporary Portrayals of Jesus: Part 1
- Contemporary Portrayals of Jesus: Part 2
- OT Prophecies in Matthew
- Jesus’ Fulfillment of OT Feasts and Festivals
- Paul’s Allusions to Jesus
- Rhetorical Q&A in Romans 6-7
It’s quite a task trying to review a NT Intro. There’s so much to discuss, and so little space to talk about it. I’ll start by telling you how this book differs from other NT Introductions. This review will differ from others of mine as there are plenty of lists, but I hope it makes it all easier to read and comprehend.
Each chapter begins with a Core Knowledge section, divided up into three smaller segments:
- Advanced Knowledge
This book has both the student and the teacher in mind, and depending on the school one is teaching/learning at, or how many semesters they will have of a particular course, can help determine how detailed a teacher would want to get. The Advanced Knowledge section is available for those students who want to move beyond the Intermediate- and go further in their own study.
Chapter 1 introduces discussions on The Nature and Scope of Scripture dealing with
- Evidence and Scholarship on the Canon of Scripture
- Translations and transmission of the biblical manuscripts
- How Jesus and the early church viewed the OT
Chapter 2 is on The Political and Religious Background of the New Testament
Chapter 3 is Jesus and the Relationships Between the Gospels. We read about
- Historical quest for Jesus
- Contemporary views of Jesus
- Approximate chronology of Jesus’ life
- Variety of discussions on
Once we get to the NT books themselves (including a chapter on the Apostle Paul), we see what would normally be in a NT Introduction:
- Destination of the letter
- Literary plan.
But the topics aren’t static. Different books can have a different series of discussions.
- John has an Occasion for the letter (what led him to write his gospel)
- Acts has Genre and Historical Reliability
- Corinthians has a piece on Paul’s Opponents
There is no stock set of questions. The authors have freedom to add discussions to the normal list that they think would be beneficial.
The authors divide each book into two ways:
- Unit-By-Unit Discussion
The authors here do a much better job than the others I’ve read (Tenney, Metzger, Geisler) in discussing each Unit. While I have read portions of deSilva’s NT Introduction and have very much enjoyed it, he does not have a Unit-By-Unit Discussion making it tough to find a specific verse/section. Though his purposes are more thematic and show the connections within a particular NT book, here the Unit-By-Unit Discussions are exactly what many will want.
Each letter ends with a Theology section which looks at some of the main themes in each letter.
- Acts has Salvation History and The Holy Spirit
- Romans has 13 pages on The “Righteousness of God” and justification
- Philemon gives A Christian Approach to Slavery and Other Social Issues
- James gives Wisdom and Ethics
The final sections of each letter are:
- Contribution to the Canon
- Study Questions (good questions, I might add)
- and a long Further Study (aka bibliography)
The book concludes with Unity and Diversity in the New Testament, which shows just how the 27 NT books interrelate.
- The Synoptics and John are not irreconcilable
- Paul’s teaching is not wildly opposed to Jesus’
- Paul’s letters do jive with the account of Acts
The NT can be trusted for they all speak of one God and the good news of the gospel about the risen and exalted Messiah.
The Chocolate Milk
The authors are good at reviewing differing perspectives, the biggest of which can be found in Revelation. They cover the Preterist, Historicist, Idealist, and Futurist options, and settle on the futurist (more likely called a modified/moderate futurism) approach which affirms the thousand-year reign of Christ but disregards the “strict literalism,” the distinction between Israel and the church, the chronology of end-time events, and the belief in the pretribulational rapture as taught in dispensational theology. They pick a side (because everyone eventually has to, lest Revelation be impossible to interpret) and give a good discussion regarding each view, showing their strengths and weaknesses.
This introduction is a good, academic work. It’s pretty easy to read, though I understand not everybody is breaking down the doors to know about the Two-Document Hypothesis vs. Markan Priority (though I enjoyed it). The chapter on the Second Temple Period was well done. It’s still a difficult read, but better than some books I’ve read (see my review of Leithart’s The Four). Even still, there’s something for everyone in this book, and if nothing else, all will enjoy reading about each NT letter.
There is plenty of eye candy (so to speak) to go around making it feel like Halloween for the reader:
The Spoiled Milk
Though it’s not deSilva, I was disappointed that, unlike deSilva, there was not much discussion of the social, cultural, and rhetorical contexts of the NT world. Patron-client relationships are briefly mentioned in the Destination of Luke (written to Theophilus), but surprisingly not much besides that, not even in the Corinthian correspondence where a knowledge of the patron-client relationship is key to a deeper understanding of the underlying issues going on between Paul and his church. Regardless, this isn’t a major deal, but it still would be helpful in knowing the mindset of the NT world.
Yes, certainly. If you’re looking for a good, solid, conservative, evangelical NT introduction, this is the one to get. Even if that’s not exactly what you’re looking for, I would still point you in this direction. It has plenty of information, a thorough analysis of each NT letter, up-to-date studies in how we received our Bible and how it has been translated and how Jesus has been interpreted over the years, you can’t go wrong here. Even better, they believe in the inspired word of God. This should be implied in the words “solid, conservative, evangelical,” but because there is so much waffling out there, I feel it needs to be said. This is a book I’ll come back to for years to come.
[Special thanks to Chris at B&H for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]