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The New Testament: Its Background Growth and Content 3rd Edition Hardcover – May 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press; 3 edition (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0687052637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687052639
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Luther College, Decorah, IA

More About the Author

As one of the world's best-known scholars on the text of the New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger has taught for many years at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Customer Reviews

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I purchased this book for my online religion class.
Brenda Dawson
His prose is lucid and lacks the pedantry of much New Testament scholarship, which will assist the reader in understanding such scholarship.
David J. DeVore
Purchased as a text book for a College religion class.
Reader from Texas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By David J. DeVore on May 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the few college textbooks I did not have to use my highlighter to read. Metzger is extremely easy to understand; he structures his book chronologically, covering, albeit briefly given the spatial limitations of a short introductory text, most every topic the reader must understand to gain a basic knowledge of the context of the NT's development. The reader first will gain a basic understanding of the cultural context from which the New Testament arose, then will learn about the life of and sources for understanding of Jesus Christ, then finally will see the same for the apostolic age. His prose is lucid and lacks the pedantry of much New Testament scholarship, which will assist the reader in understanding such scholarship.

In assessing Metzger's positions, the reader must keep in mind that, as he plainly states in his preface, Metzger writes as a Christian. As such, he does not dispute traditional authorship for the majority of the New Testament (with the notable exception of 2 Peter), and argues that the evidence for Christ's resurrection is "overwhelming." Readers looking for the consensus of scholars on issues so contentious to conservatives will not find this book to their liking. That said, Metzger generally does well, given how little space he has, of presenting most sides of various debates and leaving it up to the reader to do further research necessary for finding his own opinion. Since this must be the objective of an introductory text, the text succeeds.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Deeth TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My son's gone back to college. He left this book lying around on his bedroom floor, so I decided to read it. After all, I'm leading a Bible study on the book of Mark on Tuesday mornings. Knowing more about the New Testament, Its Background, Growth and Content, can only help.

Since the book was clearly a college text book I wasn't sure how far I'd get. After all, college texts can be really slow to read. But I actually finished the book in two days and could scarcely put it down.

Since I grew up with a "Catholic" Bible, I was fascinated to learn more about the history of intertestament times and the Maccabean revolt. The insights into all the different groups of people in Judea at the time of Christ help bring a lot of the Gospel stories and Christ's teachings to life. And the information on local customs, in action and in speech, are truly amazing.

Interesting examples included the use of Judean overstatement (as opposed to British understatement I suppose), and picturesque speech (logs and specks in peoples' eyes). Rhythm and puns that we miss in translation were quite fascinating too. And the insights into how texts were collected, combined, used and preserved make the whole question of where our New Testament comes from much more interesting and well-grounded, besides providing a logical background to modern arguments about "hidden" and "lost" books.

I liked the fact that the author didn't shy away from difficulties. He doesn't assume that every word in some favorite translation is perfectly preserved, but instead looks at how the translations were made, how changes crept in, and how well-researched the analysis of those changes is.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kirialax on January 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is not a review of the latest edition of Bruce Metzger's 'The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content', but rather one of the 1987 reprint of the 1983 second edition. While I cannot comment on the latest edition, this one is quite dated. The "background" section of this book is definitely the strongest section. Metzger deals with the political, social, cultural, and religious background to Palestinian Judaism. This is important, simply because it provides the context for so much of the New Testament, but also because many readers are likely to be unfamiliar with it. I suspect that while many have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls and have heard the name Judas Maccabeus, they do not really understand just how that fits into the the context of first-century Judaism. Since there is a gap between the two testaments in the Bible at this point, much of this history may not be familiar to those who use the Bible as their main source for the history of ancient Israel, and so Metzger must be commended for doing a good job compressing a lot of data into a readable and relevant format. Some of his information in that section is a little dated, such as his understanding of the role of the Pharisees, but for the most part it is very good. The intellectual and religious currents of the Graeco-Roman world around Israel also gets a small chapter in the first part. There is not much to say on that, other than the fact that it is exceptionally brief and that any decent survey on the eastern Mediterranean during Hellenistic or early Roman times is likely to have a much better section.

The latter two sections of the book survey the life of Jesus and the apostolic church. This is where my major criticism of the book comes in, simply because there is not much here of any real interest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. E. Dungo on October 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was a good careful read, and served as a good supplement for Bibliology. Properly structured and well written. I intend to keep it as reference.

One has to be somewhat familiar with New Testament history to be able to read through. Its not a beginner-out-of-nowhere reading.

I am looking to extend my readings on his work with his more controversial- The Shepherd of Hermas and The Epistles of Clement- which caused a bit of an uproar with Evangelical Christians. Even in the subject of Christianity- a little naughty tabloid-type preference never hurt.

I recommend this book for anyone in Bible College as a very good reference on the New Testament.
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