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on July 10, 2004
Ladd's New Testament Theology is a helpful introduction to the Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Ladd's primary contribution to the field of Biblical Theology is the incorporation of the "already" "not yet" eschatological dimension into New Testament theology. In his work he argues that there is a tension between realized and future eschatology throughout the entire New Testament. The future Kingdom of God has broken into the present and has radically shifted the entire redemptive history of the New Testament. While this Kingdom of God has become a present reality the entirety of its reign remains a future hope. This tension exists throughout the entire New Testament.
Ladd treats the Synoptic Gospels together and focuses primarily in arguing his case that the future coming age has broken in to the present age. R. T. France adds a helpful chapter where he looks at the unique contribution of each of the synoptics to theology. Much of the material on the Synoptics seemed a bit redundant and could have been shortened. However, when Ladd proceeds to discuss the Gospel of John he is at his best. The chapter where he discusses the Johannine Dualism is extremely helpful. Also the chapter on John's view of eternal life is very instructive.
In my opinion the best chapter in the book is on the resurrection of Christ. If Christ be not raised from the dead then our faith is useless - Ladd showed the importance and necessity of the resurrection throughout this chapter. He argued persuasively for the undeniable historical fact of the resurrection. Also in his dealing with the relationship of the church and Israel I believe he is dead on. He argues correctly that the church is the new spiritual Israel.
I must confess that his section on Paul was slightly disappointing. I believe that Ridderbos' Paul: An Outline is the best on Pauline Theology and most other works pale in comparison. With that said, the section was still helpful. Much of the section on Paul seems dated as it was written before the "Sanders Revolution." However, his section on Paul and the Law proves refreshing compared to the material written today although I disagree with his interpretation of Romans 7.
The chapter on the work of Christ, which detailed the atonement, was helpful. Ladd treats various biblical aspects of the atonement such as its relation to the love of God, its sacrificial and substitutionary nature along with propitiation and redemption. In his chapter on justification he highlights that justification is eschatological. While I believe this is true I remain nervous at the possible outcome for holding such a view. One potential danger is to say that the ground of realized justification is the work of Christ while the ground of future justification is the resultant good works. I believe he is correct to write, "Justification, which primarily means acquittal at the final judgment, has already taken place in the present. The eschatological judgment is no longer alone future; it has become a verdict in history" (483). Although I hesitate to use the word "primarily" for justification also seems to be rooted in eternity while worked out in present time and consummated in the future. Ladd uses the language of imputation and argues that the ground of our justification is the work of Christ and his righteousness imputed to our account (489, 491).
The rest of Ladd's work is most disappointing. He spends a mere 70 pages in dealing with the rest of the New Testament. His treatment of Hebrews - a theologically rich book - barely skims the surface while his treatment of the rest of the Catholic Epistles is hardly worth reading. Also it is surprising for someone who has done so much work on eschatology to only spend 15 pages on the book of Revelation. David Wenham's essay on the "Unity and Diversity of the New Testament" is a helpful introduction to a difficult subject.
Overall I believe that Ladd's work is a helpful contribution to the field of New Testament Theology although I believe it is sadly lacking in some places. Some of the additional essays (Hagner, France, and Wenham) have sought to fill the void, but there remains a large gap in the Catholic Epistles. Nonetheless, it is a volume worth working through and should remain a valuable repository for years to come.
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on April 5, 2001
If the only way you have ever seen theology done is Systematics, you need to read G.E. Ladd's New Testament Theology. Biblical Theology will look different from what you've seen in the past. But it emphasizes what the TEXT emphasizes, and no one did it as well as G.E.Ladd.
The additional chapters in this update are indeed helpful. The only distracting thing in this 2nd edition is the remarks made at times by the editor, who at points seems to be trying to explain away some of Ladd's theology. This is unfortunate, because in all of these occasions I find Ladd's exegesis more convincing than his.
But Ladd's Theology of the Kingdom, and his development of Salvation History are both exemplary. Systematic Theologians will be uncomfortable with the way he leaves tension between author's of Scripture at points. But Biblical Theology would resist the urge to "flatten" the distinctions that each individual author makes. If that is sometimes uncomfortable, so be it.
This is Biblical Theology at its finest, and needs to be in every serious scholar's library.
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on October 21, 2003
If you want a great book on evangelical theology, this book is for you. Ladd states his reason for writing this book: If evangelical Protestants do not overcome their preoccupation with negative criticism of contemporary theological deviations at the expense of the construction of preferable alternatives to these, they will not be much of a doctrinal force in the decade ahead.
Ladd analyzes the presuppositions of liberal scholarship and shows how they fail to hold up to the test of accuracy, reason and logic. In his discussion of the historical Jesus and the Gospel of John, he brings to light one of the most basic presuppositions of the critical New Testament scholars by pointing out that they assume that the mind of Jesus is so limited that any apparent contrast between John and the Synoptic gospels must be due to differences in the early Church. Ladd further states that: Every great thinker. . . will select what seems most congenial or useful out of what he has seen and heard. Thus, Ladd diminishes the critical problem of the fourth gospel. He also points out that liberal historians run into trouble because they have no category for the divine. Thus, they approach the Scripture with anti-supernatural presuppositions that prejudice their study. The liberal scholar rejects anything supernatural for which there are no adequate historical explanations.
Did Ladd accomplish his objective? I think so. The book has its weak points, but these may be due to limitations set by the publisher rather than Ladd's theology. His discussion on the historical Jesus and the book of Revelation are primes examples of this- they seemed rather shallow and flat. One feels that Ladd could have done a better job. He does acknowledge in the preface that his study on Revelation that it is lacking an abundance of material. Other than these setbacks, Ladd does an excellent job presenting the Gospel as a truthful and accurate representation of the life and ministry of Christ.
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on August 27, 2003
Anyone wanting a good NT theology book should never pass up on Ladd's book. The book is nicely organized and arranged in a logical manner. The book covers practically every book and doctrinal issue in the NT. There are six major sections in the book in the following order: 1) The Synoptic Gospels; 2) The Fourth Gospel; 3) The Primitive Church; 4) Paul; 5) Hebrews and the General Epistles; and 6) The Apocalypse. The book is very scholarly but easy to read for the average seminarian. Ladd writes from an evangelical Baptist perspective but interacts with scholars outside that tradition. Many of his exegeses of certain key passages are convincing and he gives a fair hearing on interpretations that disagree with his. His Kingdom theology and "already/not yet" approach to redemptive-history colours some of his interpretations (esp. on eschatological matters). However, his arguments are cogent and persuasive. Especially valuable is his section on Paul's theology (pp. 395-614). His section on Paul can be a book in itself! Though this book was originally published in 1974, it is still far superior to the other evangelical NT theology books out there (e.g., Guthrie, Morris, Zuck/Bock). If you're a student of the Bible wanting to get a better knowledge of what the NT writers taught this book is the best place to start.
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VINE VOICEon October 31, 2009
The preface to this book notes that it is intended to introduce seminary students to the discipline of New Testament theology. As a seminarian student, I think this book fulfills its intention more so in its treatment of the gospels and the Pauline writings than its writing on Hebrews and the other letters which seem to be more lightly developed. The positives of this book greatly outweigh any negatives. It is thorough almost throughout, well organized, well written and referenced and easy to read. I would suggest it not only as a text for seminary students or graduates but for any Christians eager to better understand the theology of the New Testament.

A theme throughout the book is holding in tension the unity and diversity of the Scriptures and the "already-not yet" nature of the kingdom of God that has already been inaugurated but not yet consummated. There is in fact a helpful chapter on the topic of the unity and diversity in the New Testament.

This is a positive treatment of Scripture that stands out in conflict with the overly critical and negative contemporary criticism of Scripture that has gone awry in support of faithless presuppositions. This book sets New Testament study aright for contemporary readers. Ladd illustrates a commitment of historical study of the New Testament with an openness to its theological truth. His orientation is admittedly evangelical and geared toward enabling faith and obedience to God's word. He does not overlook or withhold scholarly views that conflict with his own but lists them along with others as possible interpretations; however, he does not let them go unchallenged.

This is no perfect theological book, as none are. Readers are sure to find weaknesses. I thought his treatment of sacramental theology was lacking. But this is an enormous accomplishment and resource for the church.
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on November 5, 2012
The significance of Ladd's work is hard to fully quantify, but the fact that most Evangelicals will comfortably tout 'already, but not yet' theology is evidence of his contribution. As time goes on Ladd's theology is being seen as more 'background reading' than contemporary theology, but it is still rare to read contemporary theology that is not partly based on Ladd's contributions. Some of Ladd's writing is overly dogmatic or forceful for particular understandings, but read critically this introduction will provide a foundational depth necessary for reading more prolific modern theologies.
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on September 21, 2015
I have read this book off and on for well over 10 years. When I was assigned to read the first 200 or so pages for a seminary class, I rejoiced on the inside. First of all, his writing is eminently professional and readable. What do I mean by that? It means that he doesn't over-complicate his sentences but he certainly doesn't dumb them down, either. I have read theology textbooks that were thick on content but thin on their ability to communicate. Ladd's writing style catches me in its grip and makes me want to read more. The book is comprehensive, too. After reading this, I could wish that all preachers would preach this kind of material.

Ladd's biggest emphasis - as is the title of one of his other books - is the presence of the future. "Within history and the world as it exists in the old age, redemptive events have taken place whose essential character is eschatological in the sense that in all previous thought they belonged to the Age to Come...Paul saw clearly that the resurrection of Jesus was an eschatological event. The resurrection of the dead remains an event at the end of the age when mortality will be exchanged for immortality. However, the resurrection of Jesus means nothing less than that this eschatological resurrection has already begun...The Messiah has begun his reign; the resurrection has begun; the eschatological gift of the Spirit has been given; yet the coming of the Messiah, resurrection, and the eschatological salvation remain objects of hope," (pgs. 407-409). While this is memorably stated during his description of Paul's theology, this "Already-Not Yet" theme permeates his theology from start to finish.
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on June 27, 2011
I do not agree with Ladd on everything, but his work is an excellent resource. I find myself using it frequently in other applications.
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on August 7, 2013
One doesn't need to agree with Ladd on every point to value this survey of his New Testament theology. Ladd's long scholarship jumps off every page. I had almost wished that the book was revised yet again some years later, after the first findings concerning covenantal nomism were better understood. But clear, concise but complete presentation of his approach to theology. One I still turn to frequently.
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on June 22, 2012
G.E. Lads's book is a gem in systematic theology. If you are looking to breakdown the bible on a step by step basis, this is the book to study.
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