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An Introduction to the New Testament Hardcover – August 29, 2005
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'...highly recommended. With its very careful, keenly nuanced, and extensively researched discussions, it may well be considered special in a way not originally intended by its authors. It deserves to be read not just by students but by all scholars of the New Testament.' (Review of Biblical Literature)
From the Author
D.A. Carson is professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Douglas J. Moo is associate professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical School. Leon Morris, retired, was principal of Ridley College, Melbourne, and served as visiting professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical School --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Overall, the authors are fair, biblical, and logical, making this a worthwhile book for a serious student and far superior to other, more liberal introductions. If you learn to skim the wordy sections, you'll benefit from this book.
Every chapter examines a particular book based on content, author, audience, date written, reason for the book, adoption into canon, recent studies, contribution and more. The authors make an in-depth examination of each book. They investigate and analyze each letter methodically. Carson and Moo do a balanced job and include the major dissenting opinions and the views of detractors.
While the bulk of the book is theological in nature it includes scrutiny from historical, sociological, linguistic, and anthropological perspectives. The authors are brilliant at contextualizing the writers, recipients and settings for the original letters. There is a detailed picture painted explaining why each letter was written.
Carson and Moo address historical and modern controversies within each letter. Liberal, conservative and outlandish viewpoints are represented. The authors critique the major positions and offer solid scrutiny to benefit the reader.
This book is written at an academic level, but it is certainly practical for casual readers. The high level analysis within this book lends itself nicely to both individual reading and group studies. The novice theologian and the scholar will find this as beneficial read. Without a doubt, this is a superb introductory overview of the books of the New Testament.
Each chapter is divided in the following sections (depending on which book they are discussing): contents, author, provenance (i.e. where was it written) and date, addressees (whom was it written to), integrity, literary history, text, nature and genre, purpose, >in recent studies<, theme and contribution.
Since it is an introductory text, the content, i.e. what the biblical book actually says, is only given a couple of pages - if you are looking for a detailed discussion of the content of a biblical book (e.g. Romans), you need to read a commentary, not a NT introductory text!
Some other readers have commented that they found the book dry reading - I personally didn't.
The authors write from a conservative evangelical viewpoint, but, in my opinion, they give sufficient voice to contrary viewpoints and discuss the pros and cons. Overall, I found the book quite balanced.
I like the structured and orderly approach to the biblical books, and the division into sections/subsections. This is a book to study, not an entertaining narrative or easy bedtime reading, but then this is not its purpose.
I used this textbook as an adjunct to a New Testament seminary course I took online via distance education, and I greatly helped me in the weekly online discussions with other participants. The textbook assigned for that course was by Luke Timothy Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament, Third Edition. This book is different in style and purpose, and spends more time discussing the Jewish and Greco-Roman background to the New Testament, and goes into more details about the content and structure of each biblical book, but spends less time in discussing authorship, provenance, date, text critical issues etc. I found both books to be quite helpful and complementary.
Disclaimer: I am actually just studying theology >for fun<, not for a living, and I work in a completely different area. I still found this book easy to read and understand, though a college degree might be helpful.
All other NT intro books I have seen are either:
1-Shorter, more cursory, and do not discuss controversial issues. Examples include:
"Essential Bible Companion" by Walton, Strauss, and Cooper. shortest (1 page per book),
"Essence of the New Testament" by Towns and Gutierrez, (approx. 6 pages per book avg.)
"Survey of the New Testament" by Gundry, (approx. 19 pages per book avg.).
These are all acceptable for quick reference, bible study groups, and survey level undergrad courses, or
2-High level of detail and scholarly acumen but are written from a "critical" or "liberal" (low view of scripture).