- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: B&H Academic; 2nd ed. edition (August 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805444823
- ISBN-13: 978-0805444827
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, Second Edition 2nd ed. Edition
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About the Author
Craig L. Blomberg is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary and holds a Ph.D. in New Testament from Aberdeen University in Scotland. His previous works include the volume on the Gospel of Matthew in the New American Commentary series.
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Top Customer Reviews
The work is divided up in 5 sections: Historical Background for Studying the Gospels; Critical Methods for Studying the Gospels; Introduction to the Four Gospels; A Survey of the Life of Christ; and Historical and Theological Syntheses.
Blomberg works through the critical issues methodically. The eye for detail, the insightful exegesis, and the delightful prose all make this work hard to surpass as an introduction and survey. It truly is a "one-stop" shopping textbook. I expect to turn to it repeatedly throughout the years for the incredible amount of information packed into its 400 pp. In many senses it serves to function as an ultra-condensed commentary in certain parts.
Blomberg seems to be rare in the scholary field as his work has not alone a commitment to excellence in scholarship, but also a passion to communicate the gospel today. He often points out reasonable application that the text might offer us. He seems as if he is able to worship as he writes and teaches. May his tribe increase!
One improvement could have been further discussion and explanation of geographical pointers and significance. Blomberg treats the topic in just a couple of pages and then continues on.
All in all, this is an excellent volume, and deserves a wide readership.
Special thanks to India of Broadman & Holman for a review copy of this book.
Over a year ago, I noted that Craig Blomberg's Jesus and the Gospels is the single best book on... well... Jesus and the Gospels. I also noted that a new edition would be coming out later that year, which I'm now happy to review. My feelings regarding the book haven't changed at all over time. I'm just as excited about it now as I was when I first read it 10 years ago.
The book is divided into 5 main sections: Historical Background for Studying the Gospels, Critical Methods for Studying the Gospels, Introduction to the Four Gospels, A Survery of the Life of Christ and Historical and Theological Synthesis. Each section can be read on their own and out of order, though of course it is helpful to take the material in the order given. The book is "textbookish," which shouldn't be surprising since it was written as a textbook. Blomberg does a phenomenal job of weaving through debates in a concise but informative manner, along with giving suggestions for further reading. He offers his opinions when there are differing options, but he represents other viewpoints well and doesn't force his reading on the text.
I'll select two sections to highlight. First, his opening section on the historical background is extremely helpful, especially for those who have little knowledge of the culture and historical circumstances in which Jesus was born, lived and died. Whether Blomberg's discussing the Maccabean Revolt or the religious groups in 1st century Israel (Pharisees, Sadducees, etc), the reader walks away with a clear understanding of the major players and events that form the backdrop of the Gospels. And- this is very important- you won't find yourself nodding off like you did in ancient history class (or was that just me?).
Second, Blomberg's Survey of the Life of Christ functions as a wonderful mini-commentary on the Gospels. Blomberg deals with issues of historicity and harmonization (perhaps a bit more than I would), as well as offering thoughts on each episode in the life of Christ as seen in the Gospels. I'm consistently impressed with just how much information is fit into a relatively short space, with attention given to distinctives in each Gospel, interpretive options and short, but crucial, exegetical notes. You won't have all your questions answered in this section, but you'd be surprised just how many are.
There are probably a few places where I disagree with Blomberg on matters of interpretation, but honestly I can only think of 2 off the top of my head. 1) Blomberg sees Jesus' death as happening in 33AD, whereas I lean (ever so slightly) to a 30AD date. 2) I don't think the Temple "clearing" (Blomberg's preferred term) found in John 2 is a separate event from the one seen toward the end of the Synoptic Gospels. That's it. These aren't exactly the issues denominations divide over. Like I said, I'm sure there's probably more, but that's all I can came up with at the moment.
There will be some who own the 1st edition and will be wondering if they need to get the 2nd edition. I'm not sure you need to run out and buy it right away if you own the 1st, but I'd make room in my budget to update it at some point. And if you don't own this book in any editon, you should. It would be helpful if this book existed in paperback in order to drop the price a bit. If it were a tad cheaper, I could see this book used in a church class (as it is, it certainly could be, I just know people in my church will struggle with the thought of dropping $30 on a book).
So who would benefit most from this book? Honestly, pretty much anyone can. Laypeople will find this book an accessible guide to Jesus and the Gospels. The only section that may not interest most laypeople would be the Critical Methods chapter, but it wouldn't be because it's over their head. Pastors and teachers couldn't ask for a better book to help them in their personal study and preparations to teach the material. As I've said in the past, I've been using this book for years and see absolutely no reason to stop now. Simply put, I've yet to find a guide as reliable as Blomberg or a book as well-written.
This is simply a superb book, well organized and well written. And the great thing is that it includes everything--and I do mean everything--you will need to start studying the bible.
Blomberg gives you a brief sketch of the history of the New Testament era, for example, and he explains the various types of religions and philosophies current during Second Temple Judaism. He details all the main points, such as, that "Jewish boys were sent to school (usually in a synagogue)...from ages five to twelve" (p 69). Memorization was key to their culture.
Most people really want explanations of the various scholarly arguments about the bible, and Blomberg supplies this extremely well. In a few clear pages he outlines the history of biblical studies, and then explains what form, redaction, and source criticism, etc., are. There are a number of other books that do this. But Blomberg adds a section on problems with, say, form criticism, such as "the continuing presence of eyewitnesses" (p 95) so that you immediately have broad picture of the theory and its problems.
Each one of the gospels has its own chapter, and Bloomberg gives a superb summation of what we know about each gospel, its author, when it was written, the theology, and all the major arguments about the gospel.
For example, a number of early church fathers said Matthew wrote his gospel first in either Hebrew or Aramaic. Blomberg points out that "one fourteenth-century Hebrew manuscript of Matthew shows some evidence of being not just a translation of canonical Greek text but reflecting certain independent rendering of an older Hebrew tradition' (p 155). Could it have been this earlier version of Matthew written in either Aramaic or Hebrew? Tantalizing, isn't it? At any rate, the summations about the gospels will give you a clear, easy to understand synopsis of current debates about each gospel.
What is also really invaluable is Blomberg's list of books at the end of each chapter. He thoughtfully separates them into books good for the beginner, the intermediate scholar, and the advanced student of the bible. With those lists you can delve more deeply into whatever subject you are most intrigued by.
One very, very small caveat: I disagree with Blomberg about how Gnosticism coincided "with the birth of Christianity" (p 37). Later, Blomberg does point out that we have no evidence whatsoever to suggest there were any Gnostics at the time the gospels were written.
On the contrary; the earliest evidence dates the Gnostics to second century Gnostics like Basilides, which is also the earliest mention of them by Christians. Liberal scholars like Pagels are certain the Gnostics formed an alternative, and what's more, a much better Christianity. Pagels et al are completely unconvincing when it comes to dates, however. There is no reason to date any school of Gnosticism to the same era as the gospels, and huge amounts of evidence to argue against it. (see Petrement, "A Separate God").