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A Theology of the New Testament Paperback – September 2, 1993
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"Professor Ladd has produced a book which is massive in its intensity, vigorous in its approach, and attractive in its motivation" Theology "One of the most valid and valuable, comprehensive and coherent, contributions to our understanding of New Testament theology in recent years" Methodist Recorder "... up-to-date detailed bibliographies and helpful subject index. The language has also been made more 'inclusive'. For over twenty years this standard conservative work has met the needs of many theological students. As a result of the changes it will undoubtedly continue to meet the needs of many more. It is a good basic tool." Ministry Today --This text refers to the Digital edition.
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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.
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.
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.