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In my just-released introduction to the New Testament published by Abingdon1 I find myself trying to make several contributions that make this something of a new and serviceable approach. First, I proceed in canonical order, dividing the book into three parts (the Gospels and Jesus, Acts and the writings of Paul, General Letters and Revelation) beginning each chapter with laying out from three to six crises or background issues that help the reader appreciate the contexts in which the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were written. Nearly sixty crises and contextual issues are outlined overall, and I feel this grounded approach to the New Testament writings helps today’s readers better understand and interpret the writings regarding crises and contexts—both ancient and contemporary. Each chapter then proceeds to an overview of the literary features of each text, its message, and a brief section helping today’s readers engage the text meaningfully. And, the fourteen chapters work well within a semester-long course, graduate or undergraduate.

A second distinctive feature of this book is that rather than belaboring the secondary literature and the multiplicity of approaches to important issues taken by scholars, references to theories are given in general terms, and readers are encouraged to do their own sleuthing into the primary and secondary literature. In support of that venture, relevant biblical texts behind the various interpretive riddles are displayed clearly, giving readers an inductive impression of the issues involved, inviting them to make judgments for themselves based on their own inquiries.


Originally posted on The Bible and Interpretation web site: