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An Introduction to the New Testament / Edition 2

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Overview

An Introduction to the New Testament focuses on "special introduction" that is historical questions dealing with authorship, date, sources, purpose, destination, and so forth. This approach stands in contrast to recent texts that concentrate more on literary form, rhetorical criticism, and historical parallels—topics the authors don’t minimize, but instead think are better given extended treatment in exegesis courses. By refocusing on the essentials, An Introduction to the New Testament ensures that the New Testament books will be accurately understood within historical settings. For each New Testament document, the authors also provide a substantial summary of that book’s content, discuss the book’s theological contribution to the overall canon, and give an account of current studies on that book, including recent literary and social-science approaches to interpretation. This second edition reflects significant revision and expansion from the original, making this highly acclaimed text even more valuable. • A new chapter provides a historical survey examining Bible study method through the ages. • The chapter on Paul has been expanded to include an analysis of debates on the “new perspective.” • The discussion of New Testament epistles has been expanded to form a new chapter. This new edition will help a new generation of students better grasp the message of the New Testament.

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Editorial Reviews

Review of Biblical Literature
'...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.'
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310238591
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Edition description: Updated & Expanded
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 784
  • Sales rank: 131,495
  • Product dimensions: 7.63 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

D. A. Carson (Ph D, University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of over 50 books, including the Gold Medallion Award-winning book The Gagging of God and An Introduction to the New Testament. He is general editor of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns and Worship by the Book. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

Douglas Moo (Ph D, University of St. Andrews) is the Blanchard Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. His work centers on understanding the text of the New Testament and its application today. He has written extensively in several commentary series, including the NIV Application Commentary, Pillar Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentary, and the New International Commentary on the New Testament.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2

Matthew

Contents

That Matthew was a skilled literary craftsman no one denies. Disagreements over the structure of this gospel arise because there are so many overlapping and competing structural pointers that it appears impossible to establish a consensus on their relative importance.

If we consider the structure of the book as a whole, then, apart from several idiosyncratic proposals there are three dominant theories.

1. Some have detected a geographic framework that is related to Mark's gospel (see chap. 1 on the synoptic problem). Matthew 1: 1-2: 23 is the prologue, and it is tied to 3: 1-4: 11 (Jesus' preparation for ministry) to constitute an introduction parallel to Mark 1: 1-13. Matthew 4: 12-13: 58 finds Jesus ministering in Galilee (cf. Mark 1: 14-6: 13). This ministry is extended to other locales in the North (Matt. 14: 1-16: 12; Mark 6: 14-8: 26), before Jesus begins to move toward Jerusalem (Matt. 16: 13-20: 34; Mark 8: 27-10: 52). The confrontation in Jerusalem (Matt. 21: 1-25: 46; Mark 11: 1-13: 37) issues in his passion and resurrection (Matt. 26: 1-28: 20; Mark 14: 1-16: 8).

This sort of analysis rightly reflects the broad chronological development of Jesus' ministry and preserves some geographic distinctions. But it is based entirely on a selection of thematic considerations and does not reflect on the literary markers that Matthew has left us. Precisely because, with minor alterations, this sort of analysis could be applied to any of the Synoptic Gospels, it tells us very little of the purposes that are uniquely Matthew's.

2. Following suggestions made by Stonehouse, Lohmeyer, and Krentz, Kingsbury has argued for three large sections, tightly tied to Christological development. The first he titles "The Person of Jesus Messiah" (1: 1-4: 16); the second, "The Proclamation of Jesus Messiah" (4: 17-16: 20); and the third, "The Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Messiah" (16: 21-28: 20). Immediately after the two breaks come the decisive words a-po-to-te (apo tote, "from that time on"), signaling progress in the plot. The last two of the three sections each contains three summary passages (4: 23-25; 9: 35; 11: 1; and 16: 21; 17: 22-23; 20: 17-19).

Though this outline has gained adherents (e.g., Kümmel), it suffers from several weaknesses. It is not at all clear that a-po-to-te apo tote) is so redactionally important for Matthew that his entire structure turns on it: after all, Matthew uses it at 26: 16 without any break in the flow of the narrative. One could argue that there are four passion summaries in the third section, not three (add 26: 2). At both structural transitions, Matthew may have been more influenced by his following of Mark than by other considerations. In any case, the outline breaks up the important Peter passage in Matthew 16 in an unacceptable way. Even the Christological development is not as clear as Kingsbury alleges: the person of Jesus (section 1) is still a focal point in sections 2 and 3 (e.g., 16: 13-16; 22: 41-46); the proclamation of Jesus can scarcely be restricted to section 2, for two of the discourses (chaps. 18 and 24-25) and several important exchanges (chaps. 21-23) are reserved for the third section.

3. The most frequently proposed structures turn on the observation that Matthew presents five discourses, each of which begins in a specific context and ends with a formula found nowhere else (lit. "And it happened, when Jesus had finished saying these things, that ..." [Matt. 7: 28-29; 11: 1; 13: 53; 19: 1; 26: 1]. It becomes attractive to link narrative with discourse in five pairs. Bacon proposed just such a scheme, calling the five sections "books." Book 1 deals with discipleship (narrative, chaps. 3-4; discourse, chaps. 5-7); book 2 with apostleship (narrative, 8-9; discourse, 10); book 3 with the hiding of the revelation (narrative, 11-12; discourse, 13); book 4 with church administration (narrative, 14-17; discourse, 18); and book 5 with the judgment (narrative, 19-22; discourse, 23-25). This leaves Matthew 1-2 as a preamble and 26-28 as an epilogue. Bacon himself thought that this was Matthew's self-conscious response to and fulfillment of the five books of Moses.

Few today think that Matthew intended any link between these five sections and the five books of Moses: proposed connections are just too tenuous. The ties between each narrative and discourse pair are not always very strong, and any outline that relegates the entire passion and resurrection narrative to the status of an epilogue must be seriously questioned.

But something of the scheme can be salvaged. That Matthew reports extensive teaching of Jesus outside the five discourses is no criticism of the outline: the fivefold sequence of narrative and discourse does not assume that Jesus is not portrayed as speaking in the narrative sections. He may do so, even extensively (e.g., chaps. 11, 21). The point, rather, is that the five discourses are so clearly marked, from a literary point of view, that it is well-nigh impossible to believe that Matthew did not plan them. Chapters 1-2 do constitute a preamble or prologue: all four canonical gospels preserve some kind of independent opening, before turning to the first step taken in common, namely, the ministry of John the Baptist (in Matthew, beginning at 3: 1). Certainly Matthew 26-28 must not be taken as a mere epilogue. But it is just possible that Matthew thinks of these chapters as the climactic, sixth narrative section, with the corresponding "teaching" section laid on the shoulders of the disciples (28: 18-20) and therefore open-ended.

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Table of Contents

Contents
Preface...9
Abbreviations...13
1. Thinking about the Study of the New Testament...23
2. The Synoptic Gospels....77
3. Matthew....134
4. Mark....169
5. Luke...198
6. John...225
7. Acts...285
8. New Testament Letters...331
9. Paul: Apostle and Theologian...354
10. Romans...391
11. 1 and 2 Corinthians....415
12. Galatians...456
13. Ephesians....479
14. Philippians....498
15. Colossians...516
16. 1 and 2 Thessalonians...532
17. The Pastoral Epistles...554
18. Philemon...588
19. Hebrews....596
20. James...619
21. 1 Peter...636
22. 2 Peter...654
23. 1, 2, 3 John...669
24. Jude....688
25. Revelation...697
26. The New Testament Canon...726
Scripture Index...744
Name Index...758
Subject Index...765
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First Chapter

An Introduction to the New Testament---Second Edition

People have been reading and studying the New Testament for as long as its documents have been in existence. Even before all twenty-seven canonical New Testament books were written, some found the interpretation of the available documents more than a little challenging (see the comment of 2 Pet. 3:15--16
regarding Paul). A distance of two millennia, not to mention changes of language,
culture, and history, have not made the task any easier. The torrential outpouring of commentaries, studies, and essays across the centuries, all designed to explain---or in some cases, explain away---the New Testament documents,
makes the task both easier and harder. It is easier because there are many good and stimulating guides; it is harder because the sheer volume of the material, not to mention its thoroughly mixed nature and, frequently, its mutually contradictory content, is profoundly daunting to the student just beginning New Testament study.
This chapter provides little more than a surface history of a selection of the people, movements, issues, and approaches that have shaped the study of the
New Testament. The student setting out to come to terms with contemporary study of the New Testament must suddenly confront a bewildering array of new disciplines (e.g., text criticism, historical criticism, hermeneutics), the terminology of new tools (e.g., form criticism, redaction criticism, discourse analysis,
postmodern readings), and key figures (e.g., F. C. Baur, J. B. Lightfoot, E. P.
Sanders). Students with imagination will instantly grasp that they do not pick up
New Testament scrolls as they were dropped from an apostolic hand; they pick up a bound sheaf of documents, printed, and probably in translation. Moreover,
the text itself is something that believers and unbelievers alike have been studying and explaining for two millennia.
The aim here, then, is to provide enough of a framework to make the rest of this textbook, and a lot of other books on the New Testament, a little easier to understand.
Chapter One
Thinking about the
Study of the New
Testament
PASSING ON THE TEXT
At the beginning of his gospel, Luke comments that 'many others' had already undertaken to write accounts of Jesus (Luke 1:1--4). Although some scholars have argued that there was a long period of oral tradition before anything substantial about Jesus or the early church was written down, the evidence is against such a stance: the world into which Jesus was born was highly literate.1 From such a perspective, the existence of the documents that make up the New Testament canon is scarcely surprising.
These documents were originally hand-written on separate scrolls. There is very good evidence that the writing was in capital letters, without spaces, and with very little punctuation. Printing was still almost a millennium and a half away, so additional copies were made by hand. In theory, this could be done by professional copiers: in a scriptorium, one man would read at dictation speed,
several scribes would take down his dictation, and another would check each copy against the original, often using ink of a different color to make the corrections.
This kind of professional multiplying of copies was labor-intensive and therefore expensive. Most early Christian copies of the New Testament were doubtless done by laypeople eager to obtain another letter by Paul or a written account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That brought the price down: Christians were investing their own time to make their own copies, and they were not having to pay large sums to professional scribes.
On the other hand, the private copy made by an eager and well-meaning layperson was likely to include more transcriptional errors than copies made and checked in a scriptorium.
How the New Testament canon came together is briefly discussed in the final chapter of this book. For the moment it is sufficient to observe that as the numbers of copies of New Testament documents multiplied, three formal changes were soon introduced. First, the scroll gave way to the codex, that is, to a book bound more or less like a modern book, which enabled readers to look up passages very quickly without having to roll down many feet of scroll. Second,
increasingly (though certainly not exclusively) the capital letters (scholars call them 'uncials') gave way to cursive scripts that were messier but much more quickly written. And third, because the early church, even within the Roman
Empire, was made up of highly diverse groups, it was not long before the New
Testament, and in fact the whole Bible, was translated into other languages.
These 'versions' of the Bible (as translations are called) varied widely in quality.2
There were no copyright laws and no central publishing houses, so there were soon numerous Latin versions, Syriac versions, and so forth, as individuals or local churches produced what seemed necessary for their own congregations.
Today the printing press churns out thousands of identical copies. When each copy is written by hand, however, if the work is of substantial length, each copy will be a little different than all others because the accidental mistakes introduced by successive copying will not all congregate in the same place. The challenge of producing a copy that is perfectly true to the original soon multiplies. A
slightly later Christian, making a copy of a copy, spots what he judges to be mistakes in the manuscript before him and corrects them in his fresh copy. Unfortunately,
however, it is possible that some things he thought were mistakes were actually in the original. For instance, it is well known that there are many grammatical anomalies in the book of Revelation. The reason for this is disputed; there are three major theories and several minor ones. But a later copyist might well have thought that errors had been introduced by intervening copyists and 'corrected'
them to 'proper' grammar---thereby introducing new errors.
Two further 'accidents' of history and geography have helped to determine just what material has come down to us. First, just as the Roman Empire divided between East and West (stemming from the decision of Emperor Constantine to establish an eastern capital in what came to be called Constantinople), so also did the church. In the West, because it was not only the official language of
Rome but also tended in time to squeeze out Greek as the lingua franca, Latin soon predominated in the church. Initially, there were many Latin versions, but toward the end of the fourth century, Damasus, Bishop of Rome, commissioned
Jerome to prepare an official Latin version that would be widely distributed and sometimes imposed throughout the churches of the West. This Latin version,
revised several times, became the Vulgate, which held sway in the West for a millennium. By contrast, Greek dominated in the East, in what eventually became the Byzantine Empire. Inevitably, Greek manuscripts were used and copied much more often under this linguistic heritage than in the West, until
Constantinople fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453. Many Eastern scholars then fled West, bringing their Greek manuscripts with them---a development that helped to fuel both the Reformation and the Renaissance.
Second, the material on which ancient books were written (i.e., their equivalent of paper) decomposed more readily in some climates than in others. The most expensive books were made of parchment, treated animal skin. Higher quality parchment was called vellum. More commonly, books were made of papyrus, a plant that grew plentifully in the Nile Delta. Papyrus has the constituency of celery or rhubarb. Long strips could be peeled off, pounded, and glued together to make sheets.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    Great for a reliable survey of the NT...

    I'm doing research for the formation of the NT canon, and this book has been a great tool for a brief survey on the subject. It is very fair to the historical realities, and does not come across as bias or ill-reasoned.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2010

    A little too dense...

    While I agree with the others that this book is great for an in-depth study of the New Testament, it was a little too much for an introductory course. I am a little confused why the title has the word "Introduction" in it because it is much more than that. I took my first Seminary Class at Liberty from January-March 2010 and this was one of the required readings. I am not going to lie though, because I did not do much reading from this book. I am a slow-reader to begin with because I feel when I read too fast that I do not absorb the information and this book was way too long for me to even begin to have enough time to read all of it. It is a really great resource for me though if I ever have questions about the New Testament in the future. I believe I will use this book as more of a reference than reading it straight through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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