The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament, Volume One: The Individual Witnesses

Overview

All too often, argues Ben Witherington, the theology of the New Testament has been divorced from its ethics, leaving as isolated abstractions what are fully integrated, dynamic elements within the New Testament itself. As Witherington stresses, "behavior affects and reinforces or undoes belief."

Having completed commentaries on all of the New Testament books, a remarkable feat in itself, Witherington now offers the first of a two-volume set on the theological and ethical thought...

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The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament, Volume One: The Individual Witnesses

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Overview

All too often, argues Ben Witherington, the theology of the New Testament has been divorced from its ethics, leaving as isolated abstractions what are fully integrated, dynamic elements within the New Testament itself. As Witherington stresses, "behavior affects and reinforces or undoes belief."

Having completed commentaries on all of the New Testament books, a remarkable feat in itself, Witherington now offers the first of a two-volume set on the theological and ethical thought world of the New Testament. The first volume looks at the individual witnesses, while the second examines the collective witness.

The New Testament, says Ben Witherington, is "like a smallish choir. All are singing the same cantata, but each has an individual voice and is singing its own parts and notes. If we fail to pay attention to all the voices in the choir, we do not get the entire effect. . . . If this first volume is about closely analyzing the sheet music left to us by which each musician's part is delineated, the second volume will attempt to re-create what it might have sounded like had they ever gotten together and performed their scores to produce a single masterful cantata."

What the New Testament authors have in mind, Witherington contends, is that all believers should be conformed in thought, word and deed to the image of Jesus Christ--the indelible image.

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Editorial Reviews

Amy-Jill Levine
"By insisting that theology be placed in conversation with ethics, Witherington offers numerous insights on the necessary intersection of faith and works, church and society. He and I may disagree on the particulars of Jewish tradition and women's roles in antiquity, but I have learned much from his canonically comprehensive, evangelically committed, historically informed and engagingly presented way of doing theology."
Craig A. Evans
"Ben Witherington's The Indelible Image is no ordinary theology of the New Testament. From start to finish it is creative and insightful. The entire approach is refreshing, based on an appreciation of the distinctive voices that make up what we might call the theological choir of the early church. Witherington has given proper place to voices not often heard, such as those of James, Jude and Peter. Beginning students and veteran scholars alike will appreciate this remarkable achievement. I give it my highest recommendation."
Mikeal C. Parsons
"Over the course of his academic career Ben Witherington has gone against the stream of increasing specialization in biblical studies, producing commentaries on every document in the New Testament. As a result, Witherington is no 'theological' jack-of-all trades; to the contrary, he has demonstrated his mastery over a variety of subdisciplines in New Testament studies. With The Indelible Image, volume 1, Witherington once again defies the communis opinio that New Testament theology and New Testament ethics must, of necessity, be treated in isolation from each other. Rather, drawing on his previous exegetical work, Witherington establishes that New Testament faith and practice—theology and ethics—are inextricably intertwined and, in order to understand the message of the New Testament, must be treated whole cloth. The Indelible Image is a model of 'theological exegesis' at its stunning best and confirms Witherington's reputation as one of evangelical Christianity's most thoughtful and prolific authors."
Matthew Levering
"Fresh from writing major commentaries on each of the New Testament's twenty-seven books, the Methodist exegete Ben Witherington III here sets forth the theological and ethical vision put forward by each of these books. With superb detail, Witherington presents the unified vision of the New Testament: God in Christ communicates his holiness to his people. Learning about God and learning about holiness thus cannot be separated. While Witherington emphasizes the strict necessity of historical-critical tools for every good reading of Scripture, the ecclesially formed reader will note with satisfaction that his key insights are classically
Methodist."
Darrell Bock
"To discuss the theology and ethics of the New Testament is to dive into a vast ocean of theological reflection from many angles. It would be easy to get lost at sea. That is where a good navigator and cruise director are essential. Ben Witherington takes up both roles and steers us on a solid course through the array of ideas the New Testament treats.
He does so with skill, clarity and an eye on what is important. He also notes what dangers lurk in taking a wrong course. In sum, here is a solid introduction to how theology and ethics work together in the New
Testament. Enjoy the tour and linger in spots. It will be worth it."
Richard Bauckham
"Ben Witherington is a skilled historical exegete who has, probably uniquely in our generation, pursued his passion for the theological and ethical message of the New Testament through commentaries on every one of the New Testament books. Now he has given us a summation that is even more unusual—a New Testament theology that allows to every one of those books a voice that really counts. A magnificent climax to Witherington's work."
Mikeal C. Parsons
"Over the course of his academic career Ben Witherington has gone against the stream of increasing specialization in biblical studies, producing commentaries on every document in the New Testament. As a result, Witherington is no 'theological' jack-of-all trades; to the contrary, he has demonstrated his mastery over a variety of subdisciplines in New Testament studies. With The Indelible Image, volume 1, Witherington once again defies the communis opinio that New Testament theology and New Testament ethics must, of necessity, be treated in isolation from each other. Rather, drawing on his previous exegetical work, Witherington establishes that New Testament faith and practice--theology and ethics--are inextricably intertwined and, in order to understand the message of the New Testament, must be treated whole cloth. The Indelible Image is a model of 'theological exegesis' at its stunning best and confirms Witherington's reputation as one of evangelical Christianity's most thoughtful and prolific authors."
Richard Bauckham
"Ben Witherington is a skilled historical exegete who has, probably uniquely in our generation, pursued his passion for the theological and ethical message of the New Testament through commentaries on every one of the New Testament books. Now he has given us a summation that is even more unusual--a New Testament theology that allows to every one of those books a voice that really counts. A magnificent climax to Witherington's work."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830838615
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 8/24/2009
  • Series: The Indelible Image Set
  • Pages: 856
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 2.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Bible scholar Ben Witherington III is Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the MDiv degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a PhD from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

Witherington has also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell. An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, he has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has also led tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications, and is a frequent contributor to the Patheos website.

Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline on outlets like the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
The Overture: The Grand story in Miniature
Prologue: Blueprints and Bylaws
1 Jesus: The Alpha and Omega of New Testament Thought
2 Paul the Paradigm Setter
3 The Kinsmen and Their Redeemer; Peter and His Principles
4 The Anonymous Famous Preacher
5 Beloved Theology and Ethics
6 One-Eyed Gospels
7 The End of All Things and the Beginning of the Canon
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An Indelible Mark

    Witherington sets out in the first of his two-volume project to investigate each individual New Testament witness through integrative theological and ethical analysis. In doing so, he seeks to correct a lamentable weakness of New Testament studies: the separation of theology and ethics, belief and behavior, into two different spheres, with ethics taking backseat to theology. In contrast to this bifurcation, Witherington demonstrates the organic relationship and blending of theology and ethics in each New Testament book, ultimately converging in Christology: the contemplation of and conformation to the indelible image of Christ.

    The Indelible Image is immense both in sheer size and quality of theological-ethical reflection on the New Testament. Written in clear, simple prose, the book reads like a commentary and may be best used for this purpose. A comprehensive Scripture index will guide the reader to find relevant passages, although sometimes the reader will be surprised by passages Witherington chooses to pass over (like John 10). Little rationale is given for this selectivity, and one hopes it is not based on theological preference, especially since it seems that Witherington dismisses Reformed theological perspectives too quickly. Despite this suspicious selectivity, Witherington demonstrates a fitting balance between scholarly exegesis and practical reflection. Footnotes are sparse, which motivates readers to run to his commentaries (and other suggested reading lists at the end of each chapter) for more articulate arguments and insight.

    Even though Witherington deals with each New Testament voice on its own, common themes continue to appear, most notably the interrelationship and interdependence of theology and ethics, at the heart of which is the person and work of Jesus Christ. These and other common themes among all New Testament writers prime the pump for the next volume of the Indelible Image series due out in April, focusing on the collective New Testament witness. You won't want to miss it! This first volume has left an indelible mark on our understanding of the theological and ethical thought world of the New Testament.

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