From the Academic section

Starting New Testament Study

Learning & Doing

by Bruce Chilton and Deirdre Good


Price: £12.99
Publisher:SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published:22 October 2009
New Testament introductions abound, with many publishing houses feeling the need to add to their number. This book, is noteworthy both for its brevity and also its approach.
The book is split into four chapters which follow two introductions: the first dealing with issues of critical methods and their impact on interpretations; and the second looking at dictionaries, translations, commentaries and websites.
The first chapter looks at the context in which Jesus found himself. There are discussions on life in rural Galilee, and the main towns which are to be found in the Gospels. Herodís reign (and complex family tree) follows on before focus turns to the temple. The second chapter has to do with Paulís life and letters, including those held to be written by another hand. The third chapter considers the gospels (including the gospel of Thomas), and looks at the background, oral tradition and collections of sayings which predate them. Finally there is attention paid to catholic and apocalyptic writings.
Each chapter ends with a series of exercises, which encourage the reader to deal with the text of the New Testament itself and begin the work of interpretation. There are also some suggestions for further reading.
The book is short and as a result the authors simply give their views on matters such as authorship and dating without much by way of discussion. Whilst this is an appropriate approach for an introductory text, it should be noted that not all suggestions enjoy widespread support (such as Timothyís authorship of Colossians and Ephesians). It is certainly a book which would raise some conservative eyebrows!
This would be a good book to use alongside other introductions. Itís approach is fresh, the bibliographies useful and the illustrations welcome. Whilst it may not always engage with wider opinions, the book does represent a good counterweight to other more conservative introductions and the end of chapter questions will help tease out the implications of differing approaches.

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Reviewer: Chris Moore   (27/07/10)
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