This volume claims to be a special introduction to the writings of the New Testament. It is a special introduction in the sense that its primary focus is on such traditional historical issues as authorship, date, sources, purpose, destination, and so forth. It is thus not as concerned as other New Testament introductions with issues more directly related to exegesis, such as literary form, rhetorical criticism, and historical parallels. It does however; contain a brief summary of the content of each New Testament document, a brief account of current studies on it, and its theological contribution to the canon. The book is quite substantial, containing 781 pages; it is an updated revision of an earlier version published in 1992 by Carson, Moo, and Leon Morris. Carson and Moo divided the chapters originally written by Morris between them for this new edition, as well as revised and updated their own work. In this new volume the chapter on Paul contains an analysis of the current debate on the new perspective. A new preliminary chapter provides a brief history explaining how Christians moved from the reading of the first hand written documents of the New Testament to contemporary study of the New Testament. There are a total of twenty six chapters. An introductory chapter entitled Thinking about the Study of the New Testament is followed by a chapter on the Synoptic Gospels. In the next twenty three chapters each New Testament document is discussed in its canonical order. In addition to the new chapter on New Testament letters, there is a separate chapter entitled Paul, Apostle and Theologian. The final chapter is devoted to the canon of the New Testament. Each of the chapters dealing with the New Testament writings contain sections on content, author, provenance, date, destination, purpose, text, the writing in recent studies, and the contribution of the writing. Although both authors admit to being evangelical, they have tried to remain as neutral and objective as possible. They present a sampling of the various viewpoints in the current literature, sometimes trying to suggest a fresh way of looking at an issue. But they tend to argue, often in new ways and with new evidence, for more traditional stances on issues of authorship and date. They generally date the New Testament writings as early as possible. In this reviewer's opinion, the section on pseudonymity and pseudepigraphy (337-350) is one of the more enlightening and convincing discussions in the book. They perceptively point out that, although there certainly were pseudonymous writings circulating at the time of the New Testament, none were letters. The authors thus maintain that the historical Paul, in one way or another, that is, with perhaps varying degrees of collaboration with others, is the author of all of the letters attributed to him. Similarly, Peter is the author of both letters attributed to him, despite their quite different characters. James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem community, is the author of the letter attributed to him, and so forth. With regard to the view of some scholars that the original audiences of the New Testament writings would have known which ones were pseudonymous and fully understood this, so that they were not in any way deceived, the authors conclude that the search for parallels to justify the view that the intended readers of some New Testament documents would have understood them to be pseudonymous, so that no deception took place, has proved a failure. The hard evidence demands that we conclude either that some New Testament documents are pseudonymous and that the real authors intended to speak the truth and that pseudonymity is not attested in the New Testament (350). Another noteworthy feature of this new edition is the section on the new perspective in understanding Paul's relation to Judaism (375-385). God has chosen Israel, and Jews at the time of Paul believed that that gracious choice was the basis for their salvation. They did not have to keep the law to be saved, they were already saved. They obeyed the law in order to maintain their covenantal status. After pointing out several problems with covenantal conduct based on law, the authors conclude with their own views that in Paul there is a key contrast between human doing and human believing as the means of accessing God's salvation and contrary to advocates of the new perspective, justification by faith was an important component of Paul's gospel from the beginning (385). This reviewer finds most of the argumentation for the more conservative and traditional views quite balanced, fair, and judicious. Indeed, their views seem to be in accord with an apparent trend in recent New Testament research that is at least open to if not supportive of many of these views on historical issues. The authors hold that Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians were most likely written from a Roman imprisonment. However, it may be more likely that they were written and sent together from a Caesarean imprisonment, all three carried and delivered by Tychicus, as other New Testament scholars proved. The view of this introduction that the apostle John authored both the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation may be the most questionable. To be sure, the authors make a valiant argument for at least a possibility of this, but the question remains. For the most part this introduction is very up to date on recent research. But since it was published in 2005, it was not able to take advantage of significant recent work on some important issues currently at hand. This special introduction can be highly recommended. With its very careful, keenly response, 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. It will prove to be welcome support for those tending toward more traditional views on historical issues involving the writings of the New Testament. While it may not convince others, it may require them to reconsider, refine, and redefined their views.
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