Introducing the New Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message

Written by D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo Reviewed By Kevin Paul Oberlin

Appropriately titled, Introducing the New Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message contains nearly identical table of content headings with the original fuller treatment by D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005). Andy Naselli, who has a PhD from Bob Jones University and another from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School under D. A. Carson, has masterfully condensed the original 784-page work into 176 smaller pages. Unlike the larger work, which serves seminary students or trained pastors and theologians particularly well, the shorter edition provides a quick reference guide to the NT for a much wider audience.

While it is no easy task to abridge complex theological arguments, Naselli successfully condenses information compiled by two acclaimed NT scholars, first, by employing simple questions. Below are various questions used throughout the Short Guide:

  1. Content: What is the book about?
  2. Author: Who wrote the book?
  3. Genre: What style of literature is used?
  4. Date: When was the book written?
  5. Place: Where was this book written?
  6. Audience: To whom was this book written?
  7. Purpose: Why was this book written?
  8. Contributions: What does the book contribute to our understanding of the faith?

Second, Naselli effectively utilizes simple numbered lists to organize answers to the above list of questions in a very straightforward and helpful manner. The Short Guide, then, is in essence a very detailed sentence and paragraph outline to key introductory questions of NT books.

The Short Guide also includes chapters on “Thinking about the Study of the New Testament,” “The Synoptic Gospels,” “The New Testament Letters,” and “Paul: Apostle and Theologian.” These chapters usefully provide quick, accurate, and helpful explanations. Like the chapters on individual NT books, the chapter “Synoptic Gospels” also outlines information by questions and numbered list answers. In less than three pages, Naselli answers how the Synoptic Gospels came into being, including discussion on oral traditions and form criticism, written sources and source criticism, and final composition and redaction criticism. In just under three pages in the chapter “New Testament Letters,” the Short Guide describes pseudonymity and pseudepigraphy, including introductory observations, issues of internal and external evidence, and contemporary theories. The chapter “Paul: Apostle and Theologian” sketches out a historical background, analysis, and response to the “New Perspective” on Paul and Judaism in merely two and one-half pages.

The Short Guide also has at least two helpful additions from the original work. First, the Short Guideprovides lists of questions for review and discussion of each chapter. This makes it all the more useful for the non-graduate level classroom, such as an undergraduate NT survey course. Second, instead of combining all bibliography material together at the end of each chapter, the Short Guide categorizes recommended resources by level of reading difficulty (introductory, intermediate, and advanced).

Other features of the Short Guide include a few tables and maps, a Scripture index, and a general index. At $12.99, this resource will prove beneficial not only for the seminary student or pastor who is preaching through a NT book, but for any student of the Bible.

Kevin Paul Oberlin

Bob Jones University

Greenville, South Carolina, USA

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