Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
FM 12:2 (Spring 1995) p. 72
Introducing the New Testament, by Joe Blair. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1994. Pp. 237.
Joe Blair, chairman of the Department of Religion at Houston Baptist University, has written a New Testament survey with the self-imposed limitation of being “nontechnical.” The end result is not only very readable but also provides a thorough introduction to both the documents of the New Testament and the issues of interpretation surrounding them. His primary understanding of the New Testament is “as the supremely important witness to Jesus Christ,” the study of which “is a primary step to knowing who Jesus is and what he is about” (p. 1). The book is divided into five parts, the latter three focusing on the New Testament text itself. Part 1 consists of three chapters on the formation of the New Testament canon, the inspiration of Scripture, and New Testament interpretation. In this third chapter, after briefly summarizing the traditional categories of the historical-critical method, Blair refreshingly turns to a discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit, Whom he declares is “the ultimate help in interpreting the revelation of God” (p. 20).
Part 2 provides a helpful discussion of the formative influences on the New Testament era from early Jewish history through the intertestamental period. These include a discussion of Jewish, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman influences, summaries of the major philosophies, and brief descriptions of the various Jewish groups prominent during the first century. A commendable feature of Blair’s work is his focus on the content of each New Testament book. This forms the bulk of each chapter but is preceded by a brief introduction to the traditional critical questions concerning each book. He briefly introduces the scholarly discussions surrounding questions of authorship, date, and audience. An example is his treatment of the Pauline authorship of the pastorals. While stating the arguments of those who deny their authenticity, Blair also provides the answers to those arguments given by scholars who defend Paul’s authorship and concludes that “after all considerations, much weight of evidence exists for for direct or indirect authorship of Paul for these three letters” (p. 178).
While strictly technical matters of New Testament scholarship are avoided, readers who desire to pursue these questions further are given brief bibliographies at the end of each chapter. An index is provided along with useful tables and maps. A welcome inclusion is the glossary of names and technical terms, which will be
FM 12:2 (Spring 1995) p. 73
very helpful to students newly initiated in New Testament studies at this level. Blair has succ...
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