Book Review: The New Testament in Antiquity By Gary M. Burge, Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green (Zondervan, 2009) -- By: Beth M. Stovell
Book Review: The New Testament in Antiquity
By Gary M. Burge, Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green (Zondervan, 2009)
Beth M. Stovell is a Ph.D. candidate in New Testament studies at McMaster Divinity College. She will be an instructor at McMaster Divinity College this summer and will become Assistant Professor in Biblical Studies at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, this fall. Beth currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario, with her supportive husband Jon and her two children, Elena and Atticus.
Written by three experienced Wheaton professors, The New Testament in Antiquity represents a helpful introductory textbook for the study of the New Testament for undergraduate and beginning seminary students. The authors’ goals for this textbook are fourfold: to be academically rigorous, to be accessible to students, to focus on the ancient context of the New Testament, and to remain “responsive to the confessional commitments of the evangelical tradition” (9). Chapters 1 through 4 provide background into the historical, cultural, and sociological contexts of the New Testament. Chapters 5 through 7 focus on the life, story, and teachings of Jesus. Chapters 8 through 26 provide a book-by-book analysis of the New Testament. Chapter 27 provides a conclusion on the issues of preservation and communication of the New Testament.
Thus, the book begins by explaining the necessity of contextualizing the historical and cultural settings of the New Testament because of the methodological presuppositions each reader brings to the text. Chapter 2 describes the historical setting of the New Testament, from the post-exilic period of 539-332 BC to the second Jewish revolt in AD 132-135. Chapter 3 examines the geographical and religious contexts of Jesus’ life and ministry as well as the influential literature of the time. Chapter 4 provides a similar perspective on the mitigating factors of the Mediterranean world of the Apostle Paul. This chapter includes introductions to ancient Mediterranean society, government, religion, philosophy, and rhetoric.
Chapter 5 grapples with the complicated topic of the study of the life of Jesus, including brief discussions of source and form criticism. Chapter 6 moves chronologically through the story of Jesus, while chapter 7 deals specifically with Jesus’ teachings.
Chapters 8-26 provide a book-by-book analysis of the entire New Testament. Some books are grouped together because of their overarching similarities (e.g., Ephesians and Colossians, Philippians and Philemon, the Pastoral Letters, 1 and 2 Peter and Jude). Though some of these sections are fairly short, they build on the background material in the previous seven chapters. This allows the authors to engage deeply with the material ...
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