Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TrinJ 20:1 (Spring 1999) p. 85
Craig L. Blomberg. Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1997. viii + 440 pp. $24.99.
Early in my own study of the Bible I realized that detailed analysis was absolutely necessary. As time went by, older and hopefully wiser, I concluded that synthesis was also mandatory. Clearly, both analysis and synthesis are crucial skills to be learned in graduate theological education. The former can exist without the latter, but the latter cannot be done well apart from the former. In the present volume, Craig Blomberg (Professor of NT, Denver Seminary) shows himself to be adept in both. The readable synthesis encountered in this book manifests wide reading, painstaking analysis, wise selection of subject matter, and a lucid writing style.
The comprehensive scope of this book arises from the author’s own teaching experience and needs. Blomberg found no single textbook which covered all the major areas of gospel studies, so he set out to write one with five parts: (1) historical background; (2) critical methods; (3) introduction to each gospel; (4) life of Christ; and (5) historical and theological synthesis. The first three parts are each treated in approximately sixty pages, while part four is slightly longer than the first three combined. Part five is the briefest, amounting to less than fifty pages. One should probably not fault the author for the length of part four, since the life of Christ is arguably the broadest topic covered in the book.
Blomberg has incorporated several features which facilitate the use of the book as a text. His own wide reading is represented by footnotes, and each chapter lists sources for further study which are categorized as introductory, intermediate, and advanced. Specialized bibliographies are also cited when they are available. Questions for review conclude each chapter. There are maps and many charts which aid in clarifying complex issues and key biblical texts. Extensive indices for authors, subjects, and scriptural texts are also included.
Part one handles the historical background of the gospels in three chapters which discuss the political, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. While there is much to cover here, I was disappointed in the lack of discussion of geography. There is less than a page on this topic (pp. 54–5), and a footnote suggests only two resources for additional study, the Hammond and Macmillan Bible atlases. But this subject is important in introducing students to the gospels, since the life of Jesus occurred in a land much different than that directly experienced by most Western students. Geography is obviously important for the understanding of narrative prose texts, but it also enhances the understanding of poetic texts a...
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