My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Review: Engaging the New Testament: A Short Introduction for Students and Ministers

Engaging the New Testament: A Short Introduction for Students and Ministers Engaging the New Testament: A Short Introduction for Students and Ministers by Miguel G Echevarría
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the tagline says … this is a “short” Introduction to the New Testament … although if there is anything new here for ministers, that would be a surprise. The first three (3) chapters provide some groundwork to how the books of the New Testament were selected (very briefly) and how the order of the books work in relation to each other to provide a better understanding of the whole … with the introduction focused on how this is a different type of commentary (it is not really much of a commentary at all in my mind) to chapter 2 (after the lengthy intro) providing the canonical context and connection to “essential elements from the Old Testament until chapter 3 opens a brief discussion on the interpretive approach that highlights the concept of the New Testament being the Old Testament fulled. It is a completely orthodox approach that even champions a very early Gospel date based strictly on the “prediction” of the temple destruction (despite the consensus being more weighted toward after). Regardless, it is still a pretty solid approach to the New Testament that few christians would oppose as not legitimate.

The bulk of the work begins in Chapter 4 with a look at the Gospels themselves … after a brief summary of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, it dives into each with a section of its own. Each section is organized into a quick analysis of the style and purported intent of the book, followed by a brief outline and overview (with commentary that is focused on the thematic cohorts found there in … making this the largest part of the section for a given book), canonical function (how it fits and the reason for the order within the canon), then authorship, dating and audience (very rudimentary treatment here) before closing out the chapter with suggested resources. All in all, it is well organized and good, if very basic information on the New Testament; although I am incline to disagree with some of the provided exegesis/commentary (my objection is not really that material to the over all message). So … Not only do you get a solid overview of the Gospels, but you also get a pretty good summary of the what and why of Paul’s letters and the rest of the New Testament (including the catholic/universal and John tradition letters) that is largely responsible for how christians actually live their faith … so in that regard, it is actually a good resource to non-christians as well if they are even remotely interest in understanding the scared text of that religion.

The chapters and sections in this work are:

1. Introduction
2. The Canonical Context for the New Testament
3. The Hermeneutics of the New Testament Authors
4. The Gospels and Acts
5. The Pauline Epistles
+ The Pastoral Epistles
6. The Catholic Epistles
+ The Johannine Epistles
7. Revelation

Appendix 1: The Relationship between the Gospels
Appendix 2: The Test of the New Testament
Scripture and Ancient Writings Index
Subject Index

Some of the other points that really got my attention are:

In whatever form it was inherited, Christians were sufficiently aware of its essential contents to discern writings that were in accordance with the normative teachings of the church.

According to Bruce Metzger, “These three criteria (orthodoxy, apostolicity, and consensus among the churches) for ascertaining which books should be regarded as authoritative for the Church came to be generally adopted during the course of the second century and were never modified thereafter.”

Regardless of its anonymous authorship, Hebrews has historically been situated in the Pauline corpus. In the present order, its placement as the last of the letters associated with Paul serves as a link between the Pauline epistles and the Catholic epistles, encouraging believers to persevere in following Jesus into the kingdom, which saints have long desired to inherit.

By the first century AD, there were various translations of the Hebrew Scriptures and recensions of prior Septuagint versions with which Christian communities would have been acquainted. Some were more formal (word-for-word), others more dynamic (thought-for-thought).

In sum, typology opens our eyes to how Old Testament shadows find eschatological fulfillment in the New Testament. We see these in terms of associations between Old Testament types and New Testament antitypes. Most types are realized in the person and work of Jesus.

Mark’s use of Latinisms—such as lepta (two Roman coins, Mark 12:42), praetorium (governor’s home, 15:16), legion (cohort of Roman soldiers, 5:9), and centurion (Roman soldier, 15:39)—points to a Roman audience familiar with such terminology.

Turning water into wine recalls Isaiah 25:6–7, where wine symbolizes the arrival of the messianic age, when God will restore his broken people.

As it stands, Acts provides a canonical bridge between the Gospels and the Epistles. First, Acts shows that the Spirit who empowers Jesus to proclaim the arrival of the kingdom in the Gospels also empowers the apostles to preach the kingdom in Acts.

The placement of Romans at the head of the Pauline corpus testifies to its primacy in the letter collection. In this position, it sets the literary and theological expectations for the remainder of Paul’s epistles. […] He adds, “Not only was it the longest letter, but also it exposited Paul’s theology with greatest detail, showed less historical particularity (except chapter 16), and seemed to provide the final and most profound formulation of Paul’s theology.”

A more contextualized reading of Romans sees works of the law as the boundary markers of Judaism that traditionally distinguished those inside the covenant from those on the outside, such as circumcision, Sabbath observance, and dietary laws. But according to Paul, all that distinguishes God’s people is faith in Jesus Christ.

The Romans are instructed to, among other things, welcome and assist deaconess Phoebe (16:1–2) and be watchful of those who cause divisions among believers (16:17).

The designation “Catholic” suggests that the letters of James, Peter, John, and Jude are intended for a universal audience, whereas Paul’s letters are intended for specific audiences. […] Whereas Paul’s epistles designate the addressees, the Catholic epistles designate the author of the respective letters.

John’s apocalypse is analogous to Jewish texts like 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch, where God “reveals” eschatological events through a series of inspired visions.

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#EngagingTheNewTestament #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.