Dec 10, 2010

Review of The New Testament in Antiquity

Burge, Gary M., Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green. The New Testament in Antiquity. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

The study of biblical backgrounds in general and a focus on the backgrounds of the New Testament in particular has received great academic interest in recent years. The 2009 publication of The New Testament in Antiquity is both a part, and the fruit, of that general interest in backgrounds. The book’s three authors teach New Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School.

The book itself is an amalgamation of New Testament introduction, survey, and of course backgrounds. The quality of production is excellent with numerous pictures, maps, and diagrams. The text is comprehensive in scope, touching upon most major issues related to the study of the New Testament. But at slightly less than 500 pages, many of the more technical discussions are more introductory than exhaustive. What The New Testament in Antiquity does well is expose the reader to the major issues. In the preface, the authors state four goals which can be summarized as (1) academically rigorous, (2) accessible to students, (3) emphasis on the ancient context of the New Testament, and (4) responsive to confessional commitments of the evangelical tradition. To this end I believe that The New Testament in Antiquity has met its self-imposed goals rather well. Helpful features include questions for discussion and an introductory and advanced bibliography at the end of every chapter.

A few years ago, I evaluated several books focusing on New Testament backgrounds to use as a required text for a course that I was teaching. I ultimately settled on a text which I thought was pretty solid. But if I were to teach that same course today, I would replace that text with The New Testament in Antiquity.


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