Berding, Kenneth, and Matt Williams, eds. What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Their Writings. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2015.
What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About is a concise evangelical survey of the New Testament written for college and university students. It is written by fifteen New Testament scholars and attempts to be pedagogically friendly. There are numerous sidebars, tables, photographs, and wide margins. Most of the discussion is devoted to the content of the books rather than introductory issues. Such issues (who, when, where, why) are limited to one page. There are no footnotes and very few endnotes (13 for the entire book).
Since this is a second edition, one might ask how this version differs from its predecessor. Unfortunately, no indication is given in the volume itself as to what has been changed, added, or removed. But there are some obvious differences. The first edition was softcover and the second is hardcover. The first edition contained 240 numbered pages whereas the second has 333. The additional pages seems to be devoted primarily to an additional chapter on the formation of the New Testament canon and the addition of two appendices (there are actually three appendices but one is an index that was included in the first volume but not as an appendix). The content itself looks to be about the same, although there are a few cosmetic changes such as placing lists in colored boxes and resizing pictures, etc. The authors have also added a brief outline for each book.
There is much to like about this volume. It is succinct, theologically conservative, and well-packaged. It generally does well with what it sets out to do. My criticisms are fairly minor. For one, I did not care for the heading (used in the 2nd ed.) “Carefully Crafted Verses from . . . “ . Apparently what is meant here is a listing of key verses. If so, why not say so? Are the other verses not “carefully crafted”? I also wish that the listing of key words and concepts at the end of the chapter were alphabetized. One of the appendices, “Key New Testament Themes,” is merely a reproduction of the same list contained in the book discussions. This appears to be unnecessary. The space would be better utilized in providing a brief glossary of some of the key terms or a Scripture index.
However, these criticisms should not deter one from considering this volume as a basic and introductory work on the New Testament.
I am thankful to Kregel for providing the review copy utilized in this unbiased review.