Recommended NT Resources, Part 2: General and Reference

Recommended NT Resources, Part 2: General and Reference October 15, 2014

george-cattermole-the-scribe (Cross-posted at Times&Seasons) Many of these can be purchased in paper, kindle, or from Logos or Accordance. (I’m a big Logos user.) As with all my recommendations, take them with a grain of salt. I neither fully endorse nor vouch for everything said in these, but you will certainly learn and grow by reading them.

Samples are often available from Amazon or Google books, and in some cases I’ve linked to others here or in the past.

If you missed it, part 1 is here.

General

Cultural Context

The world of the NT is extremely different from our own. It’s not just the words that we need translated, because we will inevitably weigh and understand them from within our own experiences and cultural perspective.

 

The Bible of the NT?

For many of the first Christians, “the Bible” meant not the Hebrew texts, but the Greek translation(s) of it, called the Septuagint or LXX. Indeed, many of the NT citations of the OT (heavily obscured in our LDS KJV, another reason to pick up a second translation) match the Greek LXX, not the Hebrew. Sometimes the changes are significant.

 

Texts and Contexts 

If you want to be a NT scholar, there is a crap ton of background literature you must become familiar with, both Jewish and Greco-Roman. Sometimes scholars become expert in just one area of this background, spending their entire lives studying it. An overview of all of these can be found in Craig Evans’ Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature. One book includes relevant selections from all of these in a verse-by-verse quasi-commentary, called Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study

Below is a selection of three major sources, skip if not interested.

  • Josephus was a Jewish general and historian contemporary with the latter half of the NT. He is also a major contemporary source, writing in Greek about Judaism, history, and the OT. Josephus has long been known and translated into English. We all know that Joseph Smith and companions sang A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief while in Carthage jail, but did you know they also read aloud from Josephus?  (Watch Lincoln Blumell’s presentation on Joseph and Josephus here.)
    • Steve Mason, Josephus and the New Testament
      • Mason is a Josephus scholar, and this is meant for laypeople with an interest, and includes maps.
    • If you’d like to read Josephus, the older archaic translation by William Whiston (1667 – 1752) is in public domain for easy googling. Otherwise, Josephus: The Essential Works is probably your best option.

Reference

These work best in electronic form (Logos or Accordance), because you can do a search on a verse reference and find everything that cites it. Or click on a word and have it open up in the dictionaries that have a reference on it.

Part 3 is coming, and there will likely be a short part 4 as well.

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