As I’ve already suggested, the quality of the production of this Introduction to the NT, and also its DVDs is second to none. It’s excellent. This post will be mainly about the 37 lessons on the DVDs. The first, and lasting, impression is there is a lot of telling, and not enough showing, by which I mean that while some of this material is filmed in Israel and elsewhere in the Lands of the Bible, there is not a lot of pointing out and talking about the sites themselves. The discussion instead is about the books of the NT or the issues in the books of the NT, but not really about the relevance of the archaeological data itself, in various important cases. This is too bad because the first part of the subtitle of the book is History. There could have been a lot more showing and less telling. Especially notable by its absence is the Cradle of early Christianity, namely the various NT and early Christian sites in Turkey. This is too bad as much could have been done there and said on the sites. Take for instance the discussions of the Johannine Literature. We find ourselves at Qumran at the beginning of the Revelation video, with nothing visual or detailed at all about the seven cities mentioned in Rev. 2-3. The discussion of the Gospel of John and the Johannine letters is likewise not focused on the historical setting or context, but on the content of those documents themselves. And often the discussion of the content is excellent– it does the literature and theology bit of the subtitle well. It is a shame it doesn’t do more with the history side of things.And lets talk for a minute about the commentary in the 37 videos. It’s often excellent, but is not for an entry level student in a Christian college beginning to study the Bible. And neither is the Introduction book itself. This material is for the educated lay person who already has familiarity with the NT, for the pastor who has already gone through seminary, for the advanced Bible major at Christian colleges, and in general for the many many readers of Tom Wright’s book already familiar with his main works. I could not see any of this being used as an Introductory textbook at a secular university, or even in the Introductory NT classes in a Christian college. For one thing, it’s much too long and too detailed. So the audience must be those I’ve listed in the first half of that previous sentence, and for them, it will be an invaluable resource again and again.
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