Introducing the New Testament—Thompson, Green, Achtemeier

Introducing the New Testament—Thompson, Green, Achtemeier January 15, 2021

Marianne Meye Thompson, Joel B. Green, Paul J. Achtemeier. Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology (Eerdmans, 2001). 636 Pages; List Price, HB $48.00.

Book Description: Introducing the New Testament is an outstanding guide to the writings of the New Testament for readers ranging from Bible students to those approaching the Christian Scriptures for the first time. Written by three leading Bible specialists, this book discusses in a clear and balanced way the New Testament’s literature, its message, and the issues raised by a careful reading of its pages. Wonderfully readable and well supplied with maps and photographs, this volume is both an ideal textbook for courses covering the New Testament and a superb introduction for general readers wanting authoritative, straight-forward instruction on the writings of the New Testament.

Unlike other New Testament introductions that are primarily concerned with historical-critical issues or with what scholars have said, this book gets directly to the business of explaining the New Testament’s background, content, and theology. The authors do not presume that readers need to be familiar with scholarly debates about the New Testament, nor do they assume those debates have necessarily raised the most important issues. Instead, this book is aimed at putting the message of the Christian Scriptures back within the reach of general readers. Although informed by the current scholarship in the history, traditions, and literature of the New Testament, this book is primarily designed to induct readers of the New Testament into sensitive appreciation and serious awareness of its major figures and concerns.

After explaining the nature of the New Testament and the world in which it was written, the authors thoroughly discuss each of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The content and essential message of these ancient works are described in simple but dynamic language that reveals why they continue to inspire and challenge readers today. Separate chapters also explore the types of literature found in the New Testament, the life and teachings of Jesus, Paul’s life and world, and the formation of the New Testament canon. In addition, numerous sidebars offer a wealth of fascinating and highly relevant background information that helps modern readers more fully grasp biblical themes. No other work on the New Testament is so accessible and enjoyable to use.

from the Author: 

Why is this textbook handy?

Joel Green says

I’m not sure that any New Testament introduction can be called “handy”! Typically, these are hefty textbooks, and ours is no exception. We have attempted to make our book easy to use, though. For example, our table of contents follows the canonical order of the New Testament books, each chapter follows a similar outline, each chapter provides an outline of the New Testament book(s) in question, and so on. And it’s a genuinely co-authored book. This means that, even though most chapters were drafted by one of the three authors, each chapter was worked over, sometimes significantly, by the others. We think the result is a well-balanced, readable introduction. 

What would you say are this textbook’s distinctive features? 

Our book’s most distinctive feature is marked already in the subtitle, which draws attention to the literature and theology of the New Testament. Of course, we do not reject historical questions! However, we recognize the degree to which so much of what has passed for “introductory issues” in New Testament studies is based on learned guesswork. Accordingly, we bring into the foreground the New Testament materials themselves, including a discussion of important theological questions they raise. Secondly, the three of us involved in the project come to the New Testament with genuine appreciation and respect for the New Testament. We bring faith and criticism together in ways not always seen in textbooks like this.

Nijay’s Notes:

This is one of the best graduate-level introductions, written by three power-house scholars. The authors fuse historical study with literary analysis. The major downside of this textbook is that it is 20 years old. By now it deserves a second edition, but Achtemeier passed away. Still, this is one to collect for the reference shelf. 

**UPDATE**: Joel Green has informed me that a second edition is in the works thanks to the help of former Fuller faculty (now at Oxford) Dr. David Downs. 


About the Author(s): Marianne Meye Thompson (Phd Duke University)  is George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Among her books is The Promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament, published by Westminster John Knox Press. 

Joel B. Green (Phd University of Aberdeen) is associate dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies and professor of New Testament interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of more than forty-five books, including Hearing the New Testament; coauthor of Introducing the New Testament; and editor of the New International Commentary on the New Testament series.

Paul J. Achtemeier (1927-2013) was Herbert Worth and Annie H. Jackson Professor of Biblical Interpretation Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He served as the president of both the Society of Biblical Literature and the Catholic Biblical Association. He authored a number of books, including 1 Peter (Hermeneia), and was the general editor for the Harper Bible Dictionary.


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