Today’s the day! The official release day for The A to Z of the New Testament is here. I am told, and you may have heard as well, that sales on Amazon on the official release day of a book are what makes the most difference in their algorithm when it comes to identifying and promoting something as a new bestseller. Want to find out if it is true? Buy your copy today and let’s see what happens! If you want it immediately, it is available for Kindle and in other ebook formats. Christianbook.com has the paperback at a remarkably discounted price. I hope there will be an audiobook version in the not too distant future.
As with all my past books, what I’m most eager for is that the book be read. If you missed it, I wrote a guest post about the book and why I wrote it for the Eerdmans blog. Here’s part of what I wrote there. Please do click through and read the whole thing:
I have long been dismayed that you can spend your whole life going to church and never learn about the things we cover in an introductory New Testament course. The material isn’t so difficult. In fact, when I lived in the UK I learned that teenagers can study these subjects at school. If British teens can do it then someone who spends decades going to church can—and should. The challenge is that this stuff doesn’t make for a good sermon. So I’m not blaming pastors for not preaching sermons on this. Sunday school teachers haven’t ever learned these things and so how should they teach them? There are plenty of textbooks out there, but most work through the New Testament book by book in a way that might be good if you use the textbook in a required course, but isn’t engaging for someone who is learning on their own or who is part of a reading group or Sunday school class.
The A to Z of the New Testament takes you through the material in a different way. The book has 26 chapters, as you might expect. But it doesn’t just try to cover everything alphabetically. Each chapter starts with a particular thing in the New Testament that is noteworthy, or should be noteworthy yet you probably never noticed it. They start with something puzzling, or show that something is puzzling that seemed straightforward. From there each chapter meanders through that subject and related ones. Along the way you learn about the solutions to problems that academics have come up with. Lots of people think that scholars come along and take the Bible, which is clear and straightforward, and maliciously try to complicate things. The truth is that the text is full of things that are puzzling. Puzzling because it is hard to determine what a word means. Puzzling because a word seems clear but it is hard to imagine the author meant what that word usually means. Puzzling because these two texts each seem clear on their own but seem to contradict one another. Puzzling because the text seems clear but what it seems to say is not what you’ll typically hear preached from pulpits.
“The New Testament is full of challenges, but that’s not bad news. Lots of things that are worth doing are challenging.”
Many of them seem difficult until someone comes along and provides a tutorial on how to go about it. The A to Z of the New Testament provides that. It is my effort to make learning the key methods and results of the academic study of the New Testament as fun and easy as is possible. That’s why the book contains attempts at humor, references to popular culture, and other such things. Those aren’t just asides for entertainment. We learn through analogies. We remember jokes when we forget other things. Making it fun helps you learn, and helps you remember what you learned.
I care enough about students learning to invent games and sing songs (which you can find on YouTube although whether you will want to is another question). That isn’t a natural qualification for too many things, but it might be just what was needed in order to write a book like this one. I hope you’ll read it and let me know.
You can also get the book via the Eerdmans website, your local bookstore, and anywhere else. If they don’t have it, asking them to order it helps support your local bookstore as well as me as an author. By the way, did you see the banner on the landing page of the newly redesigned Eerdmans website?
Also, did you miss my AMA on Reddit? It’s still there and so you can see what others asked, and it is never really too late to ask your own question. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that you’re always welcome to ask me anything here on my blog as well. If you read my blog regularly I’m particularly eager for you to read the book, because I’m confident that even with all the blog posts I’ve written over the years, I’ve still managed to include things that you’ll find new and interesting in the book. I hope you’ll read it and let me know.
One last request. Whenever you read the book, whether right away or at some point in the future, please take the time to write a review. It isn’t just sales that make a difference. Reviews also do. Thank you in advance for buying, recommending, and/or reviewing my book, and thank you again and always for reading my blog. Your comments, whether frequent or occasional, encourage me more than you probably know.