In my previous posts I talked about how I came to be convinced to write my textbook on the New Testament, back in the early to mid 1990s. Once I agreed to do it, the first step was to decide exactly what *kind* of Introduction to the New Testament I wanted it to be. This was a problem, because I was pretty sure that the kind of introduction that I would like to write would not be the kind of introduction that college professors would like to use.
There were already lots of textbooks on the New Testament available at the time. I myself had used two different ones over the years, one that was filled with all sorts of jargon and assumptions that made it way over my students heads (that one didn’t last! but for years it was one of the most widely used on the market); the other one was very sensitive to the theological interests of the authors and, presumably, of the students, and that was very heavy on using each chapter to *interpret* each of the biblical books, to unpack what they meant.
There was one other kind of textbook that was out there: that was a book that approached the writings of the New Testament from a literary perspective rather than a theological/interpretive perspective. The literary approach used various forms of literary analysis to explain how each of the writings worked as pieces of literature.
I was not interested in writing a book like any of these. I did not want my book to presuppose lots of views of scholarship or use scholarly jargon; I did not want it principally to summarize what each book of the New Testament said or to explain at length its theological meaning; and I did not want to focus exclusively or even primarily on literary methods of analysis so as to treat these books as pieces of literature. I wanted, instead, to focus on a rigorously *historical* approach to the New Testament. And I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in that.
A historical approach is, of course…
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