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The Writings of the New Testament: An…
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The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation (edition 1999)

by Luke Timothy Johnson (Author)

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960122,355 (4.11)3
"Luke Timothy Johnson offers a compelling interpretation of the New Testament as a witness to the rise of early faith in Jesus. Critically judicious and theologically attuned to the role of the New Testament in the life of the church, Johnson deftly guides his reader through a wealth of historical and literary description and invites critical reflection on the meaning of these ancient writings for today. The third edition is carefully updated and includes new student-friendly format and features, including a new design and study and reflection questions. Other resources for teachers and students, including different suggestions for teaching from or alongside the textbook, are available under the other tabs on this page" -- Publisher description.… (more)
Member:Strangeleewarmed
Title:The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation
Authors:Luke Timothy Johnson (Author)
Info:Fortress Press (1999), Edition: Revised, 694 pages
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The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation by Luke Timothy Johnson

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University professors have a generalized reputation for being either dull or overly interested in minutiae that most people don't care about. Many embrace this reputation, writing articles and books that only specialized scholars will appreciate. This is particularly true in the field of religion and the study of the Bible. A few, though, buck the trend, writing books that are aimed at the general public which incorporate both learned research and good instincts about what questions most people have.

Luke Timothy Johnson, professor at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, has long been one such academic writer, producing books for a wide audience of those curious about Christian origins and the faithful within the church. Given his focus on the New Testament, one of his crowning achievements is a single volume overview: "The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation." The book has been especially popular in college classrooms, going through multiple printings and encouraging the second edition.

Johnson tries to carefully balance scholarship and accessibility in the volume, usually with much success. In particular, the chapters which offer guided readings and basic context and analysis of each of the New Testament books are excellent. They are brief without being cursory, they are intelligible and intelligent, and they follow Johnson's promise to present each work as a cogent whole. (Similar volumes by other scholars are usually limited because of their often fragmentary approach to the New Testament writings.)

Less successful, however, is Johnson's presentation of his overarching framework for approaching the New Testament writings. Although he begins with a good, if obvious, question – Why were these books written? – his answer, which centers on preserving communal memory among the first Christians, leads to unnecessary section of three chapters which detail the experiences of Christians between the time of Jesus in the writing of the New Testament. While Johnson's reconstruction of the time is admirable, the effort gives much more background than most readers will want or need; worse, the section precedes all of the chapters on the specific New Testament writings, which means that if a reader gets bogged down in the section, they likely will never read the excellent parts of the volume.

As such, the book overall is a mix of the very good with the very frustrating. The cultural introduction is good; the thematic introduction is unnecessary. The wise and faithful reading of the scriptural books is an excellent resource for students of the New Testament and Christians in general. ( )
  ALincolnNut | Jan 10, 2011 |
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"Luke Timothy Johnson offers a compelling interpretation of the New Testament as a witness to the rise of early faith in Jesus. Critically judicious and theologically attuned to the role of the New Testament in the life of the church, Johnson deftly guides his reader through a wealth of historical and literary description and invites critical reflection on the meaning of these ancient writings for today. The third edition is carefully updated and includes new student-friendly format and features, including a new design and study and reflection questions. Other resources for teachers and students, including different suggestions for teaching from or alongside the textbook, are available under the other tabs on this page" -- Publisher description.

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