The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation

The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation

The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation

The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation

Synopsis

"Johnson is extraordinarily successful in leading the reader into the New Testament texts themselves... Imaginative in conception, clear in presentation, and lively in style, the book deserves the wide use it is sure to enjoy for some time to come." -- Abraham J. Malherbe

Excerpt

I have written this book for those who want to understand the origin and shape of the New Testament writings but are unable to find a comprehensive introduction that is neither repellingly technical nor appallingly trivial. I have called it an interpretation rather than an introduction for the simple reason that most volumes going by the name of introduction are either handbooks devoted to the communication of information concerning a narrow range of scholarly issues or popularized versions of conventional scholarly wisdom for college students. In contrast to both, I have tried to provide a genuine interpretation of Christianity's earliest writings. By so doing I draw the reader into the most important critical questions concerning their understanding. In this sense, every interpretation is also an introduction. By no means is every introduction an interpretation.

The organization of this book, its argument, and the choice of topics have all been dictated by the desire to make these writings intelligible and alive for the contemporary reader who wants to meet and understand them more than scholarly discussions of them. I have considered all the critical issues pertinent to the understanding of the writings, but I have gone beyond presenting a consensus of scholarly opinion. The reader will find in these pages a single "reading" of the evidence from beginning to end— my own. My approach to the writings and the critical issues is independent. It is not, I think, idiosyncratic. I have learned more than I can ever credit to my teachers and to the reading of other scholars. But in this book I advance my own understanding of the New Testament in its origin, in each of its parts, and as a collection. Sometimes I agree with the majority of scholars; sometimes I disagree. I have tried to indicate the reasons for both. As in every attempt to deal with the whole of a subject within a reasonable space, much has been eliminated or abbreviated. More advanced readers should recognize in my sometimes elliptical remarks a thoughtful response to critical scholarship.

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