History of New Testament Research - Vol. 1

History of New Testament Research - Vol. 1

History of New Testament Research - Vol. 1

History of New Testament Research - Vol. 1


Stressing the historical and theological significance of pivotal figures and movements, William Baird guides the reader through intriguing developments and critical interpretation of the New Testament from its beginnings in Deism through the watershed of the Tubingen school. Familiar figures appear in a new light, and important, previously forgotten stages of the journey emerge. Baird gives attention to the biographical and cultural setting of persons and approaches, affording both beginning student and seasoned scholar an authoritative account that is useful for orientation as well as research.


When the writers of the New Testament put down their pens, they could not have imagined the amount of industry their works would generate. This small collection of twenty-seven short books was to become the object of an incredible effort of research. To the modern observer, the New Testament appears like a tiny treasure buried under a mountain of scholarly debris. The attempt to uncover its riches has enlisted the arduous labor of scores of persons employing a multitude of methods, like a crowd of excavators using everything from trowels to bulldozers.


The history of New Testament research is a long and complex story. In this volume and its companion I intend to focus on one segment of that chronicle: the study of the New Testament from the period of the Enlightenment through the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. This historical segment has an integrity of its own. It encompasses the era of the modern world—the era in which the scientific method of inquiry has been applied to all fields of learning. Intoxicated by the new intellectual spirit, biblical scholars took up the same tools that linguists and historians were using in the study of other ancient documents. This was a time of the secularizing of Scripture, a time when no ground was recognized as holy and when biblical critics, approaching the New Testament, did not stop to take off their shoes.

The modern segment of the history of New Testament research, of course, belongs to a larger story. Before the canon of the NT was complete, scholars had begun to assess its meaning. The writer of 2 Peter says . . .

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