There are, of course, a countless number of New Testament survey volumes available to the biblical student. But rarely does one come into publication that has a unique approach and format. Such is the case of What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Their Writings. It is the editorial product of Kenneth Berding and Matt Williams, both holding PhDs and both professors at Biola University, and includes contributions from fifteen separate New Testament scholars.
The distinctive approach is that the material focuses on the author first and the information second. In other words the material is background oriented. The very first chapter, “Walking in the Sandals of a First-Century Jew,” sets the pace. We are introduced to what it was like to live in that first-century of Christianity.
The singular format is derived from the arrangement of the material. Typically, New Testament surveys arrange the material book-by-book and in the order of Matthew through Revelation. However, What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About arranges the books by author (hence a hint at the title). Thus, information on the book of Acts follows information on the Gospel of Luke and all of John’s writings are grouped together and so on.
Each chapter begins with a one-page summary answering the questions who, when, where and why and then launches in to the pertinent material from the point of view of the author. Each chapter ends with “Key Words and Concepts for Review,” emphasizing what the biblical writer cared about.
A couple of other observations: First, this is a reference book. Although one could read this volume through cover to cover, it is most beneficial if one is doing study on a particular book or author. Second, this book is a textbook – a refreshing breakthrough in the sometimes monotonous procession of New Testament facts. I would estimate that this would be the textbook of the future for first-year Bible college students. I would encourage Bible college professors who teach New Testament survey to utilize this volume as their primary textbook.
The final word is that this volume is excellent and quite beneficial to anyone without a seminary degree. But it would also be a worthwhile reference for anyone with a thirst for biblical knowledge. Regardless of your theological educational level, you will add knowledge and understanding of the New Testament.
Disclaimer: I was provided this book by Kregel Publishing for a fair and honest review.