Introducing the New Testament (REV 99) by Drane, John [Hardcover (2001)]

by Drane

Hardcover, 2001



Call number



Fortres, Hardcover(2001) (2001)


The 2nd revised edition is a comprehensive survey, with chapters on the world of the first Christians, the life and teaching of Jesus, composition of the Gospels, origins and growth of the Early Church, life, mission and letters of Paul, Revelation, formation of the New Testament and how it has been interpreted and used by later generations.

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LibraryThing member Layman
John Drane's Introducing the New Testament is impressive for what it is and isn't. Drane has managed to combine the readability of the more narrative New Testament Histories with the scholarly depth of an Introduction to the New Testament. And instead of ending up with the weakness of both, he
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merged their respective strengths. As a result, Introducing the New Testament is highly readable and very informative, even as to issues such as the Synoptic Problem and the dating and authorship of the Gospels and other New Testament documents.

As with a New Testament History, Drane opens up by providing background material on the broader world out of which Christianity grew, including the Greek heritage, the mystery religions, Judaism, and Palestine. He then narrates through Jesus' birth and early years, his ministry, his death, and the resurrection. There is an excellent side discussion on dating Jesus' birth.

In the next section, Drane spends more time exploring Jesus' precise message. The focus of the discussion is, appropriately, Jesus' declaration of the Kingdom of God. After this able discussion, Drane moves on to focusing on the four gospels themselves. I was impressed with the sophistication of many of his points regarding authorship, dating, and historicity. Though not presented with the footnotes and scholarly references that an Introduction would, it is obvious that Drane is conversant with a wide range of opinions and is writing from a high level of knowledge and understanding. One of the outstanding features of this section is his side discussion on "Identifying the authentic words of Jesus." Therein he identifies the main criteria of testing the historicity of Jesus's sayings, and identifies the problems and limitations with such an endeavor. According to Drane, the entire enterprise is premised on the problematic assumption that there was a high level of creativity in the early Church.

Drane next moves on to the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world, including an excellent treatment of the dating of Acts. He also covers Paul the Apostle's activities, with solid discussions of each of his letters. There is a helpful discussion of the early church's recognition of the New Testament and first-rate discussions of the remaining books of the Bible (especially James and Hebrews).

Though the serious scholar may miss the footnotes and citations that commentaries and New Testament Introductions provide, the beauty of this book is that it delivers much the same sophistication and information of those works to the layperson. And it does so in an entertaining manner that does not get stale or tedious.
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