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An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods and Ministry Formation Hardcover – Illustrated, 21 May 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 976 pages
  • Publisher: IVP; illustrated edition edition (21 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844740234
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844740239
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 5.6 x 26.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


DeSilva's book comes as a breath of fresh air to (the) plethora of
New Testament Introductions. -- Craig Smith; Anvil; January 2006

[F]rom a conservative evangelical perspective ... among the best
available and a must buy for any theological library. -- Robert Morgan; Theological Book Review; March 2005

From the Publisher

An outstanding new textbook which integrates scholarship with
application to ministry formation.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am training to be a lay reader and this is one of the recommended course books. I borrowed it from our library before buying. It can only be borrowed for 7 days at a time rather than the standard 4 weeks indicating that it is considered a very popular reference book. It is not a NT commentary book. It covers much more background information and shows how the different books relate back to the Old Testament and introduces basic concepts as and when they appear in the NT books. Interestingly the order of the chapters is not based on the order of the NT books but of the different authors. It looks at what the underlying theme of the book is about, what response it is trying to address.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gildas Sapiens on 19 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover
At 975 pages this introduction to the New Testament is comprehensive. It is supported by an excellent index, itself helpfully supplemented by a scripture index. Tables, charts and photographs are used to superb effect to convey information and the narrative is generally straightforward and readable.

It is a book to treasure and could well usefully grace a reference shelf. As well as a study text it can be used as a reference book, for example, to look up first century Roman Emperors, details of the Herodian dynasty and a myriad of other useful subjects.

But it deserves two criticisms, both illustrated in the following sentence in the introduction to the section on "The Four Gospels and the One Jesus"

"Then we will investigate the currents by which Jesus' sayings and stories about Jesus flowed through the decades of his earthly ministry down to the pools from which the Evangelists drew their living waters"

You might think he was a Victorian novelist; to be fair these fanciful flights of language were few and far between and, therefore, not overly intrusive.

Of more concern, though, are the assumptions, present throughout the text and, in one case, implied in the single sentence quoted above. The extract proceeds on the assumption that the evangelists were beholden years later to written texts and sources and largely ignores the rather obvious possibility that three of the evangelists could draw on being eye witnesses and contemporaries to Jesus' ministry. Whilst he is, of course, perfectly entitled to adopt a view on the dates of authorship of the gospels he discounts consideration of early dates, to which an increasing number of Evangelical scholars are returning.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 26 reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
A Helpful Resource for the Beginning NT Student 19 Sept. 2005
By ASB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
David A. deSilva has risen among the ranks of modern New Testament scholars as a specialist in socio-rhetorical interpretation. In addition to his position as professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary (Ohio), he has authored Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture (the revision of his Ph.D. dissertation from Emory University), Introducing the Apocrypha, the socio-rhetorical commentary on Hebrews titled Perseverance in Gratitude, and several articles and essays. His latest volume, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation, is a hefty contribution to the field of New Testament studies.

In this introduction, deSilva attempts to merge the critical study of Scriptures with the devotional use for pastors and teachers. He clearly states his objectives in his preface as equipping leaders to "(1) more fully engage the critical and prayerful study of the New Testament, and (2) more reliably discern the direction the Spirit would give through these texts for nurturing disciples and building communities of faith that reflect the heart and character of their Lord" (p. 20). Three presuppositions guide deSilva's approach which include being text-centered rather than phenomenon-centered, special attention to the full range of interpretative strategies, and focusing on each text with its direct application for ministry formation. These concerns are reflected in his treatment of each respective book of the New Testament. Along with the typical introductory issues of authorship, date, audience, and purpose he includes a brief commentary of the contents, excurses focusing on specific interpretative approaches (e.g., rhetorical, sociological, feminist, textual criticisms), and he includes application for ministry settings.

The paradigm he employs is the model of "socio-rhetorical interpretation" developed by Vernon K. Robbins (p. 23). He clarifies that socio-rhetorical interpretation is not a new method, but rather it serves as a model for analysis that encourages interpreters to view the text through the full spectrum of exegetical tools. The text of Scripture is like a tapestry of many interwoven textures, and therefore one must explore the various textures of the text. First, he describes the "inner texture," which involves the use of textual criticism, lexical and grammatical analysis, literary analysis, rhetorical criticism, and narrative criticism (p. 24). The second textual level, called "intertexture," attempts to explore how the author utilizes other texts like the Old Testament, Jewish writings, and Greco-Roman writings. The third area of textual investigation relates to the "social and cultural texture" that seeks to locate the historical influences and conditions relating to how the audience would have received the text. Finally, the aims, intentions, and agendas of the biblical writers are examined against the social political climate that gave rise to the texts with an investigation of the "ideological texture" (p. 25). Socio-rhetorical interpretation helpfully integrates a number of exegetical strategies and constitutes a solid interpretative approach. However, some fads that develop in biblical studies are often overly biased, short lived, and exhibit a tendency to marginalize most traditional and conservative interpretations. Just because some exegetical strategies may yield surprisingly new insights, one must continue to compare critically the merits of such interpretations.

Among the throng of New Testament Introductions, deSilva's contribution provides a number of distinctive aspects. His introduction constitutes the first drawn from a thoroughly socio-rhetorical perspective. As such, deSilva consistently offers sociological and cultural insights into the situation behind the text. Consequently, the first 150 pages are devoted to establishing the historical, social, and political environment that produced the New Testament. DeSilva manages to increase the value of his introduction by incorporating sections highlighting various exegetical techniques. Each section focuses on a specific "exegetical skill" (e.g., Historical criticism, Narrative criticism, Rhetorical criticism, Social-Scientific criticism, Intertextuality, Feminist criticism, and Postcolonial criticism) and he demonstrates how that particular skill is used when interpreting a particular passage. DeSilva also succeeds in striking a balance between the academic and practical study of the New Testament. After discussing the technical aspects of authorship, date, genre, structure, he carefully includes a section on the way each book contributes to ministry formation. His work on Hebrews and Revelation were particularly well written.

His work exhibits the marks of critical scholarship evident in both his organization and treatment of the New Testament books. He organizes his chapters in a manner that not only reflects scholarly awareness but also reveals his own position on critical issues. He places Mark prior to Matthew. He groups related works together in successive chapters (i.e., Acts follows Luke, and the Johannine Epistles for John's gospel). He arranges the Pauline epistles according to a chronological rather than an canonical order (Galatians, Thessalonians correspondences, Corinthian correspondences, Romans, Philippians, Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians, the Pastorals). His treatment regarding authorship also reflects his critical affinities. He concludes that Lazarus is a better candidate for the Beloved Disciple and favors the community hypothesis. DeSilva's discussion of Ephesians comes across slightly one sided in the arguments against Pauline authorship. However, he maintains a number of conservative positions concerning a number of Pauline writings. In a way, this Introduction represents the current and often conflicted state of NT scholarship.

All in all, deSilva has produced a very comprehensive and user friendly New Testament Introduction for seminarians. The book itself has an attractive cover, layout, pictures, sidebars, and provides a useful all-in-one source. Students will benefit from the massive examples of varying exegetical techniques and pastoral sensitivity However, it is not very portable due to its size and weight. The work represents a commitment to evangelical principles, but students may want to compare his conclusions with other Introductions and commentaries. As such, I believe this book makes an excellent companion to the New Testament Introduction by Carson and Moo. For the most part, deSilva has managed to produce a lasting contribution to the field of New Testament studies.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A very good reference for the study of the New Testament 7 April 2006
By Paul M. Dubuc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've had the great pleasure of being one of Dr. deSilva's students at Ashland Seminary and the somewhat lesser pleasure of having read nearly every chapter in this book in the process. The main weakness in this book is in the editing. The writing could be more concise and clear in many places. This makes it difficult to read from cover to cover, but presents less of a problem when using the book as a reference. It almost seems as if each chapter was written to stand on its own. Many of the same points are made repeatedly throughout the book as they apply to different books of the New Testament. That said, the book also has many strengths.

At the end of each chapter is a section on "ministry formation" which draws practical lessons for ministry and discipleship based on the previous reading. I found these to be very insightful and the most interesting and valuable parts of the book. The "exegetical skill" and "cultural awareness" sections that are sprinkled throughout the book are also very good. Separating the exegetical skill material from the main text makes it easy to find and apply to study of parts of the NT other than the immediate context in which the particular sections appear.

Overall this book is very good seminary level course and reference material that I know will be very useful to me in the future. It's a poor substitute for the lively and highly interactive teaching that you would get in one of the author's classes, but it's a lot less expensive.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An excellent resource for understanding the New Testament 16 July 2010
By Lori S - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A great book for anyone who wants to get a better understanding of Scripture and the New Testament world! Dr. deSilva is a brilliant New Testament scholar with a deep sensitivity for spiritual matters. Well-written and fascinating, this book will inspire and challenge you! The first few chapters provide crucial historical and cultural information. Next, deSilva gives readers an overview of the gospel genre. Then, each book of the NT is discussed. Topics include authorship, date, historical context, important themes and passages, spiritual/ministry formation, exercises for better understanding the Scriptures and more. DeSilva doesn't shy away from controversy, either--he presents different points-of-view that help readers learn to think logically so they can critically evaluate the various teachings they may come across during the course of their lives. This book makes a terrific gift for church leaders, Sunday School teachers, and anyone else who is serious about their faith!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Alt Sem Textbook 19 Mar. 2013
By Nancy Westmoreland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Quite an eye opener! Informative--the author has certainly earned his accolades! All of my classmates and I are eternally grateful!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In addition DeSilva provides an easy to understand introduction to source criticism 8 Dec. 2014
By Bill Benninghoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book can be used as the textbook for a New Testament survey course at the graduate or seminary level. David DeSilva provides a wealth of historical, cultural and literary background information to help us understand the 1st century message of each book in the New Testament. He helps us to think about the pastoral motivation behind each gospel and letter in the New Testament. What audience were these gospels/letters written to and what were the pastoral needs of that audience. These concerns helped shape the contents of each book that makes up our present New Testament. In addition DeSilva provides an easy to understand introduction to source criticism, redaction criticism, literary criticism, feminist criticism and many other tools of scholarship that help us understand the New Testament. I highly recommend this introduction to the New Testament.
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