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Reading the New Testament for the First Time [Paperback]

Ronald J Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

31 Aug 2012
In Reading the New Testament for the First Time Ronald Allen offers a truly elementary guide to the New Testaments world, its story, and its message. He walks first-time readers through the basics, including how to choose a Bible and how to find passages, and introduces them to key characters and major ideas. Also includes background information on how and when the New Testament was written, and a guide on how to apply the New Testament to our lives today.

Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (31 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802867359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802867353
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,031,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

It is a rare book that delivers more than its title promises. This one does -- and then some! Ronald Allen has produced the cleanest, clearest, humblest, most non-doctrinaire, accessible, and absorbing general work on reading the New Testament that I have ever seen. It should be required reading for all of us. -- Phyllis Tickle founding editor of Religion Department of Publishers Weekly "At last! A first-rate Bible scholar has put together a book that makes the New Testament accessible. Reading the New Testament for the First Time grows out of Allen's years of teaching experience. He covers every question that is likely to arise when a 'first-timer' wants to read the New Testament. Like a good and trusted friend, he walks the novice down a spiraling staircase into the wonders of this ancient and strange book, pointing out the most provocative, profound, and inspirational aspects of the New Testament. Strongly recommended." -- John S. McClure Vanderbilt Divinity School "Clear, engaging, and genuinely helpful! This is the first book I would recommend to anyone who wants a basic and informed guide into the rich but sometimes confusing terrain of the New Testament." -- Matthew L. Skinner Luther Seminary "Here is a book that respects both Bible and reader, providing basic information for both the serious reader and the merely curious without talking down to them. A good first step into deeper Bible study." -- M. Eugene Boring Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

About the Author

Ronald J Allen is Professor of Preaching and New Testament at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of almost forty books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginning with the first steps... 6 Jan 2013
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
The title of this book would imply that it is not a book for me. The first time I read the New Testament was when I was eight years old - I think I understood about ten percent of what I was reading, and that was on the surface level. But I did read it. Since then, I've read it multiple times, including out loud, in Latin, in Greek, and for intensive classes at the graduate level. So, naturally, there's nothing in this book for me, right?

Wrong.

I am chaplain in a retirement community where the average age is over 80 - this is perhaps the last American generation where most people grew up with a regular knowledge of the Bible, and yet even in this group, as we go through our Bible studies, many confess at one point or another that what we've covered is new, or different, or in some way a challenge. As a perhaps overeducated person in this field, one of my tendencies is to go for the technical, the intensive, the deep, when perhaps the question is as simple as saying someone's name again. (As an aside, I had one man who once was complimenting my abilities to another, at how wonderful my Bible study sessions were; just as I was tempted toward pride, he then announced, `Yes, he can pronounce all those names!' So much for theology, literary analysis, and the like...)

Ron Allen referenced Dragnet in the introduction, in that he intentionally presents a `just the fact, ma'am' approach, and writes in a deliberately informal (and hence accessible) style. He gives historical background for the book and the people in the book. Understanding the world of Judaism and the world of antiquity helps the reader to put the New Testament in perspective - this was not originally a book written in King James English or in an Elizabethan setting, after all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 24 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent little book. Informative and helpful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 11 Mar 2013
By Jennelle Cunning - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A refreshing look at the world behind the writing of the New Testament. For those new to Bible study and those who want to have some accurate information to share with others. Extremely easy to read.!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading the New Testamennt for the first time. 8 Sep 2012
By john - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great help in finding special events in the New Testament. Finding reference to compare different book accounts of the same teaching. Good guidence to application of teaching to modern day life. Well written to illistrate and encourage more use of the Bible for everyday life. Amazon provides easy acceess to obtain copies of this Book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginning with the first steps... 5 Jan 2013
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title of this book would imply that it is not a book for me. The first time I read the New Testament was when I was eight years old - I think I understood about ten percent of what I was reading, and that was on the surface level. But I did read it. Since then, I've read it multiple times, including out loud, in Latin, in Greek, and for intensive classes at the graduate level. So, naturally, there's nothing in this book for me, right?

Wrong.

I am chaplain in a retirement community where the average age is over 80 - this is perhaps the last American generation where most people grew up with a regular knowledge of the Bible, and yet even in this group, as we go through our Bible studies, many confess at one point or another that what we've covered is new, or different, or in some way a challenge. As a perhaps overeducated person in this field, one of my tendencies is to go for the technical, the intensive, the deep, when perhaps the question is as simple as saying someone's name again. (As an aside, I had one man who once was complimenting my abilities to another, at how wonderful my Bible study sessions were; just as I was tempted toward pride, he then announced, `Yes, he can pronounce all those names!' So much for theology, literary analysis, and the like...)

Ron Allen referenced Dragnet in the introduction, in that he intentionally presents a `just the fact, ma'am' approach, and writes in a deliberately informal (and hence accessible) style. He gives historical background for the book and the people in the book. Understanding the world of Judaism and the world of antiquity helps the reader to put the New Testament in perspective - this was not originally a book written in King James English or in an Elizabethan setting, after all. He then gives two brief overviews of the New Testament, one chronological based on events contained in the narratives, and one chronological based on the authorship of the books (this latter is a bit more fuzzy in that there is greater debate on the order of several of the books, but Allen places them in their brief context here).

His succeeding chapters then give overviews of the life of Jesus, the time after Jesus but before Paul, the Pauline mission and letters, the Gospels (which is in fact a later set of writings than many pieces from Paul), and then later writings. One particularly interesting chapter is the one on famous passages from the New Testament - the `Love Chapter' of Corinthians, John 3:16, the Golden Rule, etc. Allen sets these in context as well as discusses the way they have been used (and potentially misused), and warns against prooftexting, the idea of dueling Bible verses to try to prove a point.

Allen's appendices give the reader guidance for further study, for ways in which to read the New Testament, and a brief discussion on terminology. On the whole, this is a good book, even for the more advanced scholar, who will be reminded of some basic truths and approaches useful for those outside the academic realm, but particularly for those who are looking for a gentle introduction without too much jargon or assumption of set theological or educational background. A willing spirit and open heart will find something useful here.

My one wish would be for an index. Apart from that, Allen's own writing at the end is useful instruction: `While we wait for final and complete knowledge, we should keep in mind that representatives from each end of the spectrum of interpretation all agree that God is love. The nature of God should determine what happens in the church. We should love one another.'
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