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The New Testament: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

The New Testament: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Luke Timothy Johnson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

As ancient literature and a cornerstone of the Christian faith, the New Testament has exerted a powerful religious and cultural impact. But how much do we really know about its origins? Who were the people who actually wrote the sacred texts that became part of the Christian Bible? The New Testament: A Very Short Introduction authoritatively addresses these questions, offering a fresh perspective on the underpinnings of this profoundly influential collection of writings.
In this concise, engaging book, noted New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson takes readers on a journey back to the time of the early Roman Empire, when the New Testament was written in ordinary Greek (koine) by the first Christians. The author explains how the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and Revelation evolved into the canon of sacred writings for the Christian religion, and how they reflect a reinterpretation of the symbolic world and societal forces of first-century Greco-Roman and Jewish life. Equally important, readers will find both a positive and critical reading of the New Testament--one that looks beyond its theological orientation to reveal an often-surprising diversity of viewpoints. This one-of-a-kind introduction engages four distinct dimensions of the earliest Christian writings--anthropological, historical, religious, and literary--to provide readers with a broad conceptual and factual framework. In addition, the book takes an in-depth look at compositions that have proven to be particularly relevant over the centuries, including Paul's letters to the Corinthians and Romans and the Gospels of John, Mark, Matthew, and Luke.
Ideal for general readers and students alike, this fascinating resource characterizes the writing of the New Testament not as an unknowable abstraction or the product of divine intervention, but as an act of human creativity by people whose real experiences, convictions, and narratives shaped modern Christianity.

About the Author

Luke Timothy Johnson, a former Benedictine monk, is currently the Robert W. Woodruff Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 741 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (3 Feb 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0035FP7T6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #193,471 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As with others in the series, this tight volume packs a lot of knowledge and understanding into a relatively short book.
It is divided into clear, useful chapter headings: some of these are overall questions, how the New Testament got put together, or what hermeneutics are applied to it; others are on individual sections: one on the Synoptic Gospels, one on Johannine literature, one on St Paul's letters etc..
The challenge here is that there can be a blur between when we are reading Johnson's summary of received opinion, and when we are reading Johnson's own personal take on something. For example, he describes the Gospel of Mark as in its essence a piece of Apocalyptic literature, with a few stories and life incidents of Jesus thrown in: his argument comes from emphasisising the otherwise slightly out of place Mark 13, full of wild apocalyptic imagery. Now Johnson may be right, and his view is well-argued, but I would say that his take on it is well left of centre in terms of how scholars in general view Mark's Gospel. (Yes, Mark 13's apocalpytic imagery is important, but there is a human truth in the Passion story and a focus on the kingdom of God in most of it that doesn't square with the book being primarily apocalyptic.)
When one picks up "A very short introduction", I believe one is looking more for scholarly consensus than an author's own hobbyhorses.
That said, I may have slightly overstressed this aspect. Johnson is excellent at compressing information and argument into a tight format, and - when one is writing this concisely - inevitably one cannot be entirely evenhanded as otherwise the book would be tedious and overlong.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to the subject 18 April 2011
Luke Johnson is an expert in this field and this book gives a wonderful short introduction that offers a very good insight into the circumstances in which each of the books of the New Testament were written. His other books go into greater depth and the next step up from this book would be Writings of the New Testament. This book is pleasingly written in a neutral and academic manner and so the average enquirer does not become burdened with 'religious language'. Key themes that emerge from the book are first that it was the experience of the risen Jesus that inspired the early church rather than any literate 'teaching'. Second that the early Christians used a wide range of 'books' to suit their needs and so we have the whole range included in the New Testament and there is no single 'early' or 'pure' teaching. The item that I find missing from his writing is an explanation of the strong anti semitism in the gospels; anti Pharasee writing is explained, as that party was reforming after the fall of Jerusalem, but not the later added virulent statements.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fair and Balanced, Something for All 7 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This "Very Short Introduction" is written by Luke Timothy Johnson (LTJ), a former monk who is now a professor of New Testament studies, and does exactly what it says on the tin.

The work is divided into 11 Chapters.

Chapter 2 contextualises the NT in its contemporary setting, explaining the difference in belief and lifestyle of Jew and Gentile.

Chapter 3 focusses on the resurrection, and whilst not suggesting exactly what happened, LTJ lets the reader know that *something* significant must have happened in order for the Christian faith to begin. That *something*, he claims, is that the disciples of Jesus came to believe he had risen from the dead, but he refrains from passing personal comment on that issue.

Chapters 6-9 provide an overview of most of the documents of the NT, with only Jude and 1 + 2 Peter being passed over.
Chapter 6 looks at the Synoptic Gospels, going through each in turn.
Chapter 7 focusses on the life and works of Paul, and as a representation of his work provides a great mini-exegesis of his theology in 1 Corinthians and Romans.
Chapter 8 "Two Hidden Treasures" provides an exegesis of James and Hebrews.
Chapter 9 finishes this section looking at a Johannine school of thought as found in the Gospel of John, 1,2,3 John and Revelation, again, providing a mini-explanation of these works and their contexts.

Chapter 10 discusses the creation and importance of the NT canon in brief detail. Readers should then be aware of CE Hill's "Who Chose the Gospels?" for more info on this one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exactly as described in the title 22 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is concise, pocket size an easy read. It does exactly what it says in the title. Arrived within 4 days of ordering.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting 22 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am doing the Catholicism course and this book was reallly interesting about the early church, I would recommend it to friends
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