5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Refreshingly Sane and Sober,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Message of the New Testament (Paperback)
I've been searching for a good, brief undergraduate-level textbook on the New Testament for a course in Biblical Theology. There are plenty of such textbooks for the literary and historical background of the various New Testament documents, but (at this level) precious few that devote themselves to the theological *message* of the New Testament documents.
The late F.F. Bruce, a highly distinguished scholar and believing Christian, provides such a summary here. After a brief consideration of method, Professor Bruce swiftly moves on to consider the earliest written witness to the life and teachings of Jesus -- the gospel of Mark --, presses into the question of the relationship between the historical Jesus and the Apostle Paul, and expounds some of the central ideas of Pauline theology such as the two ages, justification, the cosmic Christ, and the church as the body of Christ.
Taking Luke and Acts as one extended work, Bruce expounds the mission of Jesus and its continuation in the mission of the Apostles according to this historical witness. Subsequent chapters (among others) deal with the Gospel of Matthew, the strange Letter to the Hebrews, and the Gospel of John.
For reasons I cannot fathom, Bruce discusses the Apocalypse two chapters *before* he discusses the Gospel of John. Yet he offers no explanation of this choice -- not even the hypothesis that the writing of the Apocalypse preceded the Gospel. This is all the stranger, since Bruce thinks both books came from the same writer, the Apostle John.
The book, originally published in 1972, wears well for its age. It cannot, of course, discuss the latest fads spewed forth by the so-called "Jesus Seminar." But then, it doesn't need to.
This is a work of historical description and theological summary of the Christian gospel as it was preached and taught by the earliest Christians. On this most important subject, it's refreshingly sane and sober.