Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New Testament Text Books

Brandon Wason offers us his list of course books for his papers on the New Testament and Early Christianity. While there are some fab books mentioned, I'm not sure how helpful the recommended list is. There seem to be some key books missing, even given the fact that one could not include all the good books in one course! My recommended list for the New Testament World and Literature would include any of the following:
    • The Writings of the New Testament by L. T. Johnson
    • An Introduction to the New Testament by R. E. Brown
    • Introduction to the New Testament. Helmut Koester.
    • History and Literature of Early Christianity. 2nd ed. by Helmut Koester
    • Introducing the New Testament: It's Literature and Theology by J. Green, M. Thompson & P. Achtemeier.
    • The New Testament: Background, Growth & Content by B. Metzger

A good couple of books on Early Christianity and Society would include.

    • The Rise of Christianity by R. Stark
    • From Jesus to Christianity by L. W. White
    • New Testament History by B. Witherington
    • Introducing Early Christianity: A Topical Survey of Its Life, Beliefs and Practices by L. Guy

This list appears in no particular order but these are the books that have helped me in my New Testament courses and the simple church courses that I have taught. I recently received An Introduction to the New Testament by DeSilva which is proving to be rather useful as a class text. It's quite big and comprehensive and it does include a feature on ministry formation but the book is a wealth of helpful information for beginning students and those who've been around for a while.

I remember we were recommended John Drane's Introduction to the New Testament. But that was boring so I bought Brown's last monster instead! Yahoo! It took me forever as an undergrad to get through it, and I think I missed a good 40% of the debates and technical discussions. But it was still one of the best books for actually getting into the world and text of the New Testament. Rodney Starks book on The Rise of Christianity was so different and thought-provoking that I also recommend it when I teach.
Of course, all this depends on what level you're teaching and wanting to study at. My lecturers thought me mad for opting for Brown over Drane as an undergrad. But I'd already begun reading Brown's commentary on John, liked what I read, and so took the plunge! It wasn't an impossible task. And it helped me get a little ahead - only to come to Africa and be left behind... :(
It's important to get a textbook that will survey all the issues and give you an informed view on nearly everything. That's the strength of DeSilva's work. Even thought it's a mammoth book, 950pgs, the topics and history covered make it well worth the effort and cash. It's also got loads of pictures + diagrams and a much needed survey on the environment and social world of early Christianity. That's also where Koester is at his best. Vol 2 is simply fantastic for getting to grips with the backdrop of early Christianity.
On the early Christianity and Society, my teacher Laurie Guy wrote a cool book which has proved rather helpful and illustrative of what a textbook should provide. I've got all the class notes and the book and he did well transforming the notes into a book - which I think many should read as it deals quite a bit with primary sources!
But I'm rambling... Hope this helps for those starting out on the journey that will not end until you've breathed your last and then stand in front of the ONE who gave rise to all of this reflection!

1 comment:

eddie said...

mmm, i'd love to have DeSilva's introduction. But I also want another mentioned by Brandon Wason, David Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric.