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Review: An Introduction to the New Testament

IVP Academic, 2018. 896 pp.
Now in its second edition, David A. deSilva’s An Introduction to the New Testament: Context, Methods, and Ministry Formation (IVP Academic, 2018) represents the finest evangelical New Testament scholarship compiled in a single volume. Rather than limiting its discussion to historical context, deSilva approaches the New Testament in a broad vision, covering exegetical, linguistic, sociological, and pastoral understandings. What makes this book unique is that it is written with a view toward ministry formation. Maintaining that the ultimate purpose of biblical study is to inform the work of the Church, deSilva concludes each chapter with practical applications toward Christian living and leadership in the Church.

Chapters 1 through 3 introduce the New Testament and deSilva’s approach through the text. It argues for the New Testament to be read pastorally, and then follows most traditional introductions and sets the stage for the culture of the New Testament period. Chapters 4 through 24 follow each book of the Bible in its (generally accepted) order of writing, rather than canonical order. Each chapter introduces a critical exegetical skill, which is helpful and provides a “case study” for understanding higher methods of biblical criticism. He writes from a balanced perspective and provides support for all sides of disputed topics in New Testament studies (e.g., the synoptic problem and the riddles of Hebrews).

This new edition is redesigned, one of its greatest strengths, with attractive full-color maps, tables, and layouts. One wonders if the text is too cluttered at times, though; nevertheless, there is a lot of content to cover in a dense book. This leads to another issue—the book is a massive tome. The casebound book is around 1.5” thick and heavy. Many financially tight students may also struggle with the expensive price tag of such a large resource.

While this book is advertised for an introductory audience, it does not seem appropriate for a general survey course. The content is very advanced; deSilva is comprehensive and exhaustive in his scope, which makes for an excellent reference resource, but not for introducing the foundations of the New Testament. It appears that he is trying to combine a biblical survey, theological interpretation, and hermeneutics handbook in a single volume.

With many New Testament books on the market, David deSilva’s Introduction to the New Testament stands apart; it goes beyond most New Testament survey textbooks in its full, holistic approach to understanding and critically engaging with the text. His contribution to connecting the academy and the church, balancing pastoral and theological integrity, is much-needed. Students preparing for teaching the New Testament in any ministry context would greatly benefit from deSilva’s all-in-one resource for studying Scripture.

(A complimentary review copy was given in exchange for an honest review.)

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