It’s not often I get excited about a New Testament introduction textbook, but Köstenberger , Kellum, and Quarles have exceeded expectations.

Their new work, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament, is a tour de force for issues related to the NT. At 1,100+ pages, this work leaves no stone unturned and should be welcomed by NT professors, pastors, and students alike. Even better, this new second edition is completely updated with the latest scholarship.

Contents

The work divides into five parts:

  1. Introduction, focusing on canon, authority of Scripture, and NT historical background.
  2. Jesus and the Gospels, explaining the synoptic problem (in 100+ pages!) and surveying each Gospel.
  3. The early church and Paul, using Acts as a historical template for the early church and surveying Paul’s letters in their likely order of composition.
  4. The General Epistles and Revelation, looking at each work in turn.
  5. Conclusion, examining unity and diversity in the NT with an epilogue on the story line of Scripture.
Comprehensive Approach

One of the unique features of this work that makes it comprehensive in its approach is the use of the “hermeneutical triad,” which Köstenberger and Patterson have laid out elsewhere (see also Part I of Wright’s NTPG). Each book of the NT is examined for its “(1) history (including a book’s authorship, date, provenance, destination); (2) literature (genre, literary plan, outline, unit-by-unit discussion); and (3) theology (theological themes, contribution to the canon)” (xv). This feature is more useful than most people realize, since the biggest problem students have in introductory courses is having a peg on which to hang the barrage of facts that come at them.

This work is also comprehensive in that it covers more issues that are technically necessary for a NT introduction textbook. The section on unity and diversity is not necessary, nor is the section on Scripture and its authority. While it’s not necessary, that does not mean it is unhelpful. On the contrary, it is better to include too much information than too little, since the teacher can simply leave some reading out if they desire. And on necessary issues, such as pseudepigraphy, they cover a good 30 pages with attention to primary and secondary sources. The student will be greatly blessed by this scholarship.

User-Friendly

This introduction was made for students and pastors. First, while the authors engage academically with the secondary sources, they also cover the span of primary sources that are relevant to each topic. Second, they helpfully produce a multitude of charts. Students have a hard time digesting a concise history of second temple Judaism, for example, so the chart that puts major events in chronological order on pp. 65-67 will assist learners immensely.

The beginning of each chapter also provides beginning, intermediate, and advanced information that should be learned on the topic of that chapter. The each of each chapter contains study questions and resources for further study. The end of the book contains a massive glossary and indexes and names, subjects, and Scripture. Each chapter on a NT book also contains key facts and an outline, which will help pastors immensely with preparing sermons as they preach through books of the Bible.

Evaluation

In Gordon Fee’s New Testament Exegesis handbook, he encourages you to own multiple introductions to the NT and OT. The NT introductions you should own include the moderate volume from Kümmel, the conservative works that engages critical scholarship from D. Guthrie and Carson/Moo, and the moderate introduction from R. Brown.

The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown is just as good, if not better, than Guthrie’s and Carson/Moo’s. The fact that it is authored by three scholars, rather than one or two, gives it increased specialization without losing its cohesiveness. Like Carson/Moo, it provides an Evangelical flavor that cherishes the theological message of the NT. But unlike these two predecessors, this new textbook is completely updated and impressively comprehensive.

Per Fee’s advice, keep several NT introductions on your shelf, and make sure The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown is one of them.

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Buy it here on Amazon.

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