Dec 26, 2016 Richard Mansfield

Brown's Introduction to the New Testament

Brown-NT Intro_120 My first introduction to the writings of Raymond E. Brown came through his book The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. With that work, like his other writings I came across later, I discovered three very important aspects about anything written by Raymond Brown. First, Brown is thorough in whatever subject he covers. The same can certainly be said of Brown’s Introduction to the New Testament, a title in the Anchor Bible Reference Library. At 928 pages in print, this massive volume goes well beyond the average classroom New Testament introduction. Almost every imaginable theological issue attached to various sections of the New Testament writings receive more than adequate treatment in this work.

Brown NT Intro

Click/tap image above for a larger view of Raymond E. Brown's Introduction to the New Testament.

Second, Brown’s work is extremely readable. I would suggest that perhaps Brown knew how to communicate difficult subjects so well because he served as both a Catholic priest as well as a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York where he taught for almost three decades. This fairly rare combination of both the pastoral and the academic synthesizes in Brown’s Introduction to the New Testament letting him tackle very complex subjects in a way that the reader can grasp without too much difficulty. That combination of both the pastoral and the academic allowed Brown to envision his audience for his New Testament introduction as composing individuals across a broad spectrum:

I envision both readers who have become interested in the NT on their own and readers who take NT beginning courses on different levels (e.g., Bible study groups, religious education, college surveys, and initial seminary classes) [p. vii].

Brown designed this volume so that it’s accessible to the beginner, but he also provides significant coverage on advanced issues, so that as the reader continues to gain a better understanding of the New Testament, the book does not lose its value.

Third, I’ve discovered in reading Raymond Brown over the years that even if I disagree with a particular conclusion he makes, I’m still compelled to keep reading. Some writers come across as overly dogmatic on particular issues, but not Brown. That doesn’t mean that he won’t clearly communicate his position on a topic of debate, but I’ve always come away appreciating the perspectives he communicates regardless of my level of agreement. His Introduction to the New Testament does not shy away from controversial issues, but I’m confident that any reader will have greater understanding and appreciation for what is often a more complicated issue than initially perceived.

As described by the publisher, Brown’s Introduction to the New Testament summarizes current “scholarship into basic summaries of each book, provides a historical overview of the ancient Greco-Roman world, engages in discussions of theological issues, and presents supplementary material for deeper understanding, such as tables, maps, bibliographies, and appendixes.” In addition, be prepared for a somewhat unorthodox approach in the order that Brown covers the books of the New Testament. Rather than following canonical order as in similar introductions, Brown follows what he calls “a combined logical and chronological order” (p. ix). Thus, Brown starts with Mark's Gospel, followed by Matthew, followed by Luke and Acts, then the Gospel of John, followed by the Letters of John, and so on. The order makes perfect sense in the way it's presented, but it's not what one would necessarily expect.

Brown NT Intro (Abridged)

Click/tap image above for a larger view of Raymond E. Brown's Introduction to the New Testament (Abridged Edition).

Brown-NT Abridged_120 Although I would encourage just about anyone interested in New Testament studies to add Brown’s complete Introduction to the New Testament to his or her personal Accordance Library, I realize that 928 pages is quite a bit of content (even if Accordance does obscure the length somewhat due to its digital format). Therefore, we are also offering An Introduction to the New Testament (Abridged Edition). At only slightly a third the length of the complete edition, the abridgment was done “by Marion Soards, who worked with Brown on the original text [resulting in] a new, concise version [that] maintains the essence and centrist interpretation of the original without tampering with Brown’s perspective, insights, or conclusions.”

Introduction to the New Testament
Regular price $74.90
Buy Now

Introduction to the New Testament (Abridged Edition)
Regular price $27.90
Buy Now

| Bookmark and Share