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.
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.
Click/tap image above for a larger view of Raymond E. Brown's Introduction to the New Testament (Abridged Edition).
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 (Abridged Edition)
Regular price $27.90
[Accordance 11: Study] What is the Greatest Commandment? All three Synoptic Gospels include the story of Jesus' answer to the Pharisees' question—but they have significant differences. In this podcast Dr. J will help us understand the reason for such variations. Along the way, we’ll trace the history of this commandment, consider the ways in which the Gospels were composed, and investigate the nature of a common figure of speech in the Bible.
See more episodes of Lighting the Lamp on our Podcast Page!
After releasing N. T. Wright’s “For Everyone” New Testament Commentary Series, Accordance users have continued to request more titles from the former Bishop of Durham. Regardless of whether one is a fan of Wright’s work, a critic, or somewhere in-between, few can ignore the impact he has made on modern biblical studies. Thus we are pleased to bring you two brand new N. T. Wright bundles with titles from two prominent publishers.
First, from Fortress Press come five titles, including the first four volumes in the Christian Origins and the Question of God series.
The New Testament and the People of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God: Volume 1
This first volume in the series Christian Origins and the Question of God provides a historical, theological, and literary study of first-century Judaism and Christianity. Wright offers a preliminary discussion of the meaning of the word god within those cultures, as he explores the ways in which developing an understanding of those first-century cultures are of relevance for the modern world.
Jesus and the Victory of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God: Volume 2
In the second volume, N. T. Wright focuses directly on the historical Jesus: Who was he? What did he say? And what did he mean by it? Wright begins by showing how the questions posed by Albert Schweitzer a century ago remain central today. Then he sketches a profile of Jesus in terms of his prophetic praxis, his subversive stories, the symbols by which he reordered his world, and the answers he gave to the key questions that any world view must address. The examination of Jesus' aims and beliefs, argued on the basis of Jesus' actions and their accompanying riddles, is sure to stimulate heated response. Wright offers a provocative portrait of Jesus as Israel's Messiah who would share and bear the fate of the nation and would embody the long-promised return of Israel's God to Zion.
The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God: Volume 3
The third book in the series sketches a map of ancient beliefs about life after death, in both the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds. It then highlights the fact that the early Christians' belief about the afterlife belonged firmly on the Jewish spectrum, while introducing several new mutations and sharper definitions. This, together with other features of early Christianity, forces the historian to read the Easter narratives in the gospels, not simply as late rationalizations of early Christian spirituality, but as accounts of two actual events: the empty tomb of Jesus and his "appearances."
Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God: Volume 4
In the fourth installment (both print volumes are combined in one Accordance module), Wright carefully explores the whole context of Paul’s thought and activity—Jewish, Greek and Roman, cultural, philosophical, religious, and imperial—and shows how the apostle’s worldview and theology enabled him to engage with the many-sided complexities of first-century life that his churches were facing. Wright also provides close and illuminating readings of the letters and other primary sources, along with critical insights into the major twists and turns of exegetical and theological debate in the vast secondary literature. The result is a rounded and profoundly compelling account of the man who became the world’s first, and greatest, Christian theologian.
In addition to the series listed above, the N. T. Wright bundle from Fortress Press also includes the following title:
Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013
This companion volume to Paul and the Faithfulness of God and Paul and His Recent Interpreters brings together N. T. Wright's most important and influential articles on Paul over the last 35 years. This text includes previously unpublished exegetical essays on Paul's letters, specially written for this book. The book begins with N. T. Wright's auspicious essay of 1978, when as a young, aspiring scholar he gave the annual Tyndale lecture in Cambridge, and proposed, for the first time, "a new perspective" on Pauline theology. The book ends with an expanded version of a paper he gave in Leuven in 2012, when as a seasoned scholar at the height of his powers he explored the foundational role of Abraham in Romans and Galatians. In all, the thirty-three articles published here provide a rich feast for all students of Paul, both seasoned and aspiring.
N.T. Wright Bundle of Five (5) Works from Fortress Press
List price $293, Regular price is $249
In addition to the bundle above, we bring you two N. T. Wright titles from InterVarsity Press.
Evil and the Justice of God
We hear of child abuse, ethnic cleansing, AIDS, torture and terrorism, and rightfully we are shocked. But N. T. Wright says we should not be surprised. For too long we have naively believed in the modern idea of human progress. In contrast, postmodern thinkers have rightly argued that evil is real, powerful and important; but they give no real clue as to what we should do about it. In fact, evil is more serious than either our culture or our theology has supposed. How then might Jesus' death be the culmination of the Old Testament solution to evil but on a wider and deeper scale than most imagine? Can we possibly envision a world in which we are delivered from evil? How might we work toward such a future through prayer and justice in the present? These are the powerful and pressing themes that N. T. Wright addresses in this book that is at once timely and timeless.
Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision
Few issues are more central to the Christian faith than the nature, scope and means of salvation. Many have thought it to be largely a transaction that gets one to heaven. In this riveting book, N. T. Wright explains that God's salvation is radically more than this. At the heart of much vigorous debate on this topic is the term the apostle Paul uses in several of his letters to describe what happens to those in Christ--justification. Paul uses this dramatic image from the law court to declare that Christians are acquitted of the cosmic accusations against them. But justification goes beyond this in Paul's writings to offer a vision of God's future for the whole world as well as for his people. Here in one place Wright now offers a comprehensive account and defense of his perspective on this crucial doctrine.
N.T. Wright Bundle of Two (2) Works from InterVarsity Press
List price $41.90, Regular price is $29.90
Bonus Tip: Organizing Your Accordance Library
Accordance 11 automatically arranges your books into one of 23 categories. But this organization is not rigid, and you can rearrange your Accordance Library any way that works best for your studies.
If you purchase the complete seven N. T. Wright titles listed above, after running Easy Install, you will find them in the "Writings" section of the Library window. I've been in the process of giving my Accordance Library a little bit of "further" organiztion, and I wanted to do the same for the N. T. Wright titles.
As you can see in the image on the right, I have created an "N. T. Wright" subfolder in Writings (right-click on any title or category to find the command to create a new folder). In the first section of the subfolder, I've placed the four titles in the Christian Origins and the Question of God Series in order.
After these four books, I've added a dividing line (right-click and choose "Add Divider"). Here I've added the fifth N. T. Wright book from Fortress Press. Under that, I've added another divider, and then I've listed my two IVP volumes in alphabetical order.
Ultimately, it doesn't take a whole lot of effort to organize your Accordance Library making your content even easier to find.
The relationship between the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament is immensely important yet often debated. If their relationship seems obvious to you, it may surprise you to learn that different Christian and Jewish groups have very different notions of how the two Testaments relate to each other:
- Traditional Jewish Interpretation: The Hebrew Bible, together with the oral law later codified in the Mishna, are sacred. The New Testament springs from a sect of Judaism which accepted Jesus as Messiah and later split off from Judaism.
- Traditional Christian Interpretation (including Reformed): The New Testament is the fulfillment of all the Old, and the Church supplants Israel as the people of God. Laws and promises given to Israel in the Old Testament now apply to the Church in spiritual ways.
- More recent Christian Interpretation (including Dispensational): The New Testament springs out of the Old, but God works in different ways in each period and what is true of one period does not necessarily apply to another. Laws and promises given to Israel in the Old Testament may not apply to the Church and may still await fulfillment.
- Messianic Jewish Interpretation: The New Testament reveals the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old, particularly in the Messiah Jesus. The Old Testament laws and promises still apply to Jewish believers, and many Jewish practices are observed as they were by the first Jewish believers.
In practice most Christians in the West neglect the Hebrew Bible and are not familiar with the Jewish roots and background of their faith, which may limit their understanding of the New Testament.
Of course, there are widely divergent opinions within each group. Our intention is NOT to open up a discussion on our brief definitions or on the merits of each position. Our goal is to help you go deeper in your study of the relationship of the Old to the New Testament. Accordance offers a wide variety of resources from different viewpoints to assist each user to tackle these issues. Many of these are on sale with great discounts for one week only.
Check the Quotations of the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament
The OT in NT Parallel, included in all Mac and Windows versions of Accordance but not on iOS, lets you compare the texts in the original (two versions at once) with their quotations. This under-used resource is best accessed by opening it from the Library: Parallels section and entering the book and chapter you are studying. You can then select each passage in the list in the top right corner, and see the parallels. There are also a number of cross reference modules such as the ESV Crossrefs and the GNT Notes which can be used in parallel with the text to link to other passages relevant to the top verse in the pane.
Understand How the NT Uses and Quotes the OT
NT quotes may differ significantly from the original text as we have it today, and may seem to interpret it very differently from its context. Well-known scholars have authored the following books which help us to understand how the New treats and quotes the Old. These works give us different approaches to the principles of such interpretation, and tackle the passages themselves, and the challenges they present.
Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
Leading evangelical scholars G. K. Beale, D. A. Carson, and their distinguished team of contributors, have produced 1280 pages worth of commentary focused on the Old Testament quotations, allusions, and echoes that appear throughout the New Testament. This landmark reference employs contextual interpretation, informed by historical background, to present a unified understanding of Old Testament references in Matthew through Revelation.
Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation
G. K. Beale developed this companion volume to the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament to present a methodological approach to the task of understanding how New Testament writers refer to the Old Testament. Scholars, pastors and serious students will appreciate the solid framework of interpretation and exegesis applied to understanding the continuity of all Scripture.
Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Darrell L. Bock, and Peter Enns discuss how Old Testament texts relate to their New Testament references and allusions, allowing users to develop their own views on this important subject.
Read a New Jewish Commentary on the NT
This new Study Bible on the New Testament, written by Jewish scholars, sheds a unique light on the Gospels and Epistles, explaining to Jews what the text means to Christians while at the same time pointing out the Jewish customs and beliefs of the time that are implicit in the writings. Christians will not agree with every conclusion, but they will deepen their grasp of the meanings of the actions and teachings of Jesus and his apostles.
The Jewish Annotated New Testament Notes
Renowned Jewish scholars Marc Z. Brettler and Amy-Jill Levine created the first ever Jewish Study Bible of the NT, designed to explain the text to Jews and the Jewish background to Christians. Thirty separate essays illuminate important topics for any reader.
Explore the Messianic Movement
Standing in the gap between traditional forms of Judaism and Christianity, the controversial Messianic movement attempts to return to the Jewish roots of faith in Jesus as Messiah, as described in the Gospels and book of Acts. The titles below enhance our study of the issues it raises.
Six authors interact on whether Messianic congregations are necessary or whether Jewish believers should instead be incorporated into the Gentile church.
Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations
Both Gentile Christian and Messianic readers will benefit from this balanced and accessible introduction to the diverse Messianic Jewish movement, its ecclesial context and biblical foundations.
David Stern revised the 1917 JPS Tanakh and translated the New Testament to show the close connections between the testaments. The commentary answers questions about the NT from his messianic perspective.
Study Classic Works by Hebrew Christians
19th. century scholars from a religious Jewish background brought a new dimension of knowledge to the Christian world. Their understanding of Hebrew and of Jewish life informed and infused all their writings, many of which were widely circulated at the time and are highly regarded to this day.
Commentary on the Old Testament
A triumph of rigorous scholarship from a Hebrew background, this remains one of the most popular Old Testament commentaries available, especially for in-depth analyses of the Hebrew text. (Included in the Advanced and Ultimate Collections.)
Alfred Edersheim wrote extensively on the Jewish background to Christianity. This group (included in the Ultimate Collection) comprises four of his best known works on OT History, the Life of Christ, Temple worship, and Jewish Life.