The Writings of the New Testament
The Writings of the New Testament

The Writings of the New Testament

by Luke Timothy Johnson

5 Rank Score: 5.2 from 2 reviews, 0 featured collections, and 0 user libraries
Pages 544 pages
Publisher Fortress Press
Published 2010
ISBN-13 9780800663612


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The prefaces to all three editions of Johnson’s Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation are found at the beginning of this third edition. In the first edition (1988), Johnson said he wrote the book for those who were “unable to find a comprehensive introduction that is neither repellingly technical nor appallingly trivial” (xv). It is perhaps indicative of the desire to appeal to a wider audience that the third edition seeks to fill the niche for “a comprehensive introduction that is neither too technical nor too trivial” (ix). The book is intended to be an appropriate textbook for either undergraduate courses or beginning seminary classes. All three editions have done very well at meeting this admirable but difficult standard. The most noticeable changes in this third edition are aesthetic. It has a color cover, a layout of two columns per page, and numerous color pictures as well as different-colored type for discourse outside the main text. This is a visually attractive book that is designed to pique the student’s interest and presumably to compete with the similarly attractive fourth edition of Bart Ehrman’s The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (soon to be released in its fifth edition). [Full Review]
This text, The Writings of the New Testament, is the third edition of the well-known and enduring “interpretative introduction” to the writings of the New Testament by a prodigious scholar of the New Testament world and its writings. Those who are familiar with the previous two editions of Johnson’s text will be grateful for the changes he has brought to bear on what has become an enduring classic. He has purposefully oriented his former text to embrace a much more reader-friendly or student-oriented text. For those unfamiliar with the previous two editions of The Writings of the New Testament, a word of explanation is needed. This text originated out of lectures that Johnson gave at the Yale Divinity School between 1976 and 1982 (x). The first edition was published in 1985, the second in 1999. What characterizes Johnson’s approach is the very deliberate subtitle that he gave to this work, namely, An Interpretation. Johnson explains what he means by this designation, “I have called it an interpretation rather than introduction for the simple reason that most volumes going by the name of introduction are either handbooks devoted to the communication of information concerning a narrow range of scholarly issues or popularized versions of conventional scholarly wisdom for college students. In contrast to both, I have tried to provide a genuine interpretation of Christianity’s earliest writings” (xv). Consequently, what Johnson offers here is his own interpretation of the evidence relating to these writings of the New Testament. [Full Review]