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Thomas Schreiner boldly argues in his New Testament Theology (Baker Academic, 2008) that the 27 books of the New Testament present two unified themes. First, in Jesus' announcement that the kingdom has come, the New Testament (NT) advances the redemptive history of the Old. Since the first century Christians have lived in an "already not yet" tension, awaiting the kingdom's full consummation. The second theme is the book's subhead: "Magnifying God in Christ." The goal of the kingdom is to magnify God through the work of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. CT editor at large Collin Hansen spoke with Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What separates your New Testament Theology from other recent projects with a similar goal?

My work is distinctive in pursuing a thematic approach. We have had two recent and excellent NT theologies by I. Howard Marshall and Frank Thielman that concentrate on examining the distinctive message of each book in the NT. A book-by-book approach is valuable, but it is also helpful to consider the message of the NT as a whole. The danger of a thematic approach is that it may squeeze out the particular emphasis of a writer in order to defend a larger unity. On the other hand, it is also true that understanding the whole helps us to see the parts more clearly.

How long did you work on this project, and how did you proceed to complete such an ambitious goal?

I worked on and off for about seven years, though I took time out to do some other projects along the way. I wanted to write a work that was helpful to students and pastors mainly, though I hope scholars might find some usefulness from the book as well. I approached ...

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Surveying the Whole to See the Parts
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June 2008

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