As is always true, numerous books were published relating to New Testament studies during the past year. Nothing that has the appearance of being epoch making materialized, but a large number of substantial works were produced. Excellent studies of individual topics, with a stress on history and background, appeared. That the importance of the context within which the New Testament was written is receiving attention is a point to be noted. Commentaries also received attention, many of them new, and related to the Greek text. Far more numerous are reprints of older works—another point worthy of note. In all, it has been a good year for students of New Testament life and thought.

Significant Books

Five books were selected as “significant books for evangelicals.” They are significant not because they were necessarily written by or for evangelicals (although some were), but because evangelicals ought to read them for their own benefit—sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing.

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Tyndale), under organizing editor J. D. Douglas and revision editor Norman Hillyer, is a magnificent three-volume work that will surely find a home in every evangelical’s library. The text is clearly written, up to date, cognizant of critical theories, yet true to the Bible as God’s Word and replete with helpful information. The color illustrations, maps, charts, graphs, and tables enhance the usefulness of the work immensely. This work is destined to become a standard that will be turned to often by students and ministers alike.

Jesus in Gethsemane (Paulist), by David M. Stanley, S.J., is an interesting and moving work combining immense scholarship and Christian piety. It is an intensive study of the early church’s reflections on the suffering of Jesus that never forgets it was for us he suffered, and challenges us to suffer also for him. It is deeply spiritual, yet it is done in the most rigorous possible fashion academically. Such a combination is rare. Evangelicals will not find all of Stanley’s conclusions acceptable, but the value of the work remains.

Galilee from Alexander the Great to Hadrian, 323 B.C.E. to 135 C.E. (Glazier/Univ. of Notre Dame), by Sean Freyne, was chosen for two reasons—one symbolic and one factual. Symbolically, it represents what ought to be done with background studies: here is a work that really lets history matter in the way it should. Factually, it is a monumental work. The painstaking research, careful analyses, and cautious conclusions make it a model to follow for others similarly launching out into new territories. It will prove invaluable to New Testament scholars. (For a review, see CT, Jan. 23, 1981).

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The Two Horizons: New Testament Hermeneutics and Philosophical Description (Eerdmans), by Anthony C. Thisleton, is a dazzling work, whose erudition challenges the reader to the uttermost. The author’s treatment of Heidegger, Bultmann, Gadamer, and Wittgenstein, as well as his own profound insights, make this book one to be reckoned with. Those who would study hermeneutics will have to begin with Thisleton’s work. (See forthcoming review, CT, April 10. 1981.)

Christology in the Making (Westminster), by James Dunn, is an analysis of how the doctrine of the Incarnation developed in the early church. Dunn offers the hypothesis that it began to emerge when the exalted Christ was spoken of in terms drawn from the Wisdom imagery of pre-Christian Judaism, with Paul starting the process. Dunn also asserts that it is only in the fourth Gospel that one may properly speak of a doctrine of the Incarnation. Not everyone will agree with Dunn in every particular, but his book needs to be read. He combines immense erudition (notes and bibliography alone cover 136 pages) with deep Christian commitment. Those who would correct Dunn have their work cut out for them.

Introductory/Related Studies

There has been a good deal of scholarly activity in these areas during the last few years. It is apparent now that in order to understand the New Testament one must take into account the surrounding environment and events.

Archaeology/The Land.The Bible in Focus (Donors Inc., Box 65, Blackburn South 3130, Victoria, Australia), by Clem Clack, is a beautiful, multicolored photographic introduction to the land and the people of Palestine. The Holy Land (Oxford), by Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, and The Archaeology of New Testament Cities in Western Asia Minor (Baker), by Edwin Yamauchi, are very helpful books that add substantially to our knowledge of biblical archaeology. Digging Up the Bible (Morrow), by Moshe Pearlman, is a highly readable account of how the archaeological discoveries were made, from the pioneer diggers to the present day. Galilee from Alexander the Great to Hadrian. 323 B.C.E. to 135 C.E. (Glazier/Univ. of Notre Dame), by Sean Freyne, is the definitive work on this important locality and its inhabitants. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine (Doubleday), by John Galy, is a large, magnificent volume concerning one of the world’s most famous monasteries. It cannot be too highly recommended for its sheer beauty and worth. Another opulent, illustrated volume is Armenian Art Treasures of Jerusalem (Caratzas), by Bezalel Narkiss and Michael Stone. Its art, maps, mosaics, and liturgical objects are strikingly beautiful and provide valuable insight into an early expression of Christianity.

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New Testament Backgrounds. Dealing with Greek and Roman backgrounds are Alexander the Great and the Greeks: The Epigraphic Evidence (Univ. of Oklahoma), by A. J. Heisserer, a collection of texts, translations, and studies; Isis Among the Greeks and Romans (Harvard Univ. Press), by Friedrich Solmsen, a readable study of the diffusion of religion in the Mediterranean area; and Hellenistic Mystery Religions (Pickwick), by Richard Reitzenstein, a standard, if lop-sided, classic. Jewish life and thought are dealt with by the following: Herod Antipas (Zondervan), by Harold W. Hoehner, a major study now in paperback: Jewish Sects at the Time of Jesus (Fortress), by Marcel Simon, another standard work, now in its second paperback printing, and the Jewish People and Jesus Christ (Baker), by Jacob Jocz, a comprehensive study in a new edition of the relationship between church and synagogue. Texts and Testaments (Trinity Univ. Press), edited by Eugene March, is a diverse collection of critical essays on the Bible and the early church fathers, some of great value.

Linguistic Studies. A new paperback edition of The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament, coded to Strong’s Concordance, has been made available by Baker Book House. The Meters of Greek and Latin Poetry (Univ. of Oklahoma), by James W. Halporn. Martin Ostwald, and Thomas Rosenmeyer, and Classical Rhetoric and Its Christian and Secular Tradition from Ancient to Modern Times (Univ. of North Carolina), by George A. Kennedy, provide valuable classical information. The latter is a challenging and exhaustive study. Bruce Metzger continues to put us in his debt with New Testament Studies: Philological, Versional and Patristic (E. J. Brill).

Adolf Deissmann’s monumental Bible Studies, looking at the language, style, and nature of the Bible as illustrated by the papyri, has been reprinted by Alpha Publications. F. C. Conybeare and St. George Stock’s slender A Grammar of Septuagint Greek (Zondervan) is available again in paperback. Huber Drumwright has written a useful first-year grammar in An Introduction to New Testament Greek (Broadman). David Holly has produced, with prodigious effort, A Complete Categorized Greek-English New Testament Vocabulary (Baker) in which words, frequencies, grammatical aspects, distinctives, and more, are tabulated. W. H. Simcox’s two classics, The Writers of the New Testament: Their Style and Characteristics and The Language of the New Testament, have been reprinted by Alpha Publications.

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Xavier Leon-Defour’s Dictionary of the New Testament (Harper & Row) is available in English (translated from the revised French edition). It is a major research tool for New Testament scholars. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary in three volumes (Tyndale), is a magnificently illustrated revision (under the direction of Norman Hillyer) of J. D. Douglas’s New Bible Dictionary. That work was called by W. F. Albright “the best one-volume Bible dictionary in the English language.” This new illustrated version is even better.

New Testament Introductions.The New Testament Writings: History, Literature, Interpretation (John Knox), by James N. Efird, is a moderately critical introduction stressing theological content as well as such matters as date and authorship. God Speaks in Jesus (St. Anthony Messenger Press), by Sister Blanche Twigg, is a conservative Roman Catholic journey through the New Testament. Guide to the New Testament (Morehouse-Barlow), by Alice Parmelee, is a slender book of introduction to the individual books of the New Testament. New printings of some older standards have also appeared, including The Heart of the New Testament (The Quality Press), by H. I. Hester; Understanding the Bible (Zondervan), by John Stott; and Introduction to the New Testament (Klock & Klock), by Theodor Zahn.

A very helpful work designed for students and scholars is A Bibliographical Guide to New Testament Research (JSOT Press, Dept, of Biblical Studies, Univ. of Sheffield. England), edited by R. T. France.

Hermeneutics. Three valuable new works have appeared in this area; all are worth reading in detail. The Language and Imagery of the Bible (Westminster), by G. B. Caird, looks at the linguistic distinctives of the Bible; The Two Horizons (Eerdmans), by Anthony Thiselton, analyzes the relation of philosophy to New Testament hermeneutics; and The Word’s Body (Univ. of Alabama), by Alla Bozarth-Campbell, is a creative essay developing an incarnational aesthetic of interpretation. The profound influence of Paul Ricoeur on contemporary hermeneutics is evidenced by Essays on Biblical Interpretation (Fortress), by Paul Ricoeur, edited with an introduction by Lewis S. Mudge. This is an excellent introductory text to his thought. The lengthy discussion of Bultmann is especially challenging.

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Various Topics. Ralph P. Martin has analyzed the images of the church in New Testament times in The Family and the Fellowship (Eerdmans). Health and Healing (Handsel/Columbia Univ. Press), by John Wilkinson, is a careful examination of the New Testament evidence. John Knox’s New Foundation Theological Library series continues with New Testament Prophecy, by David Hill. It is a seminal work that will generate fruitful discussion. Those who appreciate Kenneth W. Clark will be delighted that E. J. Brill has published some of his scarcer pieces in The Gentile Bias and Other Essays. These essays cover everything from the posture of the ancient scribe to realized eschatology. James Dunn’s excellent and provocative Jesus and the Spirit (Westminster) is now available in paperback.


Kenneth Boa and William Proctor probe what the star of Bethlehem meant in The Return of the Star of Bethlehem (Doubleday-Galilee). It is traditional in viewpoint but up to date and prophetic in tone. Three new lives of Jesus appeared: And Still Is Ours Today (Seabury), by F. Washington Jarvis; This Jesus (InterVarsity), by David Day: and Rabboni (Revell), by W. Phillip Keller. They are all helpful, but Rabboni is the easiest to read. F. J. Sheed’s To Know Christ Jesus (Servant) is also a life of Jesus, now in paperback, that looks at Christ and how he relates to faith, prayer, doctrine, and worship. It is a classic study. Hans-Ruedi Weber draws valuable insight from Jesus’ life for us today in Jesus and the Children (John Knox). It is a scholarly, yet readable work. George MacDonald’s The Miracles of Our Lord (Harold Shaw) consists of meditations that encourage us to bring Christ into our lives in a new way. A. M. Hunter examines Christian existence as living in the kingdom of God in Christ and the Kingdom (Servant). As always. Hunter is clear and challenging. Jesus in Gethsemane (Paulist), by David M. Stanley, is a reverent, full-length, scholarly study of Jesus’ suffering and prayer. It is devoutly written and moving, even if rather technical.

Four books have appeared dealing with the resurrection of Jesus: Days of Glory (Servant), by Richard T. A. Murphy, is an orthodox, straightforward account of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ in New Testament Theology (Westminster), by John Frederick Jansen, begins with the resurrection as past event, then relates it to present and future; The Resurrection of Jesus (Baker), by Gary R. Habermas, is a “resurrection apologetic” set in the context of a rational theism; and The Miracle of Easter (Word), edited by Floyd Thatcher, is a collection of viewpoints ranging from James I. McCord to Fulton J. Sheen.

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Several books appeared that attempt to relate Jesus and his teachings to our present existence. Christ in Your Life (Concordia), by Leslie Brandt, uses the medium of poetry to show what God’s good news can do for us. Knowing Christ (Moody), by S. Craig Glickman, offers glimpses of the Lord who changes our lives. The Incomparable Christ (Broadman), by Billy E. Simmons, examines the titles of Christ to demonstrate his character and power. Who’s Boss? (Victor Books), by Merrill C. Tenney, turns the questions of Jesus upon our lives in examination.

Several scholarly studies dealing with various aspects of the doctrine of Christ were also published. Michael Ramsey looks at the early church’s faith in Jesus and its legitimacy in Jesus and the Living Past (Oxford). An interesting collection of essays is: The Messiahship of Jesus: What Jews and Jewish Christians Say (Moody), edited by Arthur W. Kac. A detailed and comprehensive study is Son of Man: The Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7 (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), by Maurice Casey. Christology in the Making (Westminster), by James Dunn, is a thorough study of the origins of the doctrine of the Incarnation in the New Testament. Christ Proclaimed: Christology as Rhetoric (Paulist), by Frans Jozef van Beeck, is a challenging new approach to Christology that takes the Resurrection and the living presence of Christ in the Spirit as starting points.


The Synoptic Gospels. Several books deal with the Synoptics as a whole. The Growth of the Gospels (Paulist), by Neil J. McEleney, is an easy-to-follow primer arguing the priority of Mark. D. Moody Smith’s Interpreting the Gospels for Preaching (Fortress), is an attempt to use form and redaction criticism homiletically. It contains some helpful insights, but this method ought not to be overdone. Poverty and Expectation in the Gospels (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), by David L. Mealand, is a thought-provoking study of the socioeconomic context of Jesus’ message. Documents for the Study of the Gospels (Collins), by David R. Cartlidge and David L. Dungan, is a diverse collection of documents, from Greek myths and Aesop’s fables to the dream of Scipio and the murder of Julius Caesar, which supposedly help in understanding the Gospels. Interesting as it is, it is difficult to see the relevancy of much of it.

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Specific books dealing with Matthew are the following: The Mind of Matthew (Westminster), by R. E. O. White; Meet Your King (Victor), by Warren Wiersbe; The Gospel According to Matthew (Baker reprint), by J. A. Alexander; Gospel of Matthew (Kregel reprint), by David Thomas; Behold the King (Multnomah), by Stanley D. Toussaint; The Gospel of Matthew (Paulist), by Robert E. Obach and Albert Kirk: Preaching Through Matthew (Abingdon), by Robert E. Luccock; The Lord’s Prayer (AMG), by Spiros Zodhiates; The Sermon on the Mount (Multnomah), by J. Dwight Pentecost; and St. Matthew’s Earthquake (Servant), by Paul Hinnebusch, which deals with the themes of judgment and discipleship. Of these books, I found Pentecost and White to be quite instructive.

Fewer books deal with the Gospel of Mark, but the most challenging is History and Criticism of the Marcan Hypothesis (Mercer Univ./T. & T. Clark) by Hans-Herbert Stoldt. He asserts, “The Marcan hypothesis … is untenable.” This is a book to be reckoned with and all N. T. scholars will need to read it. J. A. Alexander’s commentary has been reprinted by both Klock & Klock and Baker Book House. Both I, Mark: A Personal Encounter (John Knox), by Carl Walters, Jr., and Mark: Traditions in Conflict (Fortress), by Theodore J. Weeden, attempt to explain the Gospel of Mark. Neither is wholly successful, but Walters seems to make better sense.

Savior of the World (InterVarsity), by Michael Wilcock, is a straightforward, simple commentary on Luke which will be helpful to college students or educated lay people.

John. E. W. Hengstenberg’s long out-of-print Commentary on the Gospel of St. John (two vols.) has again been made available by Klock & Klock. It is in many ways a fine commentary. More than translators will be helped by A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John (United Bible Societies), by Barclay Newman and Eugene Nida. It is a verse-by-verse explanation of the content of the Gospel. Steve Harper has written a devotional study of John in A Fresh Start (David C. Cook). John (Michael Glazier), by James McPolin. S.J., is a Roman Catholic biblical-theological commentary. Following the Way: The Setting of John’s Gospel (Augsburg), by Bruce E. Schein, is a nicely illustrated, well-written, and highly informative work that sets the stage for understanding the Gospel. It should prove very useful.

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Acts. Fortress Press has made Leander Keck and J. Louis Martyn’s fine collection of essays. Studies in Acts, available again. Its 19 studies are of abiding worth. Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity (Fortress), by Martin Hengel, is another challenging work. Hengel’s break with radical criticism and demonstration that Acts is, after all, historically reliable is a welcome move. Several commentaries have appeared: Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Klock & Klock reprint) by J. A. Alexander: Acts: The Birth of the Church (Revell), by E. M. Blaiklock: The Acts (Michael Glazier), by Jerome Crowe: Acts: An Exposition, Vol. III, Chapters 19–28 (Zondervan), by W. A. Criswell; Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Klock & Klock reprint), by P. J. Gloag; and Acts (InterVarsity, 38 DeMontfort St., Leicester LEI 7GP, U.K.), by I. Howard Marshall. Blaiklock and Marshall have done especially fine work.

Paul and His Letters. Several studies in Paul have been printed or reprinted recently. Paul: Mystic and Missionary (Orbis), by Bernard T. Smyth, is a thoughtful, provocative study. W. D. Davies’s monumental work. Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (Fortress), is now in its fourth edition, with a lengthy new preface. Paul and Power (Fortress), by Bengt Holmberg, looks at the structure of authority in the primitive church. Ronald F. Hock uses Paul’s tent making as a basis for analyzing The Social Context of Paul’s Ministry (Fortress). Two valuable works on community are: Paul’s Idea of Community (Eerdmans), by Robert Banks, and Pauline Partnership in Christ (Fortress), by J. Paul Sampley. Banks’s book is very well done. Moma Hooker writes A Preface to Paul (Oxford), arguing that Paul must be allowed to speak for himself.

Fritz Rienecker’s A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament: Romans to Revelation (Zondervan) is now available. It is a concise word study of the second half of the N. T. and is especially helpful in the grammar it explains. J. B. Lightfoot’s Notes on the Epistles of Paul has been reprinted by Alpha Publications.

Romans, as always, attracts special interest. Broadman offers volume 20 of its Layman’s Bible Book Commentary, Romans, I Corinthians, by J. W. MacGorman. Other commentaries are: Romans (Michael Glazier), by Eugene H. Maly: Romans, two volumes (Christian Publications), by Don J. Kenyon; A Guide to Understanding Romans (Bethany Fellowship), by Harold J. Brokke: Romans (Augsburg), by Roy A. Harrisville; Commentary on Romans (Eerdmans), by Ernst Kasemann; and Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans (Cistercian Publications), by William of St. Thierry, translated by John Baptist Hasbrouck and edited by John D. Anderson. W. G. T. Shedd’s commentary has been reprinted by both Baker Book House and Klock & Klock. Of the recent books on Romans, Käsemann’s book cannot be neglected by scholars, and Harrisville offers stimulating reading as well.

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Fans of William Hendricksen will be happy to see Romans: Chapters 1–8 (Baker). As always, it is a stimulating spiritual experience to read a Hendriksen work.

The following books have appeared on the Corinthian letters: I Corinthians (Michael Glazier), by Jerome Murphy-O Conner. O.P.; Believe and Behave (Sceptre), by Wilbur E. Nelson; The Love Life: 1 Corinthians 13 (Kregel), by W. Graham Scroggie; Commentary on First Corinthians (Klock & Klock), by T. C. Edwards: and Charles Hodge’s Exposition of First Corinthians and Exposition of Second Corinthians, both by Baker Book House. The Ministry of Reconciliation (Baker), by French L. Arrington, is an exposition of II Corinthians that shows great exegetical skills, but it is put in terms that are easy to understand.

The prison letters of Paul received a great deal of attention this last year. Reprints include: Robert Johnstone, Philippians (Klock & Klock): Charles Hodge, Ephesians (Baker): Alfred Plummer. Philippians (Revell): B. F. Westcott, Ephesians (Klock & Klock).

Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues his spiritually refreshing series on Ephesians, covering 3:1–21 in The Unsearchable Riches of Christ (Baker). John Stott writes as always with penetration and insight, in God’s New Society: The Message of Ephesians (InterVarsity).

Two shorter studies in Philippians are: Philippians: A Study Guide Commentary (Zondervan), by Howard F. Vos, and Philippians: The Believer’s Joy in Christ (Tyndale), by James T. Draper. Of a different sort is the New Century Bible Commentary. Philippians (Eerdmans), by Ralph P. Martin. It is a scholar’s and student’s commentary and will be prized by those who want exacting (and evangelical) exegetical work.

Colossians (Presbyterian & Reformed), by Gordon H. Clark, is a popular exposition, but it is marred by irrelevant and unnecessarily harsh asides such as “can anyone imagine Bella Abzug enjoying marriage—or her husband?” (p. 122). H. D. McDonald, Colossians and Philemon (Word.) and R. C. Lucas, Fulness and Freedom: The Message of Colossians and Philemon (InterVarsity), have also written popular works: both are deeply spiritual and challenging.

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St. Paul’s Epistles to the Thessalonians, by George Milligan, has been reprinted by Fleming H. Revell as part of their Evangelical Masterworks, as well as by Klock & Klock.

Thomas Taylor’s 1619 Exposition of Titus has been made available again by Klock & Klock. Its style is dated, but it makes interesting reading. Luke and the Pastoral Epistles (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), by Stephen G. Wilson, is a major work arguing, primarily on the basis of style and theme, that Luke is the author of the pastorals.

Hebrews. Klock & Klock has made two standard works available: Franz Delitzsch’s Hebrews and A. B. Bruce’s Hebrews. William Plummer’s 1872 work. Hebrews, has been reprinted by Baker Book House as part of their Great Summit Books series. Baker has also made available John Owen’s massive seven-volume An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

General/Johannine Letters. F. J. A. Hort’s exegetical works on James and I Peter (along with four other works) are available as Expository and Exegetical Studies (Klock & Klock). David Hubbard in The Book of James: Wisdom that Works (Word) offers practical advice from a practical epistle. The United Bible Societies continues its Helps for Translators series with A Translator’s Handbook on the First Letter from Peter, by Daniel C. Arichea and Eugene A. Nida. Ray Stedman’s popular Expository Studies in I John (Word) will delight those who want simple but meaty fare.

Revelation. Three books appeared in 1980 that defend a pretribulational interpretation of Revelation. Lehman Strauss’s Prophetic Mysteries Revealed (Loizeaux) looks primarily at the letters of Revelation 2–3, finding a three-fold meaning for each letter: local at the time, personal application, and prophetic of the seven ages of the church before the Rapture. Edgar James’s Day of the Lamb (Victor) gives a simple exposition of the entire book. Revelation: Drama of the Ages (Harvest House), by Herbert Lockyer, Sr., is a more extended commentary showing careful and extensive work in the text. It shows no acquaintance with contemporary scholarly discussion.

Three works take a more traditional view of Revelation. David J. Wieand sees in Revelation Visions of Glory (Brethren Press) that relate to our lives today. Songs of Heaven (Revell), by Robert Coleman, is a devotional study of the doxologies in Revelation. The Apocalypse (Michael Glazier), by Adela Yarbro Collins, sees Revelation as a symbolic depiction of the church’s combat with evil, concluding with God’s ultimate victory.

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