Book Review: A Survey of the New Testament
The Book, “A Survey of the New Testament,” is a Four-Part book of 379 pages of ‘Continuous Dialogue.’ The book was written by Robert H. Gundry, published by Academie Books, and printed by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Gundry leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind of his Scholarly qualities.
Gundry provides clear guidance and practical wisdom for understanding the New Testament. He prompts readers to dialogue with the New Testament continually. This dialogue takes the form of comments on and references to the Scriptural sections assigned for reading to gain a sense of logical progression. Gundry moves some of the background material concerning Intertestamental history, Judaism, etc., to the later part of the book to enable the reader to see how background material helps interpret the text and keeps the textbook from supplanting the New Testament.
The Book Summary:
Part One treated ‘The Backdrop: Political, Cultural and Religious Antecedents’ of the New Testament. This part focuses on the following:
- Political History of the Intertestamental and New Testament
- Secular Setting of the New Testament
- The religious setting of the New Testament and
- Canon and Text of the New Testament
The main topic of Part Two is ‘The Crucial Event: Jesus’ Career’; this includes:
- The Life of Jesus
- The Four Gospels
- Introductory Overview of Jesus’ Public Life and Teachings
- A Harmonistic Study of the gospels: The Beginnings
- The Great Galilean Ministry
- The later Judean and Perean Ministry and
- The Denouement also includes discussing and explaining the Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross.
Part Three is ‘The Triumphant Aftermath: From Jerusalem to Rome. The author based his perspective on the Act Spirit of Christ through the Apostles in Jerusalem and far and wide through the Apostle Paul. The central theme here is the action of the Holy Spirit.
The Concluding Part Four focuses on the ‘Explanation and Implications of the Epistles and Apocalypse. Gundry ended ‘In Retrospect.’ He concluded that Jesus Christ presented Himself as a Spiritual Redeemer (the Son of Man who must suffer and die as the servant of the Lord before being exalted to dominion); rather than the ‘Political Messiah’ the Jews expected.
The Resurrection vindicated Jesus before His disciples. Gundry affirmed that the geographical spread of the gospel created the need for writing the New Testament Epistles and, later on, the Gospels. These writings began as a literary means of evangelizing unbelievers, confirming the faith of believers, and providing an authoritative record of Jesus’ life and Ministry.
The last surviving Apostle John, in addition to his gospel and epistles, contributed the visionary, forward-looking Apocalypse to the New Testament, which began the process of collection and Canonization of the New Testament. Maps and expressive photographs supported each Chapter of this book to highlight the events in focus and a Bibliography for further investigation. Gundry harmonized the gospels and treated each separately, and he explored the whole New Testament using the Four-Parts.
Apart from following the grammatical-historical method of explanation, the book uses leading questions to introduce chapters and sections. The theological and critical perspective is evangelical and orthodox. The book thoroughly studies the Intertestamental Period and the New Testament. The title “A Survey of the New Testament” given to it is apt. The author used commentary generously from other distinguished authors.
The pictures tell their own stories. The book is well-packaged and durable, with an attractive typeface. Another beautiful thing is the expert proofreading, and editorial effort put into it. This book is to teach skills to students of the New Testament. The exercises in the book and graphical explanation, in some instances, clearly guide the reader to understand his message fully. I suggest the next revised edition should broaden the scope of the Intertestamental period to include more details, probably from Jewish extra-biblical materials such as Josephus, Tannaitic literature, the Apocryphal, Pseudepigraphal, and Qumral.