Review: The New Testament

PrintArthur J. Bellinzoni is Professor of Religion Emeritus at Wells College in Aurora, New York, where he served for nearly four decades. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Bellinzoni is the author of several books, including, The Sayings of Jesus in the Writings of Justin Martyr (Brill, 1967), The Two Source Hypothesis: A Critical Appraisal (Mercer University Press, 1985), and The Old Testament: An Introduction to Biblical Scholarship (Prometheus Books, 2008). Most recently, Bellinzoni has released the New Testament counterpart to his Old Testament introduction—a well-organized and uniquely situated introduction to New Testament scholarship.

The New Testament: An Introduction to Biblical Scholarship begins with a brief introduction to the origins of modern biblical scholarship and the methods and rules of evidence therein. As the book unfolds, Bellinzoni systematically tackles some of the various shades that flavor the discipline of New Testament scholarship, including, textual criticism, literary criticism and philology, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, the quest for the historical Jesus, the early Christian movement, canonical and non-canonical Gospels, post-apostolic Christianities, the canon of the New Testament, and much more. The scope of material covered within this volume is quite impressive. However, it is the approach that Bellinzoni takes therein that makes this volume ideal for students of the New Testament.

Each chapter of the book seeks to both relay the need-to-know information regarding the current landscape of New Testament studies and provide the reader with a firm point of application of the particular method, discipline, or subdiscipline. Bellinzoni invites the reader to understand how biblical scholars seek to employ various methods of study within the arena of NT studies and then carefully guides them step-by-step through relevant passages to illustrate how such methods work. This approach is unique in that it doesn’t merely describe the conclusions of biblical scholarship, but rather encourages the readers to actually engage in biblical scholarship.

The organization and approach of this volume make it a unique and appropriate textbook for orienting incoming students to the underbelly of NT studies. It is executed well and the reader will benefit greatly therein. However, I was disappointed with the lack of interaction with conservative scholarship and the criticisms of the methods covered therein. Bellinzoni seems to confuse biblical scholarship with critical scholarship—giving voice to the critical scholars while neglecting or sometimes outright dismissing the conservative ones. This is certainly more of an introduction to critical scholarship than an introduction to biblical scholarship in general—a point of distinction not all readers may be able to determine. Regardless, recognizing the above, Bellinzoni has provided an important volume that will benefit readers in more ways than one.

If you are in the market for an introduction into the world of NT studies from a modern critical perspective, The New Testament: An Introduction to Biblical Scholarship by Arthur J. Bellinzoni is one of the most helpful volumes available today. It is a useful resource that will make you think hard and engage quickly.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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