How do you get 781 pages of material into 176 pages? Ask Andy Naselli. Introducing the New Testament: A Short Guide to its History and Message is new from Zondervan and is a condensation of the larger work by D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo An Introduction to the New Testament.
This is an impressive work. If I were doing this I wouldn't know where to begin. It's important to know this is not just a cut and paste of the larger work. Andy did considerable rewriting of much of the material. But he still managed to retain a lot of the meat of the book. There are even a couple of extra features which make this even more appealing. Each chapter ends with the question "What Does _____ Contribute to Our Understanding of the Faith?" There are questions for review and discussion which make it handy for small group studies. And each chapter also includes a section of "Recommended Resources" which is broken down into three parts: Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced. The discussion of the "New Perspective" is a model of clarity and involves a mere four pages. The danger in any kind of condensation is that critical details are omitted or brushed over in a facile manner. But that's why this is a simple introduction. It's meant to get your feet wet not to bathe in. (There's always more to be said on almost everything. Even the preface to the larger edition says the following of itself: "Although the brevity of this volume precludes detailed discussion of many topics we would have like to pursue, we hope the constraints we have chosen will enhance its value. emphasis mine) But Andy shows he knows where a little more discussion is required. The authorship of 1 & 2 Corinthians is treated with one sentence: "Paul is identified as the author in the opening verses of both letters, and few have contested the claim." (90) But when it comes to the authorship of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus we have an acknowledgment that "most modern critical scholars hold that the Pastoral Epistles are pseudonymous, that is, the author is not Paul but someone addressing the people of his own day with what he thought Paul would have said to them." (123) Then he surveys five arguments offered against Pauline authorship and provides a brief response to each one. Each book is laid out with a similar outline. I'll use Luke as an example:
A. What is Luke about?
B. Who wrote Luke?
C. Where was Luke written?
D. When was Luke written?
E. To whom was Luke written?
F. Why was Luke written?
G. How does Luke Compare with Matthew and Mark?
H. What is the relationship between Luke and Acts?
I. What does Luke contribute to our understanding of the faith?
All of the books have questions A - F and I. Other books have questions unique to them. In Mark we have "Is Mark 16:9-20 Authentic?" In Acts we have "What Style of Literature is Acts?" In 1 & 2 Corinthians we have "How Do the Historical Puzzle Pieces Fit Together?" which addresses the Corinthian correspondence.
This is a fine book which would do well for church libraries or small group leaders. New believers or high school students just starting a study of the New Testament could also benefit from this volume. This was no small task to accomplish but kudos to Andy on a job well done. Oh, and it's only $12.99.