Here’s enlightenment where we really need it. The story of the making of the New Testament all the way through canonization is a weak area for many. Coupled with our insufficiency is how this issue has grown into one that Bible critics have coalesced around. Whether you would agree with every conclusion that Mr. Patzia makes or not, this book richly repays the reader who wrestles with it. I understand that this revised and expanded edition is used by many as a textbook, but I believe it’s needed by pastors and Bible students as well.
Part 1 gives an outstanding background of the literary world of the New Testament. You will gain an overview of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint, the Old Testament Apocrypha, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Greco- Roman literature. These things are rarely presented with any kind of balance in popular articles, so this even has a wonderful apologetic value.
Part 2 describes the making of the Gospels. The first section describes the Gospels going from oral to written status. In mentioning form criticism, he is more than fair in describing its shortcomings. There’s another discussion about why the Gospels were written before he dives into how they were written. I can’t follow all he had to say about the synoptic problem, source, or redaction criticism. More helpful is his explanation of our fourfold gospel collection. He will give us both a positive argument for these four while suggesting why others are spurious. He covers the history of their acceptance as well.
Part 3 takes Paul’s letters on a similar journey to the one he did with the Gospels in the previous section. There are some additional debated points like Paul’s use of a secretary or that some scholars champion pseudonymity. The best part, again, is his taking Paul’s letters through their collection acceptance. Part 4 takes all the other parts of the New Testament through the same process.
Parts 5 and 6 are invaluable. They describe how the canon came together and counteracts the tilted scholarship of folks like Bart Ehrman. Paleography, types of materials used for writing, the forms of books like the roll and the codex, the actual writing of New Testament manuscripts, and the transmitting of them. I found less value in Part 7 on his explanations of textual variants and textual criticism.
This book is a major success. It’s now one of my favorites on the subject of canonization. I give it the highest recommendation!
I received this book free from the publisher. 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.
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