Review of “A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament” edited by Michael Kruger (Wheaton: Crossway, 2016)
Today I will be reviewing the second installment of a two-part Biblical Theology collection published by Crossway. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament is a collection of essays written by the past and present members of the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary. It shares many traits in common with the Old Testament volume so I would encourage you to check out my review before proceeding here.
In the introductory essay by editor Michael Kruger, he identifies several features of this collection of essays which are of note. First, it is accessible. By this, he means that it does not require a technical knowledge to make use of this volume. Issues like dating are generally left to an appendix, there is a general lack of discussion regarding Greek, and there is a premium placed on more applicable aspects of the text. Second, it is theological. “Because this volume is designed primarily to help pastors and Bible study leaders prepare their sermons or lessons, a higher priority is placed on exploring the message of each New Testament book.” (loc 437) That is one of the primary strengths of this book, is that a pastor can simply read through an essay regarding the book he is working on and already have a good idea of the main themes and structure of the book. When he then goes to more technical commentaries, he already has the foundational aspects of the whole book in mind. Thirdly, it is redemptive-historical. Now, this is a term that can mean different things to different people. What is meant in this volume is that the authors of each essay are intentionally showing “how each book contributes to the fulfillment of God’s salvific plan. In particular, such an approach would focus on how Old Testament history, types, and shadows all find their fulfillment in the person and work of Christ.” (loc 475) Finally, it is Reformed. This was a breath of fresh air for me. It is not the case that there is an absence of good Reformed commentaries, but the fact is that when writing an essay, to properly source your thoughts one often must look outside the Reformed tradition. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but when preparing for a sermon it can be cumbersome to sift through the chaff to find that kernel of wheat. Knowing that these essays were prepared by men who have studied and been approved for Gospel ministry in a Reformed context is incredibly helpful. Fourthly, it is multiauthored. Kruger offers some commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach, but I will leave the reader to his thoughts on that. Finally, he notes that it is pastoral. “As noted above, the real purpose of this volume is to help Bible study leaders, pastors, and Christian leaders to teach and apply the Word of God to their respective audiences.” (loc 549)
Rather than spend time exploring the specifics of each essay, or even the specific of any one essay, I will make some brief comments. Each essay is valuable in its own right, and I would commend this work as an addition to the library of any pastor or biblical student. Not only that, but it is approachable enough that any adult Christian reader would benefit from a run through this and the accompanying Old Testament volume. The varied style of each essay, although basically structurally the same, I found to be somewhat distracting. This is mostly a reader preference, and not necessarily a weakness of the book, but it is important to know this going into the text. For those who may find this problematic, I would suggest not reading the book sequentially, as I did for review purposes. That isn’t really the intention of the book anyway, so that isn’t an issue. That said, the essays were all excellent, and I particularly enjoyed the essay on Hebrews by Simon Kistemaker.
- Kruger, Michael, ed. A Biblical-Theological introduction to the New Testament. Kindle Edition. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016.