5 Stars Out Of 5
The First and Last off the Shelf!
July 18, 2015
The number of New Testament introductions on the market today may lead some readers to question the need (or necessity) for another volume in an already saturated genre of biblical literature. But The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament is unique in several respects.
First and foremost, this volume is extremely user friendly and helpful for readers of all knowledge levels. At the offset of each chapter the authors have compiled a section tiled Core Knowledge in which they provide the reader with a brief paragraph outlining the Basic, Intermediate, and Advance learning points for each chapter. This provides the reader with a choosable set of expectations for understanding. Moreover, each chapter includes a set of Key Facts which outline the author, date, provenance of composition, destination of the letter, purpose, theme, and key verses of each New Testament book. At the end of each chapter is a Study Questions section for further aiding in the mastery of the covered material, as well as a chapter specific bibliography For Further Study.
Second, this volume is both comprehensive, balanced, and conservative. While there are certainly other options available for New Testament introductions on the market, limitations are ever-present in the production of a single volume work that seeks to reach a wide-ranging audience. This is a reality that even the authors acknowledge (xix). Nevertheless, The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown seamlessly combines the each of these characteristics throughout. It is comprehensive in the sense that it leaves no necessary stone unturned, focusing attention on the entire New Testament canon, background, Jesus, the Gospels, the early church and Pauls writings in order of composition, the General Epistles and Revelation, and the unity and diversity of the New Testament (xix). It is balanced in the sense that it consistently presents the various issues one would encounter in New Testament studies, faithfully following sound hermeneutical procedure to work through the complex introductory problems the reader will inevitably face. It is conservative in the sense that all three authors affirm the historical validity and ascribed authorship of all 27 New Testament books, and provides a strong defense for each.
Third, this volume is up-to-date and intentionally oriented towards spiritual nourishment and contemporary application. One of the primary limitations of a New Testament Introduction is keeping up with contemporary issues and advances within the arena of biblical studies. This volume provides the appropriate interaction with both older and more recent New Testament scholarship, and places a particular focus on English-language sources. There are helpful sections to issues such as the New Perspective of Paul, Historical Jesus, and canonical issues like the Gospel of Thomas and Secret Mark. Concerning application, it is evident throughout the 900+ pages that the authors want the reader to do more than merely master the material on a cognitive level. There is a continual and intentional emphasis on application, especially seen within the Theological Themes sections and the Something to Think About sidebars.
In short, while the market will continue to be saturated with New Testament introductions The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown is unique in several respects. It is consistently user-friendly, comprehensive, conservative, balanced, up-to-date, and application driven. Out of the 28 New Testament introductions that I own, for the reasons outlined above, The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown will be the first off the shelf, and likely the last.