Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions  -     By: David Croteau
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Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions

B&H Academic / 2015 / Paperback

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* A fresh look at 40 commonly misunderstood New Testament passages. Avoiding misinterpretations and incorrect translations of ancient Greek, Croteau offers a brief explanation of each text and then carefully clarifies its historical, cultural, and literary context. Discover the truth about the events surrounding Jesus's birth, his occupation, hell's location, and more. 288 pages, softcover from B&H.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: B&H Academic
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 9 X 6 X .7 (inches)
ISBN: 1433680122
ISBN-13: 9781433680120

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Publisher's Description

Urban Legends of the New Testament surveys forty of the most commonly misinterpreted passages in the New Testament. These "urban legends" often arise because interpreters neglect a passage’s context, misuse historical background information, or misunderstand the Greek language. For each New Testament text, professor David Croteau describes the popular, incorrect interpretation and then carefully interprets the passage within its literary and historical context. Careful attention is given to sound principles of biblical interpretation to guide readers through the process and reach a more accurate understanding of each text’s meaning. QR codes have been inserted at various points throughout the book. By scanning the code with your mobile device, you can view a video of David Croteau addressing a specific urban legend.
 
With examples from the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation, Urban Legends of the New Testament will not only help readers avoid missteps in these forty texts but also provide a model for engaging in correct interpretation of other New Testament passages.

Author Bio

David A. Croteau (Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament and Greek in the Seminary and School of Ministry at Columbia International University. He is co-editor (with Andreas J. Köstenberger) of Which Bible Translation Should I Use? (B&H Academic, 2013) and author of Tithing after the Cross (Energion, 2013).

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  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Review from Rambles of a SAHM
    April 11, 2016
    Fitzysmom
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Urban Legends of the New Testament is absolutely fascinating and left me feeling quite sheepish. Before reading this book if you would have asked me if I thought I knew my Bible well I would have pretty confidently said yes. I've been to Bible College and sat through class after class learning a hermeneutical approach to understanding the text.

    The very first urban legend bowled me over. The title of the chapter is There Was No Room at the Inn and it covers the Scriptures from Luke 2:1-7. A very familiar passage. So familiar in fact that I would hazard a guess that most of us can recite it from memory. After reading Croteau's chapter on it I have to laugh at not only my preconceptions but also those of the vast majority. As a credit to him I can honestly say that I will never again read that portion of Scripture in the same way.

    The second urban legend was entitled We Three Kings of Orient Are. By the end of the chapter I was cheering because I actually already knew the misconceptions. A big thanks goes out to Dr. Sherman for that one! Of course I didn't have long before I was once again astounded at my lack of understanding. But sure enough when I compared Croteau's notes with Scripture it came out just the way he said it would.

    This book is designed to be a pseudo text book, but I'm here to tell you that it doesn't read like one. It is quite reader friendly and I think that anyone who reads their Bible would enjoy reading this book as well. Croteau has a way of presenting complicated scenarios and facts so that even the non Bible student can grasp and retain. In fact his whole approach is one of discovery rather than shaming for not knowing in the first place. It's a very refreshing way of teaching.

    I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any Christian whether a lay-person or a church staff member. Even if you know each of the forty passages and completely understand their meaning I am sure you will be able to take away some nuggets that will enhance your walk with Christ.

    I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
  2. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Easy to read, quick reference
    January 14, 2016
    Charis
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    In our day and age wikipedia or google can justify any biblical "fact". This book helps dispel some wildly accepted myths in strong arguments, sound hermenuetics, and reliable historical context.
  3. Michigan
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Helpful, Engaging, and Insightful.
    September 26, 2015
    John M Kight
    Michigan
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    David Croteau is the professor of New Testament & Greek at Columbia International University. Croteau holds a Th.M. and Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the editor and contributor to a number of books, including You Mean I dont have to Tithe? A Biblical and Theological Analysis of Tithing (Wipf & Stock, 2010), Perspectives on Tithing (B&H Academic, 2011), and Which Bible Translation Should I Use? Leading Experts Discuss 4 Major Versions (B&H Academic, 2012). Croteau has also published several articles in Bulletin of Biblical Research and Masters Seminary Journal. Most recently, Croteau rattles cages with the release of a challenging and yet helpful volume, Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions (B&H Academic, 2015).

    In Urban Legends of the New Testament, Croteau seeks to deconstruct 40 interpretive myths, or urban legends, encountered in the New Testament text. An urban legend, according to Croteau, is a commonly circulated myth, repeated throughout the culture as common knowledge, but which isnt true (p. xiii). Croteau continues, interpretations of certain passages in the New Testament have fallen victim to this. Somehow something false is stated, and it gets heard and passed down without someone checking all the facts (p. xiii). Today many such urban legends exists within both the pulpit and the pews, and continue to be circulated without hesitation. It is here that Croteau embodies a clear voice of reason as he calls the reader to set aside tradition for the sake of exegesis and interpretation.

    Urban Legends of the New Testament tackles a number of well-known urban legends. But, Croteau also addresses some that may be less familiar to the average reader. For example, some of the urban legends include, the Eye of a Needle being a gate in Jerusalem (pp. 6166) and Hell being a reference to a First-Century garbage dump near Jerusalem (pp. 4954). Each chapter is titled after the urban legend itself, not the correct interpretation of the text(s) at hand(p. xiv), followed by a brief explanation. Subsequently, Croteau deconstructs each of the legends and provides a positive exegesis for his understanding of the correct interpretation. Finally, Croteau concludes each chapter with a section devoted to the application of his presentation, as well as an annotated bibliography divided by resource type (i.e. books, journals, websites, etc.) for further study.

    Personally I found Croteau to be both a model of integrity and a true exemplar of compassion in his handling of each of the 40 urban legends. He is engaging and consistent across the board in his treatment of these misunderstanding, and his tone is truly something to be admired. I also found the application section to be extremely helpful in processing the specific legends, especially for the pastor or teacher who would take on the responsibility of exposing such myths. Still, the reader must be fully prepared for the possibility of a challenge when picking up this book, because Urban Legends of the New Testament is sure to expose the presence of some urban legends in their own thought. Of course, if this breaks down the wall of bad hermeneutic and re-shapes a more faithful understanding of the text, who could be opposed to such challenge? In the end, if you still find yourself at ends with Croteaus conclusion, I am confident that you will still walk away encouraged by the carefulness he exemplifies as he handles the biblical text. This book comes highly recommended!
  4. 2 Stars Out Of 5
    Not much to write home about......
    August 7, 2015
    Michael Kramarczyk
    Quality: 1
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    This book could be summed up with one word.....CONTEXT. This is repeated constantly, and rightfully so, with all the moral relativism going on in the church now. However, the constant harping to the Greek definitions is tiring. That's what a dictionary is for. Recommending a noxious amount of Bible translations also doesn't help. (See the prior sentence) Instead of clarifying a situation it just muddies the water. Not worth the money!
  5. 3 Stars Out Of 5
    Interesting read, as long as the reader acknowledges the intention(s) of the author
    July 24, 2015
    Yale religion student
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions by David A. Croteau

    Rating: 3.5/5

    I would like to express my thanks to the B&H Publishing Group for providing me with a review copy of the book and giving me the opportunity to review.

    In the 21st century, the Bible is often upheld as a divinely inspired book that is meant to have authority over a Christian's daily life. Of course, Christianity extends far past a simple reading of 'what the Bible says' and includes ever-changing traditions and customs from its two-thousand-year history. Along with providing a great deal of diverse thought and experience for generations of Christians, some of these traditions can also mislead devotees and provide misinformation to congregants. These 'urban legends' circles around Christian communities in preachers' sermons and eisegetical readings of the New Testament narratives. In his recent book, David A. Croteau tackles forty of the most common urban legends that exist in Western Christian churches. Croteau writes from the perspective of an evangelical Christian, who is intent on providing a historically and theological correct interpretation of New Testament texts for a lay audience. He clearly distinguishes between mistaken legends (legends that contains no correct information) and misleading legends (legends that are simply incomplete or are partially incorrect). In each mini-chapter, Croteau establishes the urban legend as if he himself believed it, so that the audience might be fully immersed in the assumption and wrestle with the root of the misconception. He then attempts to unravel each urban legend by providing historical context, Greek exegetical work, or backgrounds (which, for Croteau, usually involve respected commentaries). Finally, Croteau concludes each mini-chapter with application of the corrected interpretation to an everyday Christian's lifestyle.

    The most convincing arguments provided in the forty mini-chapters usually center on historical context and knowledgable application of ancient Greek. A few examples that I found most helpful for the lay audience include the "there was no room in the inn for Mary" myth and the "hell was a first-century garbage dump" myth. In unraveling the inn legend, Croteau appeals to archeological evidence in first-century Palestine in order to prove that the "inn" () was actually the guest room of a house, which might have been filled at the time of Mary and Joseph's arrival. Instead of an outdoor manger being the birthplace of Jesus, Croteau argues that mangers were often placed in the larger family room or the smaller animal room. In either case, Mary and Joseph would have remained within the household, but would not have found lodging in the . When discussing the garbage dump, usually referred to as Gehenna, Croteau appeals to writings in the Hebrew Bible that describe Gehenna/The Valley of Hinnom as a horrible place used by worshippers of Molech. Croteau understands Jesus to be using Gehenna in a fashion that mimics prophetic texts and hyperbolizes Gehenna into a place of desolation. Croteau rightfully urges his audience to prioritize context when interpreting Biblical passages, so that misinformation can be eradicated or dismissed quickly.

    On the other hand, since Croteau is unraveling these urban legends from an evangelical standpoint, his writing may not appeal to audiences outside of Christian boundaries or to those that take a more liberal position within the study of early Christianity. Any audience must understand that this sourcebook for New Testament urban legends is intended for more evangelical communities, who wish to inch closer to an original and correct interpretation of their canonical texts. However, Croteau does make some bold statements that might surprise an inquisitive reader. For example, Croteau sometimes assumes that situations would be difficult to imagine (such as the rejection of Mary and Joseph when they first enter Bethlehem), yet he does not provide much evidence as to why this might be difficult. Croteau also takes a major stance by claiming that Jesus was born around late 5 BCE/early 4 BCE, had a two-year ministry, and died on April 3, 33 CE. These bold stances on such a highly debated chronology might be seen as overconfident and misleading to a lay audience. Finally, those who are invested in Middle Eastern politics might find Croteau's usage of "Israel" distasteful, since he uses the term to describe first-century Judea (and Galilee, to an extent). Since Israel fell in the 8th century BCE to the Assyrians, many scholars avoid conflating Israel with first-century Judea, due to modern political claims that attempt to connect "Biblical Israel" to "the State of Israel."

    Overall, Croteau encourages his lay audience to stay cautious during sermons and conversations concerning the New Testament. Each mini-chapter ends with further resources that one might use in order to dig deeper into exegetical, theological, and historical contexts. Croteau's book urges readers to seek context whenever Biblical passages are used in a theological or historical claim, so that more Christians might become informed concerning these popular legends and the effects of their misinformation. In order to put these urban legends to rest, lay audiences must follow in Croteau's footsteps and continually examine contexts behind and throughout the Bible.
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