Interpreting the New Testament

by David Alan Black and Davis S. Dockery, e

Scholars and serious Bible students will appreciate this book because it treats in some detail problems of New Testament interpretation that one cannot find in many Bible study books. More than a score of Bible scholars treat subjects ranging from linguistics to history, from the synoptic Gospels to the Pauline letters. Let us focus on "Part II: Basic Methods in New Testament Interpretation."

Six writers give us expanded articles on as many methods of New Testament interpretation. Textual criticism examines the ancient Greek texts and seeks to ascertain the original documents. No original New Testament documents exist, but textual criticism has been able to reconstruct its original meaning with amazing accuracy.

Source criticism seeks to find the sources that gave rise to various books of the Bible, especially the synoptic Gospels. Which was written first: Matthew, Mark or Luke? Where did the writer get his material? Did the writer talk with eyewitnesses or was he himself an eyewitness? Did one of the synoptic writers borrow from another's writings or did he talk with the writer? The source critic tries to find the answer to these questions.

Form criticism, at its simplest, attempts to trace the prehistory of biblical documents as to its genre. Was the original form of a biblical text a narrative, a parable, a tale, or another popular form of literature? Form criticism has been carried to heretical extremes, but its correct usage can yield insight into New Testament literature.

Three additional writers contributed essays on redaction criticism, literary criticism and sociological criticism.

More than a dozen writers provide additional essays to challenge the serious student of the Bible. Articles on interpreting the books of John, The Acts, the Pauline Epistles, and The Revelation round out the usefulness of this volume.