Book Notice: The State of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research

Scot McKnight and Nijay K. Gupta, eds. The State of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019. 512 pages. $42.99 (paperback).

As the field of New Testament studies continues to flourish in the twenty-first century, it is increasingly difficult for scholars—let alone students and pastors—to stay abreast of developing trends across the discipline. In The State of New Testament Studies, Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, IL, and Nijay Gupta, Associate Professor of New Testament at Portland Seminary in Portland, OR, offer an accessible resource with contributions from both up-and-coming scholars and world-class experts mapping the landscape of New Testament studies over the last couple decades.

This volume is intended as an update of The Face of New Testament Studies (published in 2004, also edited by Scot McKnight along with Grant Osborne) and follows a similar format. Part One addresses the ancient context in which the New Testament was written and contains a chapter by Greg Carey on the relationship between early Christianity and the Roman Empire as well as a chapter by Lynn Cohick on the study of women in the ancient social context. Part Two deals with recent developments in the interpretation of the New Testament, including interpretive approaches (Dennis Edwards), the use of the Old Testament in the New (Matthew Bates), the genre of the Gospels (Wes Olmstead), and advances in the study of Greek grammar (Dana Harris). Part Three focuses on several different topics in New Testament theology—historical Jesus studies (Rebekah Eklund), New Testament Christology (David Capes), Paul’s Jewish identity (Michael Bird), Pauline Theology (Michael Gorman), eschatology (Patrick Mitchel), and ethics (Nijay Gupta). Finally, Part Four addresses various developments in scholarship regarding each book of the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation.

McKnight and Gupta provide a solid follow-up to its predecessor, but this book is better used as a complement to the previous volume than as an update. With its narrow focus on twenty-first century trends, readers may at times find themselves disconnected from the historical developments that led to these trends. Several contributors provide this historical context in their chapters, but the volume is uneven. There is some natural overlap between the material covered in Part Four (the book-by-book presentation of recent research) and that in the rest of the book, but this is inevitable. The editors have made an effort to include global and minority voices. The contributors and content are broadly evangelical, but conservative evangelicals will find themselves disagreeing with presuppositions in some chapters. In addition, the book is written for scholars and students rather than for a popular audience, and readers with no training in New Testament studies may be overwhelmed by technical terminology. Nevertheless, students will appreciate helpful introductions to various topics to which they can refer, pastors with theological training will find guidance for navigating recent commentaries, and scholars will benefit from a digest of developments in New Testament studies beyond their own specialization.

CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. The present book notice was written by Daniel Brueske, a Ph.D. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.


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