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The New Testament in its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature and Theology of the First Christians [9780281082711]

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The two series of books by N. T. Wright, Christian Origins and the Question of God and The New Testament for Everyone, constitute a mixture of academic and popular writing that has proved hugely influential among Christian students and general readers of all denominations. This introduction to the New Testament draws on and supplements key parts of those books to create a lively, student-friendly textbook for use in seminaries and universities throughout the world.
The inclusion of full-colour maps, diagrams, charts and photos, along with special features on key issues of interpretation and major theological topics, will ensure that this introduction fully meets the needs of a new generation of Bible students. It will also prove invaluable to church leaders, homegroups and others who want to better understand the foundation documents of the faith and how we can best interpret and apply them to today.


This impressive, colourful book deserves wide readership. The product of nine years work, it brings together the best of Professor N.T. Wright’s scholarly writings. Bird is a distinguished New Testament theologian, and their collaborative effort is formidable.

It is attractive, accessible and informative – and worthy of a five-star rating. Alongside it, the publishers have produced a workbook, video and audio lectures, providing a comprehensive introduction to the New Testament. As the two authors comment in the Preface; ‘We want to cultivate a commitment to a specific account of Christian history, literature, theology and mission.’

It is divided into nine sections which, taken together, provide a comprehensive overview of the world in which the New Testament was written and the heart of the message it conveys. The authors hold a high view of this extraordinary collection of books and letters, considering it ‘the greatest and most important book ever produced.’

Preachers are busy people, and there are not enough hours in a day to read everything recommended. So rather than add another ‘book you should read’ to an overfull list, I want to suggest six reasons why this one is worth it.

1. It provides a well-written introduction to every book in the New Testament, from two world-class scholars.

2. It’s an enjoyable read. The layout is clear with handy sidebars, photos and quotable quotes.

3. It’s mind-stretching. You may not agree with everything, but it will make you think carefully about the different views.

4. It tackles some tough questions. For example, ‘Did Jesus think he was God? Was the tomb really empty on day three?’

5. It unlocks and explains the world Jesus and his first disciples inhabited. Preachers called to teach and apply the text in Coventry need to understand what it meant first in Capernaum.

6. It answers the So what?’ question brilliantly. This is desperately needed in our preaching. Christian theology is storied theology. This book explains discipleship and how we are called to step into the unfolding story of God’s mission to the world.

Buy two copies. Keep one and give the second to a preacher who needs some encouragement.

Reviewed by Ian Coffey, who is Vice Principal (Strategy) at Moorlands College where he teaches preaching and leadership.

Preach magazine book review by Ian Coffey

AUTHOR: Nicholas Thomas Wright FRSE (also N. T. Wright or Tom Wright; born 1 December 1948) is an English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired Anglican bishop. Between 2003 and 2010, he was the Bishop of Durham. He then became Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St Mary's College in the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

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N.T. Wright
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