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Encountering the New Testament, 3rd Edition

A Historical and Theological Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies

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Studying the New Testament can be an exciting--and intimidating--experience. This readable survey is designed to make the adventure less daunting and more rewarding. Two senior scholars offer a new edition of their award-winning introductory text, now with updated content and a new interior design. Other distinguishing features include abundant images, maps, and charts--all in full color; sidebars that address ethical and theological concerns and provide primary source material; focus boxes isolating key issues; chapter outlines, learning objectives, and summaries; and study questions.

This book is accompanied by free online resources. Click the red eSources banner above for more information.


To the Professor
To the Student
1. Why Study the New Testament?
Part 1: Encountering Jesus and the Gospels
2. The Middle East in the Days of Jesus
3. The Gospel and the Four Gospels
4. The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah Has Come!
5. The Gospel of Mark: Son of God, Servant of All
6. The Gospel of Luke: A Savior for All People
7. The Gospel of John: Eternal Life through His Name
8. Man from Galilee: The Life of Jesus Christ
9. Lord, Teach Us: The Teaching Ministry of Jesus Christ
10. Modern Approaches to the New Testament: Historical Criticism and Hermeneutics
11. The Modern Study of the Gospels
12. The Modern Search for Jesus
Part 2: Encountering Acts and the Earliest Church
13. The World and Identity of the Earliest Church
14. Acts 1-7: The Earliest Days of the Church
15. Acts 8-12: Salvation for Both Jew and Gentile
16. Acts 13-28: The Light of Christ to the Ends of the Earth
Part 3: Encountering Paul and His Epistles
17. All Things to All People: Life and Teachings of the Apostle Paul
18. Romans: Right with God
19. Corinthians and Galatians: Apostolic Counsel for Confused Churches
20. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon: Letters from Prison
21. Thessalonians, Timothy, and Titus: A Legacy of Faithfulness
Part 4: Encountering the General Epistles and the Apocalypse
22. Hebrews and James: Maintaining Full Commitment to Christ
23. Peter, John, and Jude: A Call to Faith, Hope, and Love
24. Revelation: God Is in Control!
Epilogue: Matters to Ponder

The Authors

  1. Walter A. Elwell

    Walter A. Elwell

    Walter A. Elwell (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is professor emeritus of New Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School in Wheaton, Illinois, where he taught for 27 years and served as dean. He has written or edited numerous books, reference works,...

    Continue reading about Walter A. Elwell

  2. Robert W. Yarbrough

    Robert W. Yarbrough

    Robert W. Yarbrough (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He lectures internationally and is the author, editor, or translator of numerous books, articles, and reviews.

    Continue reading about Robert W. Yarbrough


"This third edition of Encountering the New Testament continues in the great tradition of the Encountering Biblical Studies series and contains helpful improvements from the previous edition. . . . The design of this edition is much more user-friendly. The picture selection has been updated. Similarly, the font type and size of the sidebars and focus boxes and their locations on the pages render the text more readable. In addition, the bibliography in the 'Further Reading' section is updated and contains very helpful resources. Additional key terms are identified, and the glossary provided at the end of the book is very useful. . . . The authors have succeeded in offering a succinct yet valuable treatment of the text of New Testament, its world, and its people. The thematic approach has made it possible for them to highlight key teachings and events in each book and provide a helpful entrée to the study of the New Testament. The visual aids help bring the world of the text to life and enhance the readers' understanding of the background materials. The discussions not only raise awareness of the theological importance of the message of the New Testament but highlight its contemporary relevance and implications for living. . . . This book is an excellent introductory manual to the New Testament."

Abson Joseph,

Review of Biblical Literature

"[The book's] previous editions were well received by professors and students. . . . With the third edition the authors strive to produce a New Testament survey that is more clear, concise, and up-to-date than previous versions. The authors' goal is to survey the New Testament canon with a special concern to identify and discuss the major theological themes of the New Testament. In addition, they seek to provide a basic understanding of the historical context within which the writings emerged. The authors successfully accomplish their goals. A careful reading of Encountering the New Testament will result in students gaining a sound theological and historical foundation for the New Testament from a conservative Evangelical perspective. . . . Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey is one of the better surveys to appear. I highly recommend this work."

Michael L. Bryant,

Southeastern Theological Review

"I have used both books [Encountering the Old Testament and Encountering the New Testament] in Bible Survey courses and found them to be excellent textbooks for an undergrad, freshman level course. . . . Both books are written by solid evangelicals and demonstrate a commitment to the inspiration and authority of the Bible. . . . Both books are richly illustrated and have many side-bars and charts to help the student manage the information presented in the chapters. . . . Each chapter has clear objectives and a set of key words that the student ought to be able to define and describe after reading [the] chapter. There are a number of text-boxes containing parallel literature . . . or longer quotes from contemporary scholarship. Some boxes deal with theological issues. . . . These books are well-designed for use in a classroom. My impression is that they will be welcome in a conservative undergraduate environment, although there is enough depth in each book that they could be used in Introduction courses at the seminary level. . . . Both books would be excellent for an interested layperson who wants to develop their knowledge of the Old and New Testaments."

Phillip J. Long,

Reading Acts blog

Praise for the Second Edition

"This new version of [the authors'] 1998 textbook involves a general updating that covers the whole book but does not change its essential content and structure. . . . This is a beautifully produced, user-friendly book introducing students to the NT."

Peter Oakes,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"A great amount of the rewriting is found in the focus boxes; twelve of the twenty-five have been changed in the second edition. . . . The bibliographies have also been updated and a few new footnotes have been added to reflect works not available in 1998 when the first edition appeared. . . . The textbook continues to be pedagogically sound, visually oriented, with a good introduction to the historical background of the NT and a satisfactory discussion of the purpose, structure, and major themes of each NT book. . . . This second edition of Encountering the New Testament will continue to find a prominent place in the undergraduate study of the NT."

Keith Essex,

Master's Seminary Journal

"This highly colorful, visually-pleasing New Testament survey is part of the excellent Encountering Biblical Studies series. . . . [It] comes with a bonus that should become the standard for survey texts: a helpful CD-ROM. . . . The book is well organized. Written for college students as well as laity, it is certainly attention-getting. Every other page contains at least one colorful picture, map, chart, or highlighted text box. . . . The writers present an excellent survey of the New Testament. The material is accurate and well researched. . . . This book will work well as a text for college New Testament survey class. Icons clearly delineate the focus of each section of text: from primary source quotations to focus boxes highlighting key issues. Chapters begin with a clear outline and stated objectives, and they conclude with summary statements, review questions, study questions, and suggestions for further reading--all helpful to encourage further study for the reader. . . . Encountering the New Testament makes a fine college textbook as well as an excellent text for lay people to learn more about the New Testament."

James R. Wicker,

Southwestern Journal of Theology

Praise for the First Edition

"With this textbook we have arrived at an entirely new era in theological publishing. This volume is a production masterpiece. . . . This textbook has so many strengths that it may well become the standard for the next generation of teaching college and university freshmen in the United States."

Craig Blomberg,


"This is the best, most useful college textbook for introduction to the NT that I have seen. It covers all the essential areas of such a course with clarity, scholarship, and a pleasing visual appeal. . . . I highly recommend the text to all teachers and students who want to understand the NT while remaining confident of its inspired authority and power to transform the individual."

Edwin Reynolds,

Andrews University Seminary Studies

"I may perhaps be bold enough to predict that Encountering the New Testament . . . will become a classic. . . . Encountering the New Testament is clearly and flatly that unmistakable thing--a masterpiece."

David Alan Black,

Faith and Mission

"Encountering the New Testament is a highly commendable introduction to the study of the New Testament. The text provides a fine foundation upon which a professor in a classroom can build."

Robert W. Bernard,

Southwestern Journal of Theology

"Seeking to build a foundation for a lifetime of encountering God through scriptural study, the authors aim to present the factual content of each New Testament book, introduce background information, outline hermeneutical principles, touch on critical issues, and substantiate the Christian faith."

New Testament Abstracts

"Attractively produced with maps and photographs, review and study questions, summaries and suggestions for further reading. Introductory matters including geographical and historical background, the modern search for Jesus and the critical approach to scripture are all given due consideration. . . . The learning process is enhanced by means of a multimedia CD-ROM."

Expository Times

"Included in good pedagogical fashion are various study aids: key people, places, summaries, review questions. The suggestions for further reading are even-handed and by no means limited to an evangelical viewpoint. The book is beautifully illustrated with photos, maps, and diagrams."

Casimir Bernas,

Religious Studies Review

"An excellent evangelical Bible survey resource. This volume does more than simply present the content of each New Testament book. Historical, cultural, and geographical backgrounds are interwoven to help readers understand the broader context in which Scripture must be understood. . . . Easy to read and visually pleasing, this volume includes many features both teachers and students will find useful. . . . This is a good resource for students and lifelong learners alike."

Pam Betker,

Bibliotheca Sacra

"How textbooks have changed! It now takes a village to write a textbook and the benefits are evident both visually and pedagogically in this appealing first volume of Baker's Encountering Biblical Studies series for undergraduates. The 'special effects' provided by the educational and graphic consultants enhance the substantial and thoroughly evangelical content. . . . This attractive and well-prepared volume should do well in the Christian college textbook market for which it has been designed. It would also be a wonderful addition to church libraries and could cheerfully be recommended to anyone interested in learning more about the New Testament."

James A. Meeks,


"Encountering the New Testament is designed to be an introductory text for students coming to the study of the New Testament for the first time. It is an excellent resource for this purpose, and will likely find a wide acceptance on both sides of the Atlantic not only for its clear, concise summaries of the state-of-the-art in contemporary scholarship, but also for the attractive way in which it is presented, and its clearly articulated educational orientation. . . . All in all, though, this has to be one of the most attractive packages available, written by scholars of impeccable reputation in an easily accessible style that will be eminently relevant to the needs of today's students of the New Testament."

John Drane,

Scottish Journal of Religious Studies

"The overall combination of textbook with CD-ROM, resource manual, and reader presents an attractive, engaging, and competent introduction for undergraduates. As I said at the outset, it is a new benchmark."

Larry R. Helyer,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Teachers and students will find the book useful for its purpose. Aspects of history, geography, sociology, criticism, and theology are introduced. Both volumes should be in Bible colleges and seminary libraries. Pastors and interested laypeople will also benefit from them."

David W. Baker,

Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin

"The authors are to be credited with accomplishing what they set out to do. New Testament teachers will find these books a great resource and their students will find these works interesting reading."

Douglas J. Culver,

Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin

"While expressing sound Christian belief and devotion, [this book] demonstrates a mastery of the New Testament in its ancient setting."

Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin

"This work is highly recommended for both its informative value and the unique accomplishment for a bibliography, it is interesting and entertaining to read."

The Master's Seminary Journal

"Immediately striking. Geared to our visual age, full-page pictures and multicolored diagrams captivate the reader. The computer-literate reader is furthermore enticed by pictorial CD that is included to stimulate further study. . . . The strength of this work is its brevity, accuracy, and loyalty to the Scripture. . . . Clear, concise, and interesting."

Dean Deppe,

Calvin Theological Journal