Introducing the New Testament

A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey

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This engaging and up-to-date New Testament introduction has been carefully designed for the classroom. Mark Allan Powell presents disputed and controversial issues fairly, neither dictating conclusions nor privileging skepticism over faith-based perspectives. A recognized expert in New Testament scholarly literature, he nevertheless writes in a lively and lucid style that communicates well to undergraduates. Chapters appear in the book in canonical order but are designed for assignment in any order. Besides helpful teaching aids like sidebars, maps, tables, charts, glossary, diagrams, and suggestions for further reading, this full-color textbook also includes beautiful artwork illustrating the reception of the New Testament through various times and cultures.

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Endorsements

"Drawing on several decades of effective classroom teaching, Mark Allan Powell has produced the quintessential 'user-friendly' introduction to the New Testament, which should be a welcome addition to any New Testament teacher's pedagogical resources. Three features distinguish this introduction from most others in the field, and all of them serve to draw the reader into the world of the New Testament text in compelling and attractive ways. First, Powell encourages and empowers his readers to engage the issues raised by the New Testament documents and the solutions to those issues but without drawing definitive (and for the reader, perhaps premature) conclusions. Second, with stunning effect, Powell uses visual images (maps, historical photographs, and especially examples from the history of Christian art) both for their aesthetic appeal and as examples of the text's continuing influence on subsequent culture. Third, throughout the text Powell provides markers that point to a companion Web site that contains additional material for further study and reflection beyond the book and course. With Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey, Mark Allan Powell has put student and teacher alike in his debt, and for this we are all grateful."

Mikeal C. Parsons, Kidd L. and Buna Hitchcock Macon Chair in Religion, Baylor University

"Mark Allan Powell's Introducing the New Testament is just what today's students need: the length is right, the perspective balanced and fair, the choice of content perfect, the layout reader-friendly and attractive, and the author is a respected New Testament scholar and popular classroom teacher. Adopting this book as the primary text for introductory Bible courses (in a college, seminary, or church) is a no-brainer. I recommend it highly."

Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia

"Beautifully presented, accessibly written, clearly organized, and attentive to the beginning student. Both students and faculty will benefit from engaging this book."

Stephen E. Fowl, professor of theology, Loyola College in Maryland

"Mark Allan Powell's Introducing the New Testament is a real gem, a true diamond, not in the rough but well polished. Like a diamond, it reflects the multifaceted beauty of the New Testament text. Like a diamond, it is a concentrate of years of scholarship. Like a diamond, it is a thing of beauty, with its artistic reproductions and useful illustrations. Like a diamond, it is valuable, with a wealth of information that is not readily available elsewhere in any one place."

Raymond F. Collins, Warren Blanding Professor of Religion emeritus, The Catholic University of America; visiting scholar, Brown University

"This splendid introduction to the New Testament is vivid, engaging, and designed to reach a broad audience. Its clear and accessible style invites contemporary readers into the biblical world, while the colorful graphics catch the eye and stimulate the imagination. Historical, literary, and theological questions are addressed in ways that invite readers to venture further into the scriptures. As a resource for teachers and students, it is excellent."

Craig R. Koester, professor of New Testament, Luther Seminary


The Author

  1. Mark Allan Powell

    Mark Allan Powell

    Mark Allan Powell (PhD, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond) is the Robert and Phyllis Leatherman Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary. He is the general editor of the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary as well as the author of numerous...

    Continue reading about Mark Allan Powell

Reviews

"Mark Allan Powell's Introducing the New Testament is a textbook primarily for college or seminary students. But it's [also] a lay reader-friendly primer on the history and theology of Christian scripture. . . . Powell is especially good at summarizing Palestine's history and cultural influences in the centuries before Jesus and during his life."

Rich Barlow,

The Boston Globe

"[Powell] has done a rather successful job of keeping each chapter independent of the others so they can be treated in any desired arrangement. . . . [The] companion website . . . is one of the most detailed, well-conceived and well-organized, and user-friendly websites designed to accompany a textbook in biblical studies. A wealth of material is to be had here. . . . All these features are also accessible through a mobile application, which makes them viewable and quite usable on small-screen devices. . . . This vast array of material makes it possible to provide greater depth on any given area of New Testament study or give students direction and impetus on research projects or independent study. It also creates the possibility of using the text for an expanded, multisemester study of the New Testament or for a more rigorous graduate-level course. . . . The book is indeed written in a clear and easy style that is suitable to undergrads and is organized in a way that is conducive to study. Yet the material is not 'dumbed down' or oversimplified by any means, so that it would work well in a graduate setting. The first-noticed and perhaps most striking feature of this book is its visual appeal, with numerous photographs and specially prepared color maps, but most especially the more than one hundred full-color reproductions of Christian artwork from across the centuries and cultures. . . . With this physically attractive and user-friendly volume, Professor Powell has provided a fine introduction that will guide students in reading the New Testament closely and help them to see what the important interpretive issues are and why. He acquaints students with the history of interpretation without overwhelming and invites those who want to probe further to do so with confidence and balance. Above all, he has offered the fruit of his years of teaching to make 'introducing the New Testament' academically a lively and rewarding experience."

Peter J. Judge,

Review of Biblical Literature

"This elegant undergraduate introduction to the NT by Mark Allan Powell is as engaging, accessible, and instructive as it is beautiful. . . . As well as ample maps, high-quality photographs of relevant sites, and artefacts from the worlds of the NT, the effect of the volume is significantly enhanced by classical and contemporary religious art and a layout which permits ease of approach and consideration of how the NT has been received over the generations. . . . Introducing the New Testament has its own dedicated website providing resources for students and teachers: chapter summaries, maps, bibliographies, and supplementary materials which provide deeper perspectives on certain topics and may serve as a bridge to more advanced study. The author and his collaborators have significantly enhanced the usability of the volume by designing the chapters so that they can be studied 'in almost any order.'. . . An outstanding introduction to the NT which will permit many students--especially those rooted in faith communities--to discover the NT with openness and without fear."

Séamus O'Connell,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"Teachers at the college and seminary level are always on the lookout for good textbooks, especially for introductory courses. Well-known scholar and writer Mark Allan Powell . . . does his peers a great favor in producing this excellent introduction to the New Testament. It is thoroughly geared to the classroom, offering clear and solid information on the context and content of the various New Testament books. The textbook is beautifully presented, with full-color photos, maps, and charts--and, an added bonus, with carefully selected reproductions of art, both classical and modern, that are aptly matched with the content of the book. . . . There is also an accompanying website available to teacher and student that provides additional information, including outlines and ready-made Power Point presentations. Reflecting Powell's own style and commitment, the Introduction does not hesitate to deal with the New Testament as a religious book--all the while respecting the freedom of the reader."

Donald Senior, CP,

The Bible Today

"[Mark Allan Powell's] scholarly interests in the [New Testament] field have been wide ranging. This, along with his gift for clear and engaging prose, equip him well for the genre of an introductory text on the New Testament. The invitation to write a review of Dr. Powell's Introducing the New Testament coincided fortuitously with my use of the text in an undergraduate New Testament Theology course. . . . Eight students, representing a range of ages and backgrounds, responded to my invitation to write their own reviews of Powell's book. . . . Each of the students reviewing the text emphasized (and many celebrated) the clarity of its writing style. . . . Most reviewers also noted with appreciation the definition of key terms in the margins, adding that such aids greatly assisted their understanding of the material. More impressively, all of the students found the writing style engaging to the point that they actually (and repeatedly) characterized the text as 'interesting,' even 'very interesting.' One proclaimed it 'marvelous.' This is no small feat for a textbook in an introductory undergraduate class! . . . All complimented the text's use of color, photography, and art to capture their attention and engage their senses. . . . The students also appreciated its layout and the types of information Powell included. . . . Students familiar with the Christian theological tradition recognized and appreciated the balanced way Powell presented matters on which biblical scholars are divided. I concur with the assessment provided by my students. In sum, the text provides a wealth of information relevant to the study of the New Testament, and does so in a fashion that is both exceptionally accessible and engaging. Though its publisher appears to be targeting an undergraduate audience, the text could also function well in a graduate New Testament course as a solid platform from which to venture more deeply into areas of the instructor's choosing. . . . Congratulations to Dr. Powell for providing such a fine text for students and instructors of the New Testament."

Karl Allen Kuhn,

Trinity Seminary Review

"The engaging style of writing and the aesthetically pleasing layout, as well as the maps, sidebars, and glossary, recommend this book to its intended audience of students at a college, university, or seminary. In particular, the skill with which Powell addresses the concerns of those who come to the New Testament with faith commitments toward the methods and findings of historical critical methods makes this book particularly ideal for students and lay people of a faith persuasion."

Agnes Choi,

Biblical Theology Bulletin

"This book is a joy to read. Very attractively presented, it offers a combination of information in narrative and table form and careful scholarly debate, leavened with examples of artwork from a wide range of cultures and ages. . . . A huge advantage of this book is the web-site which supports it. . . . I used this textbook, alongside others, in my introductory Jesus and the Gospels module, and it was well-received. The ability to use the information from the web-site in a classroom setting was useful and time-saving. . . . The balance of information offered is ideal, and the space given to hermeneutical issues helpful. . . . A highly recommended textbook for introductory courses at University and College level, but also a book which could be enjoyed by anyone interested in exploring the New Testament in an engaging and academically rigorous way."

Alison Jack,

Expository Times

"An excellent contribution to the teaching of NT studies. . . . [This text] is exceptionally well written. The style is engaging, and Powell has an enviable ability to treat complex subjects in understandable language. . . . The art work is superb--colorful, extensive, and carefully chosen to correlate with the subjects treated in the various chapters. Additional features that contribute to the book's user-friendliness are small notes in the margin that define key terms and larger, colored boxes that contain various types of enrichment materials and charts. . . . Colorful maps are also among the book's attractive features, and the website includes such resources as flash cards and self-quizzes for the student, and test banks and Powerpoint outlines for the professor. . . . Introducing the New Testament is a fine tool for teaching the NT that students should find appealing. It is informed by sound scholarship, it presents the subject matter in an engaging way, and its format is attractive. As it stands, it is perhaps the most appropriate for the undergraduate level; but with supplementation and emphasis upon the material in the hyperlinks, it could serve a seminary audience equally well."

Russell Pregeant,

Interpretation

"Powell is able to bring years of experience and insight from the academy, the classroom, and the church into a single volume introducing the NT for either college or seminary students. . . . The use of a website over and against a CD-ROM is to be commended. . . . Dozens of photographs throughout the book display examples of Christian art . . . to convey the history and diversity of Christian influence on surrounding culture. Technical terms are defined on the spot with occasional sidebars, and Powell is able to reduce the complexities of tedious subjects . . . into readable, digestible paragraphs. . . . Introducing the New Testament will be gladly received as a substantial resource for NT classes and will be utilized in a wide variety of contexts. His emphasis on the major themes of each NT book is to be highly commended. . . . Students of the NT will find Powell's introduction to contain the cumulative highlights of a seasoned scholar, the crème de la crème from years of NT teaching. Introducing the New Testament is a wonderful resource that will be read and utilized for years to come."

Sung Jin Park,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Powell's [work] is beautifully illustrated, and reader friendly. . . . Powell has a deep respect and evident affection for the texts he presents. . . . The book is also informative. The reader will especially appreciate Powell's use of charts. . . . This introduction would work very well in a classroom situation. Typically, Powell presents opinions without prejudice, leaving room for discussion. He writes in such a way that it would be ideal for quizzing and testing. Even more, he includes hyperlinks to the Internet where the student can find more information on any number of topics. Read this book well and you will actually learn something. Use this book as a textbook and you will have a rich range of resources. Perhaps most striking is Powell's use of Christian art, which is sprinkled throughout the book. . . . It goes without saying that no New Testament introduction is perfect, but this one is awfully good and, I think it is fair to say, it has set a new and higher standard for what a book like this can accomplish."

Peter J. Scaer,

Logia

"The book itself is dazzlingly beautiful, using Christian art throughout the centuries along with pictures with rich effect. And Powell's literary liveliness is a nice complement to the book's design. In terms of content, Powell excels at laying out all the scholarly options for interpretive issues, though without giving the details of where those arguments can be found. He leaves the decisions to the readers, which, depending on one's needs, could be an advantage. . . . There is little doubt that Powell's volume is appealing for those just beginning to study the NT formally."

James R. A. Merrick,

Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

"In the long line of NT introductions, there are some whose chief merits lie in the depth of their analysis, and there are others that are judged better for their pedagogical merits. Powell's NT introduction scores well in both departments. Powell has not skimped with respect to either the difficult questions or in presenting the necessary background material to understand a particular NT writing. . . . Yet his writing is everywhere clear, and presumes no prior technical knowledge of the field. . . . The book's layout is strikingly beautiful, with plenty of brightly colored photographs and charts, and lots of sidelights. . . . This book is poised to become one of the leading NT introductions in the coming decades."

John C. Poirier,

Pneuma Review

"The reader is led into a very easy-to-read account of how New Testament books came into existence. Powell is a first-class scholar and well equipped for this task. . . . A more attractive introduction to the New Testament can hardly be imagined."

David P. Scaer,

Concordia Theological Quarterly

"Introductions to the New Testament that go beyond traditional works of this genre to incorporate the rich resources of Christian art, and give Hyperlinks to the book's Web site, while also striving to keep in balance the three major foci of such introductions--historical, literary, and theological--are, indeed, rare. This is what Mark Allan Powell . . . has achieved for students and professors of the NT alike. . . . This well-designed book incorporates many helpful features. . . . Chapter treatments are well focused and are of reasonable length; boxed data supplement discussions considerably; and the major themes treated for each book encapsulate the theology of the book. . . . This new work by Powell commends itself to a wide range of users via its clarity and scintillating style of presentation and discussion. . . . We are indebted to Powell and Baker Academic for conceiving a book of this nature, whose use extends beyond the university/seminary to serious bible study groups. This is a book to treasure."

Randee Ijatuyi-Morphé,

Sapientia Logos