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Craig Blomberg: Making Sense of the New Testament

 

Craig L. Blomberg, Making Sense of the New Testament: Three Crucial Questions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 189 pages.

How do we know that the New Testament that we hold in our hands today is accurate? If we conclude that it is indeed accurate, how do we reconcile Paul’s teachings with Jesus’ teachings? And if they can be reconciled, how do we even understand the New Testament and apply it to our lives? These are arguably the three most basic and crucial questions that a Christian in the twenty-first century needs to grapple with, and Craig Blomberg helps us with this task. Blomberg, professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, has provided us with a well-reasoned and balanced introduction to the New Testament. This is a small yet concise volume that would be beneficial for every Christian out there.

In a pluralistic world where truth is relative, it is vitally important for believers to know why the New Testament documents can be trusted and how we may apply them to our daily walk with God. From the first chapter, Blomberg gets right down to basics. He argues for the reliability of the New Testament from the standpoints of textual criticism, authorship and date, genre, internal consistency, external attestation (both Christian and non-Christian), and archaeology. He touches on the “hard sayings” and miracles, blending it all together into a thoroughly researched and logical apologetic for believing the New Testament to be what it claims (and for believing that Jesus is who he claimed to be).

Next, Blomberg asks the crucial question, “Was Paul the true founder of Christianity?” Although it is true that a cursory and superficial comparison of the gospels with the epistles may lead some to believe that Jesus’ teachings were not the same as Paul’s, this does not need to be the conclusion. Indeed, Blomberg digs deeper into these writings and shows that Paul actually did have knowledge of Jesus’ teachings (and of the gospel in general), and that Paul’s teachings do not contradict those teachings. Rather, Paul helped expand upon them and explain them more fully. From eschatology to soteriology, from the role of the law to the role of women, from christology to ecclesiology—Paul’s teachings and Jesus’ teachings are complementary to each other.

But once we know that we can rely upon the accuracy of Jesus’ and Paul’s teachings, what do we do with it? We need to take one more step down this road, moving from apologetics to hermeneutics. Professor Blomberg walks us through the entire New Testament in one amazing chapter, from the gospels and the epistles to Acts and Revelation. He briefly summarizes (with examples) all of the different styles of writing and literary forms, and shows us how to apply the principles contained within them. Finally, Blomberg concisely summarizes three chapters into three pages, and reminds us one final time why he wrote this book to help each of us: “[H]ow one responds to Jesus of Nazareth reflects the most important decision anyone can make in this life” (p. 147).

Reviewed by Michael J. Knowles

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Category: Biblical Studies, Summer 2006

About the Author: Michael J. Knowles earned his Bachelor of Theology degree at Summit Pacific College in Abbotsford, BC, Canada, and has published numerous articles and book reviews. He and his family currently live in Washington state, where he teaches health education at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, and also works as a pharmacy technician in Bellingham.

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