The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament within Its Cultural Contexts
Authors: Gary M. Burge, Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green
Hardcover: 479 pages
It’s with much thanks to Zondervan for this review copy of The New Testament in Antiquity that I can provide a review to all you good people out there.
This book is Zondervan’s latest in a growing line of New Testament introductions/surveys that include Robert Gundry’s A Survey of the New Testament and D.A. Carson & Douglas Moo’s An Introduction to the New Testament. Drs. Burge, Cohick, and Green are all faculty at Wheaton College & Graduate School. According to them, they have set out to create a survey that is:
firmly rooted in our tradition, yet is conversant with the academic field we represent . . . These, then, were our goals: academic, accessible, contextual, and confessional. 
I would say that The New Testament in Antiquity is divided into three areas: introductory chapters, main chapters, and a conclusion chapter. These three types are not in any specific order. The book obviously starts out with some introductory chapters, then has some main chapters on the Gospels and Acts. It then returns to an introductory chapter on Paul before going into main chapters covering New Testament letters. At the very end, we find what I call a conclusion chapter covering text criticism and translation. However, one could still call this an introductory chapter that just happens to be at the end rather than the beginning.
There are illustrations and contextual sidebars on nearly every page. The images are high quality and help place what is being discussed. The sidebars work likewise. They give the reader a glimpse into other parts of the ancient world where similar discussions are taking place.
All this being said, The New Testament in Antiquity does its stated job. It follows Burge/Cohick/Green’s purpose perfectly. Anyone, academically inclined or not, can grasp the New Testament and walk away with a better idea of the world of Jesus and the Apostles. Also, I’m sure that the are making the evangelical world proud. It’s clear from reading that they believe the New Testament is God’s Word and that it is without error.
However, despite their grand efforts, I see several things that I cannot get past. First, nearly every page has a spelling error, wrong punctuation, or words repeated. This bothers me to no end most in a book (especially one written by Wheaton professors)! There is also incorrect information in this book such as:
This image is found in the first chapter of The New Testament in Antiquity. They claim this is P52, which obviously it is not. It is POxy52! However, I have heard from Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth‘s review of this book, that Zondervan is planning on correcting this in future editions. This is not the only mistake though. Listen to this sidebar’s statement:
In 1853 and 1959 [sic] Tishendorf returned to Mount Sinai with a copy of the published sheets he took in 1844 . . . Tishendorf studied it [Codex Sinaiticus] all night and after lengthy negotiations the monastery presented it to their protector, the Russian czar, as a gift. This text, Codex Sinaiticus, was published in 1862. 
It’s amazing how one number in a date can make such a huge impact. If I was a new undergrad reading this, I would be confused to say the least. Sadly, there are other places where such careless mistakes also take place.
No matter how good a book this is, with errors like these, it is hard for me to give it as good a recommendation as I would like. The New Testament in Antiquity is worthwhile. Certainly an undergrad student, or even a lay person, would walk away satisfied. Those wanting to go into New Testament studies should look elsewhere though. There are other introduction/survey books that you will appreciate more.
Filed under: New Testament |