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A Concise Guide to Reading the New Testament

A Canonical Introduction

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The New Testament came together, and comes to us, not as a randomly sorted set of individual books but as a definitely shaped and ordered whole. In this concise, theological introduction to the New Testament, David Nienhuis sheds light on the interpretive significance of the canon's structure and sequence. Nienhuis argues that the New Testament is deliberately formed in such a way that its presentation of God's work in Christ teaches what it means to be formed into God's people. Providing an essential overview often missing from New Testament books and courses, it will serve as an accessible supplement to any New Testament or Bible introduction textbook.

1. Introduction: The Form and Function of the New Testament Canon
Following the Way of the Word
2. The Gospel according to Matthew: The Call to Discipleship
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me."
3. The Gospel according to Mark: The Cost of Discipleship
"Take up your cross and follow me."
4. The Gospel according to Luke: The Scope of Discipleship
"The kingdom of God is among you."
5. The Gospel according to John: The Center of Discipleship
"I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."
6. The Acts of the Apostles: The Community of Discipleship
"In the last days it will be . . . that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh."
7. The Letters of Paul: The Pattern of Discipleship
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me."
8. The Catholic Epistles: The Tradition of Discipleship
"Whoever says 'I abide in him' ought to walk just as he walked."
9. The Revelation to John: The Conquering Disciple
"These follow the Lamb wherever he goes."
Suggestions for Further Reading


"This is not simply a conventional historical introduction. Instead, David Nienhuis offers a robustly theological proposal about how to read the New Testament as a collection of texts that are foundational for Christian faith and practice. His reading highlights the carefully structured architecture of the generally received NT canon, as well as the way in which the texts form Christian disciples. Not to be overlooked are his illuminating citations of passages illustrating the reception of the NT books by patristic interpreters. A thought-provoking resource for all who seek to introduce students to the NT as Christian Scripture."

Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School

"Of the making of New Testament introductions there is no end--yet this volume is truly unique: a guide to the New Testament as a coherent, ordered, and interconnected collection of writings about God's saving work in Jesus and the call to discipleship. This fascinating and insightful volume will benefit readers of Scripture in various settings, from the formal classroom to the church to the home."

Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary's Seminary and University

"Newcomers to the formal study of the New Testament need a reliable guide that pulls its readers into the heart of the New Testament itself, one that prioritizes learning the New Testament over learning about the New Testament. This is that guide, but it is more besides. It's also an impressive, uncluttered reading of the New Testament as the church's Scriptures that promotes faithful life and witness."

Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This is a solid resource for believers who are serious about New Testament study and Christian discipleship. It's broadly ecumenical, in the best sense, and illuminating in its use of canonical exegesis. The scholarship is perfectly calibrated for teachers and students: always clear, never overbearing."

Scott Hahn, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, Franciscan University of Steubenville; founder and president, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

"In a field full of introductions to the New Testament, Nienhuis provides a readable and rare guide that approaches the NT documents as a canonical collection for the purpose of forming disciples. This is a fresh and fruitful textbook that manifests a teacher's passion and care for students to grow in their faith through engaging Holy Scripture."

Jonathan T. Pennington, associate professor of New Testament, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. David R. Nienhuis
    Leo Chen

    David R. Nienhuis

    David R. Nienhuis (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament studies at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of Not by Paul Alone: The Formation of the Catholic Epistle Collection and the Christian Canon...

    Continue reading about David R. Nienhuis