Thanks to Jason for this nifty free book.
An exemplary text, Russell Pregeant’s Engaging the New Testament (1995) has provided a rich interdisciplinary New Testament introduction for upper-level and graduate students, incorporating a wide range of methods – literary, historical, psychological, theological, and social-scientific, and critically perceptive introductions to each of the New Testament writings.
Encounter with the New Testament adapts and abridges the best features of that textbook for beginning undergraduate students – surveying approaches to biblical studies, and discussing historical and cultural backgrounds, the historical Jesus, and the rise of the resurrection faith with attention to extracanonical materials. The textbook includes charts, maps, illustrations, reading suggestions, and more.
About the Author
Russell Pregeant is Professor of Religion and Chaplain at Curry College, Milton, Massachusetts, and Lecturer in New Testament at Andover Newton Theological School. He is author of several books, including the Fortress textbook Engaging the New Testament (1995,) and Knowing Truth, Doing Good: Engaging New Testament Ethics.
Rarely ever do I have to make myself read a book related to the bible – yet, for the first section, I had to constantly force myself to pick it up, plow through it, and see if it would get any better. Fortunately, it did. The book is divided into four parts, one dealing with historical (higher) criticism of the New Testament in which the author takes us through the various accounts of how the Jesus Tradition expanded, as well as methods of that expansion. The remaining three deal with the Gospels-Acts, the Undisputed Letters of Paul, the Disputed Letters of Paul, and the General Letters.
Pregeant promises an interdisciplinary approach to biblical interpretation, and delivers it, except during the first section of the book. He is able to properly place such interpretations as feminist, Freudian, Jungian, the Existentialist interpretation popularized by Bultmann, as well as literary approaches, liberation theology, and narrative criticism. In discussing the various books which serve to make up the New Testament, the author uses the different interpretative methods at different times.
In presenting the New Testament books, the author presents points to look for in the book, reading summaries for each section and then a summary. From there, he employees various interpretive methods as mentioned above. This is a fault of the book. While this book is intended as a entry level device, the author has so broadened the field that he is able to only use just a few methods at a time, and they are random, as if the author is using certain methods to get certain points across. The author, however, does not hesitate in tackling the controversial points of each books, such as the charge of antisemitism found so easily in Matthew, or Paul’s approaches to homosexuality and women and associating the proper methods with these issues.
While the author is squarely centered in historical criticism, and relies on Bultmann’s method as his primary tool, once you move past the first section, the remainder of the book should be well received by all students of the New Testament, if for nothing else, in examining how others view, or attempt to answer, the New Testament. I would recommend this book for those who are unfamiliar with different methods of interpretations.