January 1976 · Vol. 5 No. 1 · pp. 32–34 

Book Review

New Dimensions in New Testament Study

ed. Richard N. Longenecker and Merrill C. Tenney. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1974. 386 pages.

Reviewed by D. Edmond Hiebert

The twenty-four scholarly papers appearing in this volume were originally read at the twenty-fifth annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in December 1973. They treat a wide variety of themes related to the New {33} Testament and vary in length from 8 to 27 pages. The contributors are evangelical New Testament scholars from America, plus a few British scholars. The editors have grouped the papers under four general headings: 1) Canon, Text and Background; 2) Jesus and the Gospels; 3) Apostolic History; 4) Paul and the Epistles. As the editors point out, the contributions to this impressive volume will serve a threefold function: “(1) to give something of a progress report on evangelical New Testament scholarly study today, (2) to challenge competing systems of New Testament interpretation, and (3) to furnish a basis and stimulus for further study for all concerned” (p. vii).

Space makes it impossible to refer to all these essays. To give a sampling of its riches, four articles, one from each division, will be chosen quite at random, with no suggestion that the others are less valuable.

The second essay in the volume, “P 66, P 75, and Origen: The Myth of Early Textual Recension in Alexandria,” by Gordon D. Fee (pp. 19-45), is an important contribution to current discussions in textual criticism. Fee presents the results of a careful study of the textual variants in the two early papyri, P 66 (about A.D. 200) and P 75 (about A.D. 225) as compared with the important fourth century Uncial Codex Vaticanus; this demonstrates that the Alexandrian text as represented by Vaticanus is a “comparatively pure” text and not a recension or edited text, as advocates of the Textus Receptus have claimed. Fee sides with those who accept the superior value of the Alexandrian text-type as over against the Western or Byzantine texts. He insists that the modern eclectic method in textual criticism plants its feet firmly on the manuscript evidence.

Essay No. 8, grouped in the second division, “The Languages Spoken by Jesus,” by Philip E. Hughes (pp. 127-143), deals with another important issue for New Testament study. He reviews the different positions that have been advocated, discusses the New Testament evidence and the latest archaeological discoveries, and concludes that Hebrew and Aramaic were used side by side, as well as Greek, in first century Palestine; Jesus as well as the apostles were acquainted with all three. He holds that this position best explains the New Testament evidence and the fact that the New Testament was written in Greek.

Under “Apostolic History,” article No. 16, “Acts 22:3—A Test Case for Luke’s Reliability,” by Everett F. Harrison (pp. 251-260), concentrates on the reliability of Luke’s quotation of Paul’s assertion that he studied under Gamaliel in Jerusalem. Reviewing the reasons that critical scholars have advanced for rejecting the claim, Harrison shows that the attacks have not discredited Luke’s veracity and that the biblical claim is still the most creditable view.

Under the fourth division, we select the article “Oida and Ginosko in the Pauline Epistles,” by Donald W. Burdick (pp. 344-356). All agree that in classical Greek these two words basically denote the possession of knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge. But is this distinction consistently observed by Paul? Some scholars insist that the New Testament faithfully preserves the classical distinction, while others hold that the two terms are used synonymously and the classical distinction is disregarded. After a careful study of all the uses of the terms in the Pauline Epistles, Burdick concludes, and we think rightly, that Paul usually follows the classical pattern, but that in a few (18 instances) cases the verbs are used interchangeably. His conclusion is that the precise significance of the terms must be determined in each instance in the light of the context.

The contributions in this significant volume deal with various current New Testament issues, such as the canon, Gnosticism, the literary genre “Gospel,” the {34} year of Jesus’ crucifixion, ancient amanuenses, attitudes of the Church Fathers on slavery, and interpretations of various New Testament portions and teachings.

This is a volume by New Testament specialists and will be found most helpful for the advanced New Testament student. Professors, Seminary students, and pastors, should find it rich and challenging. But the ordinary lay reader of the New Testament will find much of it difficult to understand.

Nine pages of closely printed indexes conclude the volume.

D. Edmond Hiebert
Professor of New Testament
Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno