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The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Second Edition)

Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (2nd Ed.). Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2016. 1168 pp. $59.99.

For years The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (hereafter CCC) has been my favorite evangelical NT introduction and one of my favorites overall. I’ve loved it for its comprehensiveness – the first volume was 161 pages longer than the volume with which it is probably most often compared, Carson & Moo’s An Introduction to the New Testament (what can I say, I love big books!). One unique feature of CCC is that it is unabashedly Christian, as can be seen in the opening lines of the preface to the both editions: “For believers who look to Scripture as the authority for their faith and practice, the NT, with its 27 books, presents both a wonderful, God-given treasure trove of spiritual insights and a formidable challenge for faithful, accurate interpretation.” Academic material is presented not in a dry, disinterested way but in a way that is connected to our faith, encouraging devotion and application. CCC presents top-of-the-line scholarship in a spiritually nurturing way for the Christian (one example of the spiritual nourishment provided by this volume is that there is at least one devotional on each NT book).

CCC is also distinctive because it begins with two chapters on foundational issues to which chapters are not typically dedicated in NT introductions. The first chapter addresses the nature and scope of Scripture, covering  the history of canonization, textual translation/transmission and the reliability of the Bible, and the doctrine of Scripture (covering topics such as inspiration and inerrancy). The second chapter surveys the political and religious background of the NT, providing an overview of the Second Temple Period. Usually the serious student of the New Testament, once armed with an NT introduction, must seek out additional books in order to be introduced to the nature of Scripture and the background of the NT. CCC provides a one-stop-shop, and the content of the first two chapters are a unique strength of this volume.

After the two introductory chapters, the remainder of CCC provides a robust overview of each book of the NT using the same pattern – the “hermeneutical triad” of history, literature, and theology (explicated in Kostenberger and Patterson’s fantastic book on hermeneutics, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation). The discussion on theological themes for each NT book is also a distinctive, as many NT introductions do not address the theology of the NT writings. Each chapter begins with a breakdown of what one should know from the chapter if aiming for 1) basic knowledge; 2) intermediate knowledge; or 3) advanced knowledge. This is especially helpful for self-studiers but can also be a valuable aid in the classroom (e.g. professors can communicate which level of mastery is desired of their students and create quizzes and exams accordingly). Other helpful features for the student include the study questions and bibliography at the end of each chapter.

None of what is described above has changed in the second edition. What has changed is that the content (including bibliography and footnotes) has been brought up to date with the latest in NT scholarship. Entirely new content include sections on how to interpret different genres of scripture as well as an epilogue that traces the storyline of Scripture from creation to consummation. All-in-all, the second edition is 223 pages longer than the first. The length and comprehensiveness of CCC is a blessing and in combination with the user-friendly features should be an attractant rather than a repellent. CCC is designed in a way that makes it very easy to cull for precisely the information you need (whether you just want to study a particular book of the NT, or whether you just want information about the history or literature or theology of a book), so the length need not be daunting. This book is both a valuable reference resource for the layperson and preacher alike as well as a fantastic textbook for seminary courses that introduce the NT.

Many thanks to B&H Academic for sending me a review copy of the second edition of The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown!

Purchase: Amazon | Westminster





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