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Invitation to the New Testament

First Things

Ben Witherington III

Publication Date - November 2012

ISBN: 9780199920525

480 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $49.95

An introduction to the contents of the New Testament--a historical, social, and faith-friendly approach


Writing with his usual flair and reader-friendly style, renowned scholar, author, and lecturer Ben Witherington offers a balanced approach to the New Testament in this exceptional introductory text. Addressing the content, context, and interpretation of the New Testament in a faith-friendly light, Invitation to the New Testament: First Things is unique in that keeps the original social and rhetorical milieux of the New Testament in mind. An ideal textbook for college survey courses, this volume is also captivating reading for seminary students and general readers.


* Numerous dynamic color photos keep students engaged

* Maps and charts provide visual overviews at a glance

* Marginal definitions bring students up to speed on new concepts

* Chapter-ending study questions review key ideas and encourage reflection

* First-century quotations expose students to the world of the New Testament

* "A Closer Look" boxes cover more advanced topics

* An Instructor's Manual on CD (not included with book, available separately) includes PowerPoint-based lecture outlines, chapter goals and summaries, media resources, pedagogical suggestions, and key terms

* A Companion Website offers all of the material from the Instructor's Manual along with self-quizzes and flashcards of key terms for students

New to this Edition

  • This is a first edition.

About the Author(s)

Ben Witherington III is Amos Professor of the New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and also serves on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. One of the world's top evangelical scholars, he has written more than forty books and is also a popular lecturer. Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, he has been seen on the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, the BBC, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.


"Ben Witherington's Invitation to the New Testament not only introduces the key issues of New Testament study but does so in a most engaging way. Students will be fascinated about how this work--which has shaped the world--came together and how its various parts function."--Darrell L. Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary

"Ben Witherington delivers an outstanding introduction to the New Testament that is comprehensive, fair, and balanced. With remarkable clarity, he is able to communicate complex and important issues related to the study of the New Testament in a way that challenges, stimulates, and encourages students."--Mark Fairchild, Huntington University

"Ben Witherington, a senior scholar and accomplished author, recognizes that it is a sacred trust to introduce students to a sacred text. His insightful, sympathetic treatment of his subject, when coupled with his skillful, enjoyable prose, commends this work for a wide audience and distinguishes it from would-be competitors."--Todd D. Still, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University

"Witherington has extended a gracious invitation indeed to enter the world of the early Christian movement, to listen to its conversations, and to explore the message and challenge at the heart of its writings. Invitation to the New Testament would be an ideal textbook for undergraduate introductions to the New Testament."--David deSilva, Ashland Theological Seminary

"The central contributions of this book are threefold: first, Witherington sees the New Testament through the lens of the apostles who bore witness to having seen the risen Jesus; second, he recognizes that the New Testament never presents Jesus as merely another historical figure whose actions and intentions can be assessed without faith; and third, he refuses to separate Jesus' words and deeds from the Church that makes manifest the reign of God. This introduction to the New Testament is for all readers who seek not only historical insights but also the deeper framework in which this history makes sense."--Matthew Levering, University of Dayton

"Written in an engaging, conversational manner, Invitation to the New Testament presents the literature in light of contemporary issues that address both the academy and faith communities. Ben Witherington addresses all positions fairly and is willing to go where the evidence leads him."--James B. Shelton, Oral Roberts University

"Witherington begins with the kinds of questions and interests that novices to the field of New Testament studies intuitively experience and draws readers into the discussion naturally, assuming minimal background knowledge and making complex processes easily understandable."--Rob Starner, Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Table of Contents

    The Plan of this Book
    Chapter 1. The Texture of the Text of the New Testament
    The Material Used
    Why a Continuous Flow of Letters?
    The Oral and Rhetorical World of the New Testament
    Implications of What We Have Learned
    Chapter 2. The Literature of the New Testament
    What Are the Gospels (and Acts)?
    What about the "Letters" of the New Testament?
    In the End, Apocalypse
    What Is the Story the New Testament Seeks to Tell?
    What Sort of History Is This?
    Chapter 3. Jesus of Nazareth in His Early Jewish Setting
    Did Jesus Even Exist?
    What Manner of Man Was He?
    What Is a Miracle?
    Were There "Lost Christianities"?
    Chapter 4. First Century Family Values ?
    Greece and Rome Will Not Leave Us Alone
    Social History and Ordinary Life
    Chapter 5. The Earliest Good News--Mark's Gospel
    Who Was Mark, and When Did He Write?
    How Is Mark's Gospel Arranged?
    The Presentation of and Reflection on Christ in Mark
    Marking Time
    The Kingdom Comes with Teaching and Healing
    A Closer Look: Jesus' Wisdom Teachings--Parables, Aphorisms, Riddles
    The Dramatic, Surprise Ending of Mark's Gospel
    A Closer Look: Anonymous Gospels and Later Guesses?
    Describing a Scribe
    The Audience, Date, and Character of Matthew's Gospel
    Matthew's Special Contributions to the Story of Jesus
    The Sermon on the Mount
    The Peter Principle
    Chapter 7. Luke the Historian's Two-Volume Work--Luke--Acts
    Luke's Hellenistic, Yet Jewish, Historical Approach to Jesus and "the Way"
    Who Was Theophilus?
    Who Was Luke?
    The Logical and Theological Structuring of Luke--Acts
    The Gospel of the Holy Spirit
    Luke's Views of Jesus
    Chapter 8. The Last Word on Jesus--The Beloved Disciples' Testimony in the Gospel of John
    First Things
    The Theological Structure of the Fourth Gospel
    A Closer Look: The I Am Sayings
    In Passing--Meaningful Asides in the Gospel of John
    A Glimpse of Glory--Special Moments in the Gospel of John with Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, Mary Magdalene, and Peter
    A Closer Look: The Crucifixion of Jesus
    Chapter 9. Paul--OUTLI NES of the LIFE and LETTERS of the APOSTLE?
    The Trinity of Paul's Identity
    Paul the Multilingual, Multicultural Apostle
    Rhetoric in the Greco-Roman World
    Paul's Rhetorical Letters
    Chapter 10. Paul's Narrative Thought World
    Five Stories that Shook and Shaped Paul's World and Worldview
    Chapter 11. Paul the Letter Writer
    Paul's First Salvo--Galatians
    Romans--The Righteousness of God and the Setting Right of Human Beings
    1 and 2 Thessalonians
    1 and 2 Corinthians
    A Closer Look: Paul, Sex, and Women
    The Captivity Epistles
    Chapter 12. The Pastoral Epistles and the Problem of Pseudonymous Letters
    Why the Authorship Issue Matters
    Epistolary Pseudepigrapha and Intellectual Property in Antiquity--Framing the
    The Pastoral Epistles--What Sort of Rhetoric Is This?
    Chapter 13. The Sermon of James the Just--Jesus' Brother
    General Epistles?
    James--A Wisdom Sermon in Encyclical Form
    The Language, Wisdom, and Rhetorical Style of James
    The Authorship and Provenance Question
    What Kind of Document Is James?
    Core Samplings
    Chapter 14. The Other Brother and his Eschatological Thinking--Jude
    Jude--The Man
    A Closer Look: Galilee and the Hellenizing of the Holy Land
    Jude the Book
    Jude's Audience
    Chapter 15. The Suffering Servant--1 Peter
    The Social World of Early Christianity
    The Authorship, Audience, and Social Milieu of 1 Peter
    The Rhetorical Outline of 1 Peter
    A Closer Look: The Peter of the New Testament and Early Christian History
    Core Samplings
    Chapter 16. The Sermon of the Famous Anonymous Preacher-Hebrews
    The Authorship, Audience, and Provenance of Hebrews
    The Rhetoric of Hebrews
    Core Samplings
    Chapter 17. A Beloved Sermon and Two Elderly Letters--1-3 John
    The Authorship Issues
    The Social Context of the Johannine Epistles
    The Date and Provenance of the Johannine Epistles
    The Rhetorical Structure of 1 John
    The Rhetorical Structure of 2 John
    The Rhetorical Structure of 3 John
    Core Samples--1 John 4
    Chapter 18. Picking up the Pieces, Forming up the Canon--2 Peter
    Preliminary Considerations
    The Mystery That Is 2 Peter
    Putting Together the Pieces
    The Rhetoric of 2 Peter
    Core Samplings--2 Peter 1.12-21
    Who, What, When, Where, and Why?
    The Particularity of Revelation
    The Rhetoric and Resources of Revelation
    Revelation in Its Social Setting in Western Asia Minor
    The Christology of Revelation
    The Genre of Revelation
    Chapter 20. The Making of the New Testament--Did the Canon Misfire?
    Canon Consciousness and Scripture Consciousness
    The Rise of New Testament Scripture and Canon Consciousness
    The Organizing of Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy
    In the End

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