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The New Testament

A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings

Seventh Edition

Professor Bart D. Ehrman

Publication Date - 18 September 2019

ISBN: 9780190909000

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

In Stock

A fascinating and balanced look at the New Testament, written with clarity and flair


Featuring vibrant full color throughout, the seventh edition of Bart D. Ehrman's highly successful introduction approaches the New Testament from a consistently historical and comparative perspective, emphasizing the rich diversity of the earliest Christian literature. Distinctive to this study is its unique focus on the historical, literary, and religious milieux of the Greco-Roman world, including early Judaism. As part of its historical orientation, the book also discusses other Christian writings that were roughly contemporary with the New Testament, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the letters of Ignatius.

New to this Edition

  • A dozen new boxes covering compelling topics like the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library, the size of the Christian church in the New Testament period (and later), the role of miracle stories in the spread of the religion at the time, and Jesus' view of hell
  • An excursus on the importance of digital technology for Bible study
  • A streamlined structure that reduces the chapter count by two
  • Updated suggestions for further reading and reworked study questions


  • The #1-selling New Testament introduction in the U.S., featuring the most engaging writing, by NY Times best-selling author Bart D. Ehrman
  • Takes a strong historical and comparative approach, not a doctrinal or theological one, and also presents literary and material aspects of the New Testament
  • Incorporates a multitude of pedagogical features and boxes: "What to Expect," "At a Glance," "Another Glimpse into the Past," "What Do You Think?," and "Take a Stand"
  • Time lines, illustrations, maps, and more than 100 photos, including three photo essays, further enhance the text
  • Oxford Learning Link includes a Computerized Test Bank, PowerPoint lecture outlines, and an Instructor's Manual with chapter summaries and discussion questions
  • A Companion Website offers a wealth of free and open-access student resources, including chapter summaries, flashcards of key terms, and self-quizzes

About the Author(s)

Bart D. Ehrman is James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has written or edited more than twenty-nine books, including six New York Times best sellers. His publications include The Bible, Second Edition (2017), A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, Fourth Edition (2016), and After the New Testament, Second Edition (2014), all published by Oxford University Press.


"The depth of the scholarship and the exhaustive content in The New Testament is impressive. The exploration of the New Testament documents from a historical and exegetical perspective is invaluable. Ehrman's writing style is engaging, conversationalist, and easy to follow. I can imagine him in a conversation with his students as he wrote the book."--William Rodriguez, Bethune Cookman University

"Excellent. The book's main strengths are its impeccable scholarship and clarity of explanation. It's the only textbook I use in any course."--Corrie Norman, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"The New Testament draws from a rich consultation with numerous resources, aptly distributed, so that Ehrman gives a nod to all parties, policies, and nuances. His prose style is substantive and accessible and his treatment of theological platforms is respectfully acknowledged. The book's advantage is its appeal to 21st-century students."--Doris Plantus, Oakland University

Table of Contents

    Maps, Timelines, and Diagrams
    Notes on Suggestions for Further Reading
    Resources for Instructors and Students
    Master Timeline
    Introduction: Why Study the New Testament?
    1. What Is the New Testament? The Early Christians and Their Literature
    The Diversity of Early Christianity
    The New Testament Canon of Scripture
    Implications for Our Study
    Excursus 1: Some Additional Reflections: The Historian and the Believer
    2. Do We Have the Original New Testament?
    Publishing Books: Now and Then
    How Can We Know if We Have an Ancient Author's Actual Words?
    What Manuscripts of the New Testament Do We Have? The Good News and Bad News
    A Concrete Example
    Accidental Mistakes
    Intentional Errors
    Criteria for Establishing the Text
    Photo Essay 1: Ancient Manuscripts of the New Testament
    3. The Greco-Roman World of Early Christian Traditions
    The Problem of Beginnings
    One Remarkable Life
    The Environment of the New Testament: Religions in the Greco-Roman World
    4. The Jewish World of Jesus and His Followers
    Judaism as a Greco-Roman Religion
    Political Crises in Palestine and Their Ramifications
    The Formation of Jewish Groups
    5. From Oral Traditions to Written Gospels
    Oral Traditions behind the Gospels
    The Earliest Christian Gospels
    The Question of Genre
    Biography as a Greco-Roman Genre
    The Gospels as Ancient Biographies
    Excursus 2: Some Additional Reflections: The Authors of the Gospels
    6. Jesus, the Suffering Son of God: The Gospel According to Mark
    The Beginning of the Gospel: Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God Who Fulfills Scripture
    Jesus the Authoritative Son of God
    Jesus the Opposed Son of God
    Jesus the Misunderstood Son of God
    Jesus the Acknowledged Son of God
    Jesus the Suffering Son of God
    Jesus the Crucified Son of God
    Jesus the Vindicated Son of God
    Conclusion: Mark and His Readers
    7. The Synoptic Problem and Its Significance for Interpretation
    Methods for Studying the Gospels
    The Synoptic Problem
    The Methodological Significance of the Four-Source Hypothesis
    8. Jesus, the Jewish Messiah: The Gospel According to Matthew
    The Importance of Beginnings: Jesus the Jewish Messiah in Fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures
    Jesus and His Forerunner from Matthew's Perspective
    The Portrayal of Jesus in Matthew: The Sermon on the Mount as a Springboard
    Jesus and the Jewish Cultic Practices Prescribed by the Law
    Jesus Rejected by the Jewish Leaders
    Matthew and His Readers
    9. Jesus, the Savior of the World: The Gospel According to Luke
    The Comparative Method and the Gospel of Luke
    A Comparative Overview of the Gospel
    The Preface to Luke's Gospel
    Luke's Birth Narrative in Comparative Perspective
    From Jew to Gentile: Luke's Portrayal of Jesus the Rejected Prophet
    Luke's Distinctive Emphases throughout His Gospel
    Conclusion: Luke in Comparative Perspective
    10. Jesus, the Man Sent from Heaven: The Gospel According to John
    The Gospel of John from the Perspective of Genre Criticism
    The Gospel of John from a Comparative Perspective
    The Gospel of John from a Redactional Perspective
    The Socio-Historical Method
    The Gospel of John from a Socio-Historical Perspective
    The Author of the Fourth Gospel
    Excursus 3: Methods of Ideological Criticism
    11. From John's Jesus to the Gnostic Christ: The Johannine Epistles and Beyond
    The Questions of Genre and Author
    The New Testament Epistolary Literature and the Contextual Method
    The Johannine Epistles from a Contextual Perspective
    Reflections on the Contextual Method
    Beyond the Johannine Community: The Rise of Christian Gnosticism
    Major Views of Various Gnostic Groups
    Gnostics and the Johannine Community
    12. Jesus from Different Perspectives: Other Gospels in Early Christianity
    Narrative Gospels
    Marcion's Gospel
    Sayings Gospels
    Infancy Gospels
    Passion Gospels
    Conclusion: The Other Gospels
    13. The Historical Jesus: Sources, Problems, and Methods
    Problems with Sources
    Non-Christian Sources
    Christian Sources
    Using Our Sources: Some of the Basic Rules of Thumb
    Specific Criteria and Their Rationale
    Conclusion: Reconstructing the Life of Jesus
    Excursus 4: The Historian and the Problem of Miracles
    14. Jesus in Context

    Popular Modes of Resistance to Oppression
    An Ideology of Resistance
    Jesus in His Apocalyptic Context
    Photo Essay 2: The Material World of Jesus and the Gospels
    15. Jesus, the Apocalyptic Prophet
    The Apocalyptic Deeds of Jesus
    The Apocalyptic Teachings of Jesus
    The Apocalyptic Death of Jesus
    16. From Jesus to the Gospels
    The Beginning of Christianity
    Jesus' Resurrection from an Apocalyptic Perspective
    Jesus' Death, According to the Scriptures
    The Emergence of Different Understandings of Jesus
    17. Luke's Second Volume: The Acts of the Apostles
    The Genre of Acts and Its Significance
    The Thematic Approach to Acts
    From Gospel to Acts: The Opening Transition
    Themes in the Speeches in Acts
    Conclusion: The Author and His Themes in Context
    Excursus 5: The Author of Luke-Acts and His Audience
    18. Paul the Apostle: The Man and His Mission
    The Study of Paul: Methodological Difficulties
    The Life of Paul
    19. Paul and His Apostolic Mission: 1 Thessalonians as a Test Case
    The Founding of the Church in Thessalonica
    The Beginnings of the Thessalonian Church: A Socio-historical Perspective
    The Church at Thessalonica after Paul's Departure
    Conclusion: Paul the Apostle
    20. Paul and the Crises of His Churches: 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, and Philemon
    1 Corinthians
    2 Corinthians
    21. The Gospel According to Paul: The Letter to the Romans
    The Occasion and Purpose of the Letter
    The Theme of the Epistle
    Pauline Models for Salvation
    The Flow of Paul's Argument
    Conclusion: Paul and the Romans
    Photo Essay 3: The Cities and Roads of Paul
    22. Does the Tradition Miscarry? Paul in Relation to Jesus, James, Thecla, and Theudas
    Paul in Relation to What Came Before
    Paul in Relation to What Came After
    Conclusion: Pauline Christianities
    23. In the Wake of the Apostle: The Deutero-Pauline and Pastoral Epistles
    Pseudonymity in the Ancient World
    The Deutero-Pauline Epistles
    The Pastoral Epistles
    The Historical Situation and Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles
    Conclusion: The Post-Pauline Pastoral Epistles
    24. From Paul's Female Colleagues to the Pastor's Intimidated Women: The Oppression of Women in Early Christianity
    Women in Paul's Churches
    Women Associated with Jesus
    Paul's Understanding of Women in the Church
    Women in the Aftermath of Paul
    Ancient Ideologies of Gender
    Gender Ideology and the Pauline Churches
    25. Christians and Jews: Hebrews, Barnabas, and Later Anti-Jewish Literature
    Early Christian Self-Definition
    Continuity and Superiority: The Epistle to the Hebrews
    Discontinuity and Supremacy: The Epistle of Barnabas
    Conclusion: The Rise of Christian Anti-Judaism
    Excursus 6: The Digital Bible
    26. Christians and Pagans: 1 Peter, the Letters of Ignatius, the
    Martyrdom of Polycarp, and Later Apologetic Literature
    The Persecution of the Early Christians
    Christians in a Hostile World: The Letter of 1 Peter
    Christians Sentenced to Death: The Letters of Ignatius
    Christians before the Tribunal: The Martyrdom of Polycarp
    Christians on the Defensive: The Later Apologetic Literature
    27. Christians and Christians: James, the Didache, Polycarp, 1 Clement, Jude, and 2 Peter
    The Epistle of James
    The Didache
    Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians
    1 Clement
    2 Peter
    Conclusion: Conflicts within the Early Christian Communities
    28. Christians and the Cosmos: The Revelation of John,
    The Shepherd of Hermas, and the Apocalypse of Peter
    Introduction: The End of the World and the Revelation of John
    The Content and Structure of the Book of Revelation
    The Book of Revelation from a Historical Perspective
    Apocalyptic Worldviews and the Apocalypse Genre
    The Revelation of John in Historical Context
    The Shepherd of Hermas
    The Apocalypse of Peter
    Glossary of Terms