Sunday, March 16, 2008

Book Review: New Testament Theology - Frank J. Matera

Frank J. Matera
New Testament Theology: Exploring Diversity and Unity
Louisville/London: Westminster John Knox, 2007.
Available from Alban Books
Available from

Frank Matera is Andrews-Kelly-Ryan Professor of Biblivcal Studies at the Catholic University of America. He is already well known for his work on NT Christology, NT Ethics, Galatians, 2 Corinthians, and his Ph.D thesis on a redactional critical approach to Mark 15.

The book includes the mandatory about introducton and then examines the Synoptic Tradition (dealing with each Gospel individually), the Pauline tradition (grouping the letters together such as Galatians/Romans, Captivity Epistles, Pastoral Epistles), Johannine Tradition (Gospel and Epistles) and other voices (General Epistles and Revelation). He then concludes with a section of the diverse unity of a New Testament Theology based around the headings of: "Humanity in Need of Salvation", "The Bringer of Salvation", "The Community of the Sanctified", "The Moral Life of the Sanctified", and "The Hope of the Sanctified".

Matera's project is to explore the "diverse unities" of the New Testament. He contends that a New Testament Theology should be "bolder" than offering descriptions of the theologies of the various authors/corpora but provide "a theological interpretation of the New Testament that integrates and relates the diverse theologies of the New Testament into a unified whole without harmonizing them" (xxvii). In his view the benefit of a New Testament Theology is that "it can provide readers with an overview of the New Testament; it makes important connections among the writings of the New Testament that one might otherwise overlook; it wrestles with theunity of God's revealtion in Christ; its results can be of assistance to systematic theology (xxxi)."

Out of the plethora of New Testament Theologies around, this remains a helpful for for identifying the variety and unity of the New Testament message about Jesus and God.

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