The pastor's guide to resource materials on the New Testament

New Testament materials that are a must-have for every pastor-theologian.

John McVay, Ph.D., is the president of Walla Walla University, College Place, Washington, United States.
Phillip Long, M.A., is associate professor of biblical studies at Grace Bible College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States.

The rich array of print, electronic, and online resources to aid in New Testament study represents a treasure trove for the pastor. However, the mushrooming of these resources also presents challenges. Where does one begin? Which resources are best? What must you have, either on the bookshelf or on the hard drive?

Here are our recommendations.

Bibliography

Given the limitations of time and money, where can the pastor turn for guidance on what books, especially commentaries, to purchase? Listed here are three in-print and up-to-date bibliographic guides written for pastors. In addition, there are helpful online resources.

1. David R. Bauer, An Annotated Guide to Biblical Resources for Ministry (Hendrickson, 2003). An excellent guide, well arranged, providing solid advice and having the advantage of treating the Old Testament as well. Bauer comments on over two thousand texts. If you purchase only one bibliographical guide, this should probably be it.

2. Ralph P. Martin, New Testament Books for Pastors and Teachers: Revised and Updated to 2002 (Wipf and Stock, 2002). This excellent resource is available in its earlier 1984 edition online through the TheologyBooks.com Web site <www.theologybooks.com/site/biblio.cfm?tkey=7>.

3. D. A. Carson, New Testament Commentary Survey, 5th ed. (Baker, 2001). While this survey is a bit dated, it provides an excellent summary of a wide range of commentaries.

4. The New Testament “Exegesis Bibliography” by Drs. Craig L. Blomberg and William W. Klein, issued as part of the online Denver Journal, is up-to-date (January 2006) and very helpful. Time spent understanding the layout of section 11 on commentaries will be handsomely repaid: <www.denverseminary.edu/dj/articles20060200/0201.php>.

5. The “New Testament Bibliographies” page on the NT Gateway site (see below) may prove useful: <www.ntgateway.com/resource/biblio.htm>.

Purchasing books online

Once you have identified resources you wish to own, where do you purchase them? Increasingly, we are turning to online bookstores. You may well have your own favorite sites for online purchases of New Testament–related materials. Here are ours:

1. <www.allbookstores.com>—Especially helpful for finding the best online price for new books.

2. <www.bookfinder.com>—Especially helpful for locating used or somewhat rare books for sale online.

3. <www.abebooks.com>—Also good for used books.

4. <www.a1books.com>—We often find that A1 Books offers the best price for new, New Testament–related books.

5. <www.christianbook.com>—Though increasingly cluttered by popular Christian merchandise, Chistianbook.com is sophisticated and often offers excellent prices, especially on sets.

6. <www.theologybooks.com>—Perhaps not as helpful as a purchase site as it is for providing online bibliographic suggestions from Evangelical scholars.

7. <www.amazon.com>—Amazon.com often provides new books at discounted prices as well as used books. Amazon now allows the user to browse the text of many books online, including the indexes and copyright pages. More useful still, one can sample a list of citations within the text of the book.

Online and electronic resources

Online resources for studying the New Testament and for preaching are now maturing to the point of providing genuine help. We here offer several core resources:

1. The NT Gateway site, ably developed and maintained by Dr. Mark Goodacre, is the major index for New Testament resources available on the World Wide Web: <ntgateway.com>. Spend some time exploring it and discovering your own favorite resources. Keep in mind that the site offers sources from a wide range of perspectives. For those interested in using or refreshing New Testament Greek skills, the subsite The Greek New Testament Gateway <ntgateway.com/greek/> is a treasure trove.

2. For accessing recent articles on New Testament themes and passages, we recommend obtaining access to the ATLA (American Theological Library Association) index and the related ATLAS (ATLA Serials) database. It now includes valuable journals, such as Journal for Preachers, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal of Pastoral Care, and Novum Testamentum. (See the complete list at <www.atla.com/products/titles/ titles_atlas.html>.) It may be possible to arrange access to these through the seminary from which you graduated (Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary alumni may arrange access to ATLAS by following the directions at <www.andrews.edu/library/alumni/index.html> or by affi liating with a local theological library). Often, identifying a recent, scholarly, but readable, article on your passage or theme can spark new insight.

3. Galaxie Software <www.galaxie.com> publishes the Theological Journal Library, a collection of journals in Libronix (Logos) format. This collection includes Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Bibliotheca sacra, Westminster Theological Journal, Trinity Journal, Review and Expositor, and several others in a fully searchable format.

4. Increasingly, we find relying on an excellent online database to be essential in preaching and teaching. Our favorite one is Academic Search Premier from EBSCOhost. It offers in full text format magazines such as Christian Century, Christianity Today, and Christian History, and journals such as Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, and Catholic Biblical Quarterly. A number of others (e.g., Interpretation and New Testament Studies) are covered using an abstracts format. We recommend that you explore gaining access to it or a similar online database (perhaps at a local library) because it provides a wealth of scholarly and popular resources.

Essential New Testament resources for the pastor’s library

What essential books and other resources, focused on the New Testament, should be in the pastor’s library? An adequate answer would need to take personal interests and skills into account. Here is our sketch of “the essentials”:

1. Greek New Testament resources. If you have taken New Testament Greek in college and/or seminary, you probably already have a library of resources close at hand. At a minimum, these should include a quality Greek text (Nestle-Aland 27th ed. or UBS 4th ed.), the ranking lexicon (Frederick W. Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3d ed., 2000), a quality grammar (e.g. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Beyond the Basics, 1996, or his shorter Basics of New Testament Syntax, 2000), and a multivolume dictionary focused on the theological significance of New Testament vocabulary. We would recommend Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 4 volumes., or Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, 3 vols. You will also find a reading aid such as Sakae Kubo’s A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Max Zerwick and Mary Grosvenor’s A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, or New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament (1998), by Dr. Cleon L. Rogers Jr. and Cleon L. Rogers III, to be extremely helpful, assuming you take the time to learn to use it. In order to review vocabulary, see Mastering New Testament Greek Vocabulary Through Semantic Domains by Mark Wilson (Kregel, 2002), or The Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament by Warren C. Trenchard (Zondervan, 1998). These resources should now be supplemented by a quality Bible software package (our favorite is BibleWorks for Windows, now available in version 7.0 <www.bibleworks.com>, though Mac computer–oriented friends express a preference for Accordance <www.accordancebible.com>). LogosBible Software is currently available in a Windows and a Mac version with a wide array of tools for New Testament study <www.logos.com>. With the help of a good software package and a little dusting off of dormant language skills, you can study the Greek text for yourself. One additional aid for reading the Greek New Testament is the Reader’s Greek New Testament (Zondervan, 2003). Because the Greek text of this volume is not identical to the NA27 or UBS4, it is perhaps not adequate for exegesis, but it is useful for improving reading skills because it glosses words used fewer than 40 times in the New Testament at the bottom of each page.

2. Bible dictionaries. The pastor’s library should include at least one excellent multivolume Bible dictionary (e.g., The Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992) or The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [1979–1988]) and two or three onevolume ones (e.g., Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible [2000]; New Bible Dictionary, 3d ed. [1996]). The series of dictionaries recently offered by InterVarsity Press is also invaluable (Dictionary of New Testament Background [2000]; Dictionary of Biblical Imagery [1998]; Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments [1997]; Dictionary of Paul and His Letters [1993]; Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels [1992]).

3. Commentaries. Here we recommend purchasing volumes with the help of the advice offered by the sources listed under “Bibliography,” above (based on the individual merits of the volume rather than that it is part of a given set of commentaries). As a minimum, build a library with at least two quality volumes covering each New Testament document. One of these may be more academic in focus (and, if your skills allow, will treat the Greek text in detail, such as the New International Greek Text Commentary series published by Eerdmans), while the other may be more focused on exploring themes for preaching and teaching. We recommend building this library over time, preferably in conjunction with preaching through the Bible. For your own personal Bible study and to provide a wider range of views, you should supplement these individual volumes with quality one- or twovolume Bible commentaries (e.g. New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition [1994]; HarperCollins Bible Commentary, rev. ed. [2000]. Using these two together often provides an interesting mix of perspectives).

4. Classic, devotional commentaries. Identifying classic, devotional treatments of New Testament documents can be very helpful. While these books do not offer evaluation of the latest interpretive trends, writers of earlier generations offer much inspiration. Would one really want to do without G. C. Findlay on Ephesians (The Epistle to the Ephesians, 1931) or F. B.Meyer on Philippians (1905) or Hebrews (The Way into the Holiest, 1893)? Carefully nurture a collection of these works. Crossway Books has published a single volume compendium of classic devotional literature in The Classic Bible Commentary (1999). InterVarsityPress’s Ancient Christian Commentary series collects choice comments from church fathers in single volumes.

5. Exegetical method. Gordon D. Fee, New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors, 3d ed. (Westminster: John Knox, 2002) offers good, sound, detailed advice on the exegetical process and includes a commented bibliography of exegetical tools. Grant R. Osborne’s The Hermeneutical Spiral (InterVarsity Press, 1997) and Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard (Word, 1993) remain useful handbooks on exegetical method.

6. Other Areas. With the help of the bibliographic aids listed above, you will wish to add to these essentials, especially in areas such as history and background (The IVP Bible Background Commentary, 1994), textual criticism and history of the canon (Paul D. Wegner, The Journey from Text to Translations [Baker, 1999]), introductions (D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament [Zondervan, 2005]), theology (George Eldon Ladd and Donald A. Hagner, A Theology of the New Testament, rev. ed. [Eerdmans, 1993]), and ethics (Glen H. Stassen and David P. Gushee, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context [InterVarsity Press, 2003]).


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John McVay, Ph.D., is the president of Walla Walla University, College Place, Washington, United States.
Phillip Long, M.A., is associate professor of biblical studies at Grace Bible College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States.

May 2006

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