Book Review: The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown

The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles

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Thanks to the kind folks at B&H Academic for this review copy! I received this free copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

Content wise, this survey text is like many of its predecessors and contemporaries in that it follows a rather standard organizational scheme. The introduction (part one) is focused on the nature and scope of Scripture and the historical background of the New Testament era, part two on Jesus and the Gospels (with each book discussed individually), part three on the book of Acts and on the Pauline corpus, part four on the epistles (general and Johannine) and Revelation, and part five a concluding discussion of the unity and diversity of the New Testament. The back matter consists of a glossary and indexes for names, subjects, and scripture references.

Where this introduction distinguishes itself (though certainly not from all) is in the inclusion of various informative sidebars, akin to the signs you may encounter at a historical landmark that provide details to aid in your inquiry, which are scattered throughout the book. To give you an idea, I’ll describe some of these features in the chapter on the Gospel of Matthew. The first of these informative extras is a two-page excursus on the question of whether or not Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew (182–83). Later, there are tables with info on the five Matthean discourses (194), Jesus’ twelve disciples (200–01), parables in the synoptics (204–05), and fulfillment of OT prophecy (215). There are also maps, brief devotional-type pieces entitled “Something to Think About”, and a review section at the end. Because Matthew is a long book, there are more of these elements for it, but they show up in practically every chapter.

As you might expect, each chapter that concerns an individual book begins with two elements that are designed with the student in mind: the “core knowledge” and “key facts” of each book. The “core knowledge” is comprised of three levels of knowledge that a professor/instructor may use as a guide in determining what their students may be expected to know after reading and reflecting on a given chapter. These three levels are basic, intermediate, and advanced, each one obviously increasing in the level of knowledge the writers assume the student might achieve. The “key facts” are typical fodder for introductions: author, date, provenance, destination, purpose, theme, and key verses.

One minor negative I want to mention concerns the “Suggestions for Further Reading” sections at the end of each chapter. Given the conservative bent of the authors, it is no surprise that the volumes recommended largely toe the conservative theological line. Again, this is no major surprise; however, I always appreciate reading recommendations that lay somewhat outside my own theological comforts. This hardly constitutes a major flaw in the book, but something worth noting. Errata were decidedly few; in fact, I only recall seeing one instance in the table of contents. The indexes for the people, subjects, and scripture references are said to be “forthcoming”; yet, they are included in the book—presumably an editorial oversight.

In sum, there is much to commend in this volume and it will find (or has found at this point) an audience among more conservative students and readers, though there will likely be some appeal outside of those circles. As a textbook, it’s very useful—the various info-laden extras will certainly be of help for those readers who actually utilize them. This volume basically is a complete package as far as textbooks go—it’s well written and a very enjoyable read.

I have a number of NT intros on my shelves and my hard drive (Metzger, Drane, Guthrie, Carson and Moo, Ehrman, Hagner) and they have all served me well. Will this volume replace any of those? No, not by a long shot; however, I am glad to have it on my shelf and have used it with great benefit. I gladly recommend it to anyone looking for a suitable primer for studying the NT.

Αυτω η δοξα

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