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Book Review

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The publication of this book completes the second edition of Helmut Koester’s important two-volume introduction to early Christian literature and history, published originally in 1982. Like the second edition of the first volume, which appeared in 1995, this edition seeks to make current the now classic and well-known introductory volume, while maintaining its structure and organization. After covering the formation of the canon, text critical issues and an all too brief introduction to methods—only source, form, tradition, narrative and rhetorical criticism are discussed, the latter two being new to this edition—texts are discussed in chronological and geographical sequence, beginning with traditions about John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul, then covering Palestine and Syria (where he locates both the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and John), and Asia, Macedonia, Greece and Rome. The book is less an introduction to New Testament writings than it is an attempt to paint a comprehensive picture of the development of early Christianity, creating a map of the relationships between the various texts, both canonical and non- canonical. Although one can disagree with the shape of the map and where some of the texts are placed in relation to others, it is extraordinarily useful as a place to start or a point of reference.


Society of Biblical Literature

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Review of Biblical Literature

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