The strength of the church and the vitality of the individual Christian's life are directly related
to the role Scripture plays in them. Early believers knew the importance of this and spent their time
in fellowship, prayer, and the study of God's Word. The passing of two thousand years has not changed
the need, but it has changed the accessibility of many of the Bible's ideas. Time has distanced us from
those days, and we often need guidance back in the world of the Old and New Testament.
To that end Baker Book House is producing two separate but related series of biblical
textbooks. The design of these new series is to put us back into the world of the biblical text, so
that we may understand it as those early believers did and at the same time see it from and for our
own day, thus facilitating the application of its truths to our contemporary situation.
Encountering Biblical Studies consists of undergraduate-level texts, and two surveys
treating the Old and New Testaments provide the foundation for this series. Accompanying these survey
texts are two collateral volumes of readings, which illuminate the world surrounding the biblical text.
Built on these basic survey texts are upper-level college texts covering the books of the Bible that
are most frequently offered in the curriculum of Christian colleges.
A related series, entitled Engaging Biblical Studies, provides graduate-level treatments
for introduction and theology courses.
Complementing both levels of textbooks is a set of standard reference books that may
be consulted for answers to specific questions or more in-depth study of biblical ideas. These reference
books include The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Topical Analysis of the Bible, Baker Encyclopedia
of the Bible, Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, and Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.
Encountering and Engaging Biblical Studies series are written from an evangelical point
of view, in the firm conviction that the Scripture is absolutely true and never misleads us. It is
the sure foundation on which our faith and life may be built because it unerringly leads willing readers
to Jesus Christ.
Walter A. Elwell
Bible courses must be considered the heart of the curriculum for Christian colleges and evangelical
seminaries. For Christians the Bible constitutes the basis for both our spiritual and our intellectual
lives-indeed for all of life. If these courses are fundamental to Christian education, then the
textbooks used for these courses could not be more crucial.
Baker Book House is launching two separate but related series of volumes for college-and
seminary-level Bible courses. Encountering Biblical Studies consists of undergraduate texts, while
Engaging Biblical Studies represent graduate-level treatments.
In these two series, Baker will publish texts that are clearly college-level, and
introductory and biblical theology texts that are explicitly seminary-level. The textbooks for the basic
college survey courses and for the more advanced college courses on individual Bible books will be
designed expressively for this purpose.
Texts for the seminary courses in Old Testament and New Testament introduction and
biblical theology will induct the student into graduate-level study of the Testaments, even while
remembering that many seminarians are preparing for ministry rather than for further graduate study and
a career in academia.
Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey is the first volume to be
published in the college-level Encountering Biblical Studies series. As part of the process of developing
this volume, the series editors, authors, and publisher established the following principles for this
basic-level college text:
1. It must reflect a high level of evangelical scholarship.
2. It must be written at a level that most of today's college freshmen can understand.
While this level should not be so low as to constitute a "dumbing down" of the text, it must be within
the reach of most students.
3. It must be pedagogically sound. This extends no only to traditional concerns like
study questions for each chapter, but also to the order and manner in which material is presented.
4. It must recognize that most students today are oriented more to the visual than
to the verbal, and seek to take advantage of that fact with photographs, maps, charts, and graphs.
5. It must be realistic about the level of biblical literacy characteristic of most
6. It must seek to draw in the student, in part by focusing on biblical teaching
concerning crucial doctrinal and ethical matters.
The goals of Encountering the New Testament fall into two categories: intellectual and attitudinal.
The intellectual goals are to (1) present the factual content of each book of the New Testament, (2)
introduce historical, geographical, and cultural backgrounds, (3) outline primary hermeneutical principles,
(4) touch on critical issues (e.g., why some people read the Bible differently), and (5) substantiate
the Christian faith.
The attitudinal goals are also fivefold: (1) to help make the Bible a part of student's
lives, (2) to instill in students a love for the Scriptures, (3) to make them better people, (4) to
enhance their piety, and (5) to stimulate their love for God. In short, if this text builds a foundation
for a lifetime of encountering God through scriptural study, the author's and publisher's goals will be met.
Informing the writing of Encountering the New Testament have been three essential theological
themes: God, people, and the gospel as it relates to individuals. The notion that God is a person-on
and three- and a transcendent and immanent Being has been woven throughout the text. Moreover, this God
created people in his image who fell yet remain the objects of his redemptive love. The gospel id the
means, the active personal power that God uses, to rescue from darkness and death. But the gospel does
more than rescue-it restores. In confers on otherwise hopeless sinners the resolve and strength to
live lives that please God, because they walk in the love that comes from God.
The publisher's aim has been to provide a resource that is unique on the one hand but not merely
trendy on the other. Distinguishing features that we hope will prove helpful to the professor and
inspiring to the student include the following:
- Mulitmedia interactive compact disc to enhance the student's learning experience.
- Copious illustrations, photographs, figures, tables, charts-all in full color.
- Sidebars providing two types of material. Yellow-colored boxes succinctly explore ethical and
theological issues of interest and concern to modern-day collegians. Blue-colored boxes provide primary
source material, including biblical and extrabiblical texts.
- Focus Boxes that isolate key issues and make relevant applications.
- Glossary presented at the end of the book.
- Chapter outline and objectives presented a the opening of each chapter.
- Study questions, review questions, annotated bibliography, and chapter summaries at the end of
each chapter. The answers to the review questions are presented a the end of the book.
- Ancillary items: teacher's manual, test bank, transparencies, and other items.
Three items supplement Encountering the New Testament. The first item, the instructor's
manual, is available on a floppy disc. The second is a compact disc attached to the back of the book.
The third is a paperback volume consisting of primary source material.
1. Instructor's Resource Manual with Test Items. In addition to including numerous
objective-type test items, this resource includes suggestions in using the textbook, chapter outlines,
chapter objectives, chapter summaries, key terms, master transparencies, lecture outlines, media
resources, and bibliography.
2. Student's Multimedia Interactive CD-ROM. Developed by biblical scholar Chris
Miller and educational specialist Phil Bassett, this product provides:
- video clips of interviews with the authors
- video clips of biblical lands
- still photos of biblical lands
- interactive review questions
- visual organizers
3. Readings from the First-Century World: Primary Sources for New Testament
Study. This is a collection of primary source readings related to the New Testament. These readings
consist of material written in roughly the same era as the New Testament such as letters, legal
documents, and treatises. The readings are arranged so as to correlate with the canonical order of
the New Testament.
The publisher is also convinced that this textbook should be as pedagogically sound
as possible and that it should reflect the best insights from educational psychology. Educational
consultant Janet Merrill, Ed.D., brought her expertise to bear and improved this project significantly.
The publisher extends heartfelt thanks to Dr. Merrill for so capably preparing the instructor's manual,
test items, transparencies, chapter outlines and objectives, Focus Boxes, review questions, and chapter
Chris Miller and Phil Bassett of Cedarville College in Ohio developed the multimedia
interactive CD-ROM with skill and alacrity. Dr. Miller is a biblical scholar with a Ph.D. degree from
Dallas Theological Seminary and possesses unusual computer savvy. Dr. Bassett provided extensive