"The Story Retold" by G.K. Beale and Benjamin L. Gladd. A Review

I remember taking an Introduction to the New Testament class while I was in the Air Force. It was from a local college that met on the Air Base where I was stationed. I'd already been in the military 7 years and was a young Christian, having been converted while stationed in Turkey a few years earlier. The class was taught by a local pastor from a "mainline" denomination. Besides the questionable curriculum we had to read, there was a huge disjuncture between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Now, many decades later, and after Seminary and my doctoral studies, I was delighted to see a new 560-page textbook that introduces the New Testament by couching "every major passage within the broad history of redemption," and that strives to "make sense of the New Testament in light of the Old" (XI). G. K. Beale, the J. Gresham Machen Chair of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, has teamed up with Benjamin L. Gladd, associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, to hand undergraduates, and anyone else interested, a resource that will last them for years and years. "The Story Retold: A Biblical Introduction to the New Testament" is a glossy-paged hardback that delivers on what it promises.

The volume begins with two introductory chapters: "The Story Line of the Bible" and "The Use of the Old Testament in the New." Here, the authors explain their rationale for the approach taken in this tome. As Beale and Gladd state, "the Bible presents a single, grand narrative that reveals who we are, who God is, and his goal for all creation" (1). If a reader is familiar with Beale's works, they will recognize his fingerprints all over these pages. And any student launching into this material will be given solid explanations and sound examples for how to hear and read the New Testament.

The bulk of the book walks through all twenty-seven New Testament documents. The chapter formats follow a steady path that tackles authorship, date, purpose, outline, biblical-theological themes, and then something of a healthy mini-commentary. The two-column print is easy on the eyes, and the pages are profitably peppered with pictures, and at-a-glance charts. Many of the pictures are delightfully helpful, as they show early manuscripts, historical places, and a few models. Lastly, the one-inch margins allow plenty of room for notes.

"The Story Retold" is truly a college-level textbook. But it is an ideal resource for students of all stripes, whether on campus or simply desiring to study on their own. It is a wise investment, and a reader will return to it again and again, as they seek to investigate the New Testament. Even though I have thousands of books in my library, and hundreds of commentaries, I have already used this volume a number of times for sermon and lesson preparation, as well as personal enhancement. Therefore, I have no qualms in recommending this book, and encouraging all to race out and purchase a copy quickly.

My appreciation goes out to IVP Academic for sending me the copy of this textbook used for this assessment. I asked for it and they happily and promptly sent it. The publisher made zero demands on me, thus, my analysis above is freely made and freely given.

The book can be purchased here: The Story Retold


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