An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge
Dirk Jongkind
Crossway, 2019

The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (short title Tyndale House Edition, abbreviated as THGNT) was released in 2017. The most well-known name associated with it is Peter J Williams. This is a 120 page introduction to the particular features of that edition – though it also answers bigger questions, about how we got the Bible, what textual criticism involves, etc. Although ‘through the ages the existence of textual variants has been seen as a danger to, or an argument against, the notion of the divine nature of the Scriptures’, Jongkind disagrees. The book is concise, though most of it is probably aimed at seminary level and above.

In terms of the manuscripts, Jongkind believes ‘no single textual family has preserved the best wording of the text’. A chapter entitled ‘Why not the Received Text?’, makes a number of helpful points. Firstly, Jongkind identifies this as a uniquely Protestant problem, saying ‘I don’t know of any Christians within Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism who defend the Textus Receptus’. He also points out that ‘Accepting the Textus Receptus as the authoritative text of the New Testament means that one accepts the printed text of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In practice, this means that even if the Textus Receptus offers a text not found in any Greek manuscript dating from before the published editions, still the Greek text of a printed edition is accepted. An example is Revelation 22:19: the Textus Receptus has βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς, “book of life,” instead of ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς, “tree of life,” as all Greek manuscript evidence testifies’. He then goes on to answer the question ‘So why are defenders of the Textus Receptus willing to go against all preserved evidence?’

Jongkind uses an Old Testament example to argue that God’s Word ‘has always been available to the church, though sometimes with more clarity than at other times. This is even illustrated in the biblical history itself. Who knew the details of the law in the days immediately before the rediscovery of the scroll in the temple during Josiah’s reign (2 Kings 22)? As far as the historical evidence suggests, not everyone has had access at all times to the perfect, original wording of the New Testament’.

An introduction to a Greek New Testament obviously isn’t for everyone. It’s also quite expensive for what it is. But for a conservative evangelical, and yet bang up-to-date, approach to textual criticism, it is well worth having. A good alternative for the layperson would be Peter J William’s Can we trust the gospels?

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Confronting Christianity

Confronting Christianity: 12 hard questions for the world’s largest religion
Rebecca McLaughlin
Crossway, 2019

I wouldn’t have noticed this book were it not for a glowing recommendation from one of my favourite Bible scholars, Peter J Williams. The subtitle of the book explains what it’s about, and the hard questions include topics such as diversity, science, women, homophobia, suffering and hell.

The introduction is brilliant, with many ‘myth-busting statistics’ (as Williams calls them) showing the failure of the ‘secularization hypothesis’. It’s a real shot in the arm, and a great antidote to doom and gloom to read projections that have Christianity growing and atheism declining. The first chapter – ‘Aren’t we better off without religion?’ cites a Harvard School of Public Health professor saying that religion may be a miracle drug (given its physical and mental health benefits), and that the rise of secularisation in the States is a public-health crisis.

Other highlights include the stat that ‘the most likely people to be Christians are women of colour’, her section on how being against homosexuality isn’t equivalent to racism, and her myth-busting sections on the Crusades and Galileo (the latter was ‘a Christian who argued vociferously that heliocentrism did not undermine the bible – attempting to make theological arguments got him in trouble with the pope’).

It’s not a perfect book – in the chapter on science she comes out in support of millions of years and the big bang. While supporting male headship, her dismissal of traditional gender roles probably goes too far. She also seems to uncritically accept all who claim the label Christian, whether Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, with recent revelations about the latter making the references to him right throughout the book seem particularly unwise. Overall, I was left with the feeling that she conceded too much to the culture.

I would still give the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars, recommend it as a challenge to non-Christians and an encouragement & apologetic resource for believers. I look forward to drawing on it when addressing these topics in preaching.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Can we trust the gospels? (book review)

Can we trust the gospels?
Peter J. Williams
Crossway, 2018

can-we-trust-the-gospels

This is a book that’s been a long time coming. Peter Williams says he’s been speaking about this subject for over 20 years, but waiting for time to write it down (and also says that the material improved with feedback). That explains why much of it sounded familiar to me after watching/listening to a lot of his stuff back in 2011.

It really is a brilliant book. Given the subject, some of it is fairly technical, but if it’s a choice between working through this and basing your eternal future on The Da Vinci Code it’s a no brainer. I would give this to everyone heading off to university. He says ‘this book is not about proving that the Gospels are true but about demonstrationing that they can be rationally trusted’. Yet it’s hard not to finish the book coming to the conclusion: ‘If the picture of Jesus in the Gospels is true, it logically demands that we give up possession of our lives to serve Jesus Christ, who said repeatedly in every Gospel, “Follow me.”’

So many Christians books are padded out, but in Williams’s 140 pages every word counts. Whether in audio or video format (or mixed into sermons or introductions to Bible readings), this is content that you’ll want to get into as many peoples’ hands as possible.

Some more recent videos from him are available here.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Peter J Williams on the Reliability of the Gospels

A few months ago I linked to a really interesting video featuring Peter Williams under the title “The Actual Charge Sheet for Jesus Crucifixion?”. The video below has been called by John Piper “the most remarkable (video) lecture on the reliability of the Gospels I’ve ever heard”. If you’ve ever wondered if we can really trust the Bible / how can we respond to attacks on its reliability then watch this and be reassured and encouraged! He gave a similar lecture at the Next 2011 Conference if you would rather audio than video.

Peter Williams (stick in the J if you’re googling for resources as there’s another one about doing similar stuff!) is Warden of Tyndale House. Justin Taylor has an interview with him here. The Gospel Coalition have some sermons/lectures here.

Some great stuff! Highly recommended.