The subtitle of Crossley’s book is ‘Contemporary approaches’. In chapter one he dispenses with the most basic of introductory matters in 4.13 short pages. First, he introduces the plan of his book, and then he introduces readers to the contents of the New Testament in the broadest possible terms.
In the opening lines of the chapter C. writes
Readers should emphatically not read this book as a series of definitive ways in which to read this collection of texts which have been the subject of disputes, often bloody, for effectively two millenia. This book is not called, How to Read the New Testament (p. 1).
Rather, the book aims to open up to students and interested readers of the NT the wide range of potential reading strategies which can be applied to the NT. So the book consists of four sections- which are ‘historical’, ‘classical questions of Christian origins’, ‘reception history’ and ‘examples of these methodologies’.
After outlining his work Crossley asks the most basic of questions- ‘What is the New Testament?’ Here C. describes in the simplest of terms the contents of the collection we call the NT. His treatment is characterized by absolute fairness and even handed consideration of various viewpoints. For instance, in discussing the deutero-paulines the fact that some deny pauline authorship while others assert it is merely stated and not judged. Radicals and Fundamentalists alike will be disappointed by Crossley’s rejection of extremes. On the other hand, intelligent persons will find his approach refreshing.
Chapter one simply sets the stage. The real meat comes in the following chapters. So, in our next installment we’ll see what he does with ‘Reading Historical Documents Historically: From Historical Criticisms to Literary Criticisms and Back’. Stay tuned…