Originally published in 1995, this 2011 second edition undertakes the task of updating the earlier with more recent research and its results. I appreciate very much the kind folk (Adrianna Wright in particular) of IVP Academic for sending along a copy for me to take a look at.
You can check out the very extensive table of contents here.
If you check out that table of contents you’ll note that the volume is comprised of seven major divisions. As Patzia remarks, though, it isn’t the typical ‘introduction’ to the New Testament as it doesn’t concern itself with the usual questions which introductions address. Rather, ‘… on the issues that inform us how the sayings of Jesus, the traditions of the early church and the thoughts of certain writers such as Paul and others eventually culminated in the New Testament’ (p. 14). Or in other words, P. is interested in how the New Testament became the New Testament.
That’s why it’s not surprising that he offers a fairly traditional (but definitely not fundamentalist) explanation of the literary world of the New Testament, the making of the Gospels, the making of Paul’s letters and the other NT books, the making of the canon and text critical issues.
Proof that Patzia is no fundamentalist (and shouldn’t be taken, or read, as one) is his discussion of ‘inspiration’ (in part five amidst his discourse on the making of the canon). He offers students (and do take note, this is material which beginning students or interested lay persons can most benefit from- it is written with them in mind) a very concise and yet very elegant description of the facts as they stand. Inspiration wasn’t the basis for inclusion of books in the New Testament, it was the result. P. quotes Stendahl who wrote
It was not until the red ribbon of the self-evident had been tied around the twenty-seven books of the New Testament that ‘inspiration’ could serve theologians as an answer to the question: Why are these books different from all other books? (p. 173).
If Patzia is an inerrantist or an infallibilitist one cannot detect an overt interest in convincing others that they should adopt such a position. He just presents the facts without dogmatizing along the way. He is conservative, but he is well within his rights to be so.
His work is solid, his methodology is sound, and his results are reliable. What else could one want from a scholarly monograph? There are even charts, graphs, and informational panels!
If you are looking for a book which will show your students how their New Testament got to be what it is, this is the one.