G.K. Beale and Benjamin L. Gladd. The Story Retold: A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament. IVP Academic, 2020. Go here to purchase the book.
The Story Retold is an introductory textbook about the New
Testament. Its authors, G.K. Beale and Benjamin L. Gladd, are candid
that it is a different textbook from what is out there. They admit that
it does not focus on historical context, authorship, or scholarly
trends, and they recommend another textbook they have written that goes
more deeply into that. The Story Retold is more
biblical-theological. It attempts to show that themes in each book of
the New Testament echo and continue themes that are present in the Old
Whether they successfully do that is up to the reader. Does Paul’s
doctrine of justification by faith rather than works echo and continue
Old Testament themes about humility before God and relying on God rather
than human ability? Perhaps. But I can understand if some readers deem
some of the connections to be artificial.
And, since this is a Beale book, you will see Beale themes: that God
created human beings to be stewards of creation. Does the New Testament
echo and value this theme as much as Beale does, or is Beale
artificially making it do so, importing themes that are not explicitly
there? Again, that is up to the reader.
What stands out to me is a “failure to launch” aspect of this book.
The book raises intriguing questions but fails to answer them
adequately. Some examples:
—-The Old Testament prophets and Paul in the New Testament
(particularly Paul) have contrasting eschatological expectations. The
Old Testament prophets predict that God will restore the nation of
Israel and then Gentiles will worship God. Paul reverses the
expectation—-Israelites will repent after Gentiles come to God (Romans
11)—-and places Gentile Christians within the nation of Israel as the
equals of Jews. Okay, fine observation. But what do we do with it? Were
the Old Testament prophets wrong? Was Paul misinterpreting them?
—-The Epistle to the Hebrews denies that the blood of bulls and goats
can take away sins. Christ’s death was necessary for forgiveness to
occur. Yet, when we read the Old Testament, God still forgives sins, and
animal sacrifices appear to have atoning value. Again, fine
observation. But where do we go with that? Was there a difference
between Old Testament and New Testament forgiveness? What did Jesus
bring that did not exist before?
—-II Peter talks about a new heavens and a new earth, drawing from
the concept in the Book of Isaiah. Beale and Gladd astutely attempt to
tie the theme as it appears in Isaiah with how II Peter employs it, but
they do so by emphasizing realized eschatology, without really showing
that II Peter has that.
I read this book after Thomas Schreiner’s book on Pauline theology.
Not to pit the books against each other, but Schreiner’s book was deep,
so reading The Story Retold after it was a bit of a letdown. The Story Retold is still edifying, but it was disappointing, in certain respects.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.
Flattered To Death
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