New Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction



Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha & Dead Sea Scrolls
Synoptic Question



Order of Contents

NT Authenticity  4
NT Survey & Introduction
.       Simpler  6
.       Intermediate  10+
.       Advanced  5
NT Background
.       Modern Sources  5
.       Ancient Sources  7

Epistles: Introduction & Background  1
.       Pauline Epistles  6+
.       General Epistles  3
.       Letters of John  1

Archaeology  5
.       Coins  1



New Testament Authenticity



Haldane, Robert – ch. 1, ‘The Genuineness & Authenticity of the Holy Scriptures: the New Testament’  32 pp.  in The Books of the Old & New Testaments Proved to be Canonical, & their Verbal Inspiration Maintained & Established; with an Account of the Introduction & Character of the Apocrypha  (Edinburgh: W. Whyte, 1830), pp. 45-87



Tenney, Merrill C. – ‘Reversals of New Testament Criticism’  14 pp.  in  Revelation & the Bible. Contemporary Evangelical Thought, ed. Carl Henry  (Baker, 1958), pp. 353-67



Ramsay, William – The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trust-Worthiness of the New Testament  (Printed at author’s expense for presentation, 1914)  460 pp.  ToC  These were the James Sprunt lectures deliivered at Union Theological Seminary, VA.

Ramsay was a conservative, Scottish archaeologist who became convinced of the trust-worthiness of the New Testament documents through his career long examination of them.

Linnemann, Eta – Biblical Criticism on Trial: How Scientific is ‘Scientific Theology’?  Buy  (Kregel, 1990)  213 pp.  ToC



N.T. Survey & Introduction:  Simpler


Schaff, Philip & Matthew Riddle – ‘General Introduction to the New Testament’  10 pp.  in A Popular Commentary on the New Testament  (Edinburgh: T&T CLark, 1879), vol. 1, pp. 3-13




Martin, James – Origin & History of the New Testament  (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1884)  285 pp.  ToC  with a Preface and critical notes by Rev. David Brown of the Free Church of Scotland

“A balanced study of the NT canon.” – Cyril Barber

Kerr, John – An Introduction to the Study of the Books of the New Testament  (Fleming H. Revell, 1892)  366 pp.  ToC  with an Introduction by B.B. Warfield.  The work covers General Introduction on the N.T. and Special Introduction to each of the N.T. books



Machen, J. Gresham – The Literature & History of New Testament Times  Buy  (n.d.)  386 pp.  ToC

Machen (d. 1937) was the principal founder of Westminster Seminary and of what is no the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

“The writing of John Gresham Machen as characterized by clarity of thought, depth of scholarship, and an evident passion for the message of the Bible…  In plain yet graphic fashion, the New Testament is here introduced without its message being relegated to a position of secondary importance.  The groundwork of history and geography, biography and interpretation, is covered thoroughly, and yet in a manner uncluttered by references to innumerable scholars, and in a warmly vibrant style…  This is a popular work in the best sense…” – Banner of Truth

Strong, Augustus H. – Popular Lectures on the Books of the New Testament  (Philadelphia: Griffith & Rowland Press, 1914)  398 pp.  ToC

“This book… is a… report of lectures delivered to a large Sunday-school class, which at times numbered as many as three hundred.  This fact will explain the familiar and even colloquial style of address.  While the problems of history and exegesis were discussed, the lectures were intended to be popular, in the sense of being intelligible to all.  It is hoped that this has not prevented them from being fairly representative of the results of modern scholarship.” – Preface

Berkhof, Louis – New Testament Introduction  (Eerdmans-Sevensma, 1915)  350 pp.  ToC

A handy conservative reference for background info on each book of the NT.  Berkhof was reformed, and was a Dutch-American professor.



N.T. Survey & Introduction:  Intermediate Level


Heidegger, Johann H. – Bible Handbook: New Testament  (d. 1698)

Heidegger (1633–1698) was a Swiss reformed theologian.



Fairbairn, Patrick – Hermeneutical Manual, or [General] Introduction to the Exegetical Study of the New Testament  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1858)  480 pp.  ToC

Fairbairn was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland.

Salmon, George – A Historical Introduction to the Study of the Books of the New Testament, being an Expansion of Lectures  (London: John Murray, 1880)  670 pp.  ToC

Salmon (1819–1904) was an Irish mathematician and Anglican scholar.

Wikipedia:  This work “…was widely read, is an account of the reception and interpretation of the gospels in the early centuries of Christianity as seen through the writings of leaders such as Irenaeus and Eusebius.”

John Broadus said that his “…views as to the origin and authority of this Gospel [of Matthew] would be substantially the same as may be found in Salmon’s Introduction to the New Testament; Hovey’s General Introduction.”

Godet, Frederick – Studies on the New Testament  (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1895)  420 pp.  ToC

Godet was generally a conservative scholar.  It appears that he only finished his introduction to the synoptic gospels and not the rest of the New Testament.



Thiessen, Henry Clarence – Introduction to the New Testament  Buy  (Eerdmans, 1943)  360 pp.  ToC

Thiessen was a professor at Wheaton College and a dispensationalist.

“Still valuable.  Some prefer Thiessen’s handling of such matters as the Synoptic Problem [pt. 2, ch. 5] to the newer treatments by Guthrie and Harrison.” – Cyril Barber

“Thiessen ably sets forth the conservative view of the New Testament. ‘The author believes that the plenary inspiration of the autographs of the New Testament is the only logical view that can be held by those who accept the true deity as well as the perfect humanity of Christ.'” – bookflap

Hadjiantoniou, George – New Testament Introduction  Buy  (Moody Press, 1957)  350 pp.

“Its chief value lies in the author’s familiarity with the writings of the Church Fathers.” – Cyril Barber

Harrison, Everett – Introduction to the New Testament  rev. ed.  Buy  (1971)  525 pp.

“For a scholarly level, see the generally reliable works of…  Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament…“ – Joel Beeke

Tenney, Merrill C.

New Testament Survey  Buy  rev. ed.  (1961; Eerdmans, 1985)  445 pp.  ToC

Tenney (d. 1985) was a professor at Wheaton College, IL.

“Written in a clear, non-technical style, New Testament Survey is an analytic and historical survey which sets forth the message of the New Testament against a fully integrated picture of the world of the first century.” – The book-flap

“A most useful survey of the whole New Testament field… a really valuable piece of work.” – F.F. Bruce

New Testament Times  Buy  (Eerdmans, 1965 / 1983)  380 pp.  ToC

“The revelation of God in the New Testament was imparted through men who lived in a definite locale of time and space, and who spoke in the imagery and circumstances of their own era.  While the truth and application of the message are unquestionably eternal and unchanging, the correct interpretation depends largely upon a proper comprehension of its historical setting…  This book is not intended primarily to deal with the literary or theological content of the New Testament (for which see the author’s New Testament Survey [above]), but to provide a better background for correlating its historical allusions, and thus facilitating its interpretation.” – Preface

“A valuable reconstruction of the cultural milieu into which Christ was born and in which the apostolic church developed.  Includes an evaluation of three cultural tensions which existed simultaneously, namely, Judaism, Roman imperialism, and Hellenism.  Well illustrated.” – Cyril Barber


Since 2000

Robinson, John A.T.

Redating the New Testament  Buy  (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 2000)  384 pp.  ToC

Conservative N.T. scholars used to believe that the synoptic Gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk) and many or most of the epistles were written in the 40’s, 50’s, or at the latest the 60’s A.D, exactly when one would expect them to be written if they were true, first-hand accounts that were written shortly after those events occurred, given normal historical forces relating to the desire to preserve their important witness to the Gospel, before the emerging Church.

Liberalism, however, during the mid-to late 1800’s, continuing dominant into the 1900’s, pushed these dates later past A.D. 70 (when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed) into the 80’s, 90’s and sometimes the mid-2nd century, thus making these documents less closely tied to the events they describe, and hence less reliable.  Evangelicals in the 1900’s, sadly but predictably, followed liberal scholarship so that such late dates for the writings of the New Testament are now the established norm of mainstream evangelical scholarship.

John A. T. Robinson, who was an Anglican bishop and fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and a theological modernist (paradoxically), here makes the fullest contemporary case for the early (conservative) dating of the N.T. documents.

C. H. Dodd, in a letter to Robinson, wrote, “I should agree with you that much of the late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton[;] the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that, if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church, he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud.”

Robinson’s main, over arching argument, is that the documents show a detailed acquaintance with the specifics of the Temple as it stood, they predicted its fall, and there is no indication in their writings that the Temple was then destroyed or of a time when it was not present (such as after AD 70).  To see how weak the arguments are for a late dating of Matthew, see pp. 31-32 of this excerpt of Kruger’s Introduction (referenced below).

The Priority of John  Buy  (1987)

“In The Priority of John, Robinson furthered the argument put forward in Redating the New Testament that all the books were written before 70 AD, by focusing on the book that is placed early least often.  He also wanted to prove that John is independent of the Synoptics and better than them at describing the length and time period of Jesus’ ministry, Palestinian geography, and the cultural milieu of the early first century there.” – Wikipedia

Carson, D.A. & Moo, Douglas – An Introduction to the New Testament  Buy  2nd ed.  (2005)  760 pp.

Carson is a professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois.  Moo is a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.

This work “focuses on ‘special introduction’, that is, historical questions dealing with authorship, date, sources, purpose, audience, and so forth…  For each New Testament document, the authors also provide a substantial summary of that book’s content, discuss the book’s theological contribution to the overall canon, and give an account of current studies on that book, including recent literary and social-science approaches to interpretation.” – The book-flap

“For a scholarly level, see the generally reliable works of…  D.A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament…“ – Joel Beeke

Wallace, Daniel – New Testament: Introductions and Outlines  (2009)

Wallace is a professor of New Testament and is known for his intermediate-level grammar on the Greek of the New Testament.

ed. Kruger, Michael – A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: the Gospel Realized  Buy  Pre  (2016)

This volume, done by a number of Reformed Theological Seminary professors, is an attempt to do New Testament Introduction through the lens of Biblical Theology.  That is, they answer the regular questions on each book of who, what, when, where & why, while giving a Biblical theology on each book of the N.T.

The work is done well, and it is reformed and conservative in outlook (see a review here and the preview linked above), though do note that Biblical Theology is much more expansive than simply Biblical theologies of each book of the Bible, and hence this volume by no means exhausts its subject.



N.T. Survey & Introduction:  Advanced


Westcott, B.F. – A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament  (Cambridge: MacMillan, 1881)  650 pp.  ToC

Westcott was a liberal.  This is mainly here for historical purposes.

“Many aspects of this work are still foundational in a study of the canon of the NT today.” – Cyril Barber

Gloag, Paton – Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels, the Johannine Writingsthe Pauline Epistles & the Catholic Epistles  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1895)  ToC 1, 2, 3, 4

Gloag was Church of Scotland minister and Biblical scholar.  Gloag had some liberal tendencies, though, according to the Dictionary of National Biography, his writings “give no support to the new higher criticism.”

Spurgeon and Cyril Barber give high commendations to his writings.

Zahn, Theodore – Introduction to the New Testament  2nd ed. rev.  3 vols. in 1  (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917)  1,752 pp.  ToC

This is one of the major, older, conservative, advanced New Testament Introductions.  Zahn (1838–1933) was a German, Lutheran scholar.

“For a scholarly level, see the generally reliable works of Theodore Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament…” – Joel Beeke

Moffatt, James – An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament  1st ed.  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1911)  665 pp.  ToC

Moffatt was a liberal, yet the work has value.

“Since this manual is designed primarily for the use of students, most of whom need to be reminded that if the first commandment of research is, ‘Thou shalt work at the sources,’ the second is, ‘Thou shalt acquaint thyself with work done before thee and beside thee,’ I have agreed to notice, as far as the limits of my space and knowledge permit, the view of scholars who for various reasons are led to occupy positions which differ from those adopted in the following pages.” – Preface

“A time-worn volume containing a mine of important information on the history of interpretation.  Designed for the serious student of the NT.” – Cyril Barber



Guthrie, Donald – New Testament Introduction  4th ed. rev. one vol.  Buy  (1970; IVP Academic, 1990)  1,032 pp.  ToC

This is the standard, modern, mostly conservative, advanced, New Testament Introduction.

“For a scholarly level, see the generally reliable works of…  Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction…“ – Joel Beeke

“Formerly published in three volumes, but now issued in one.  Quite abreast of the latest developments in the field of NT studies, favors a more extreme view of the Synoptic Problem than is necessary, and provides detailed, up-to-date discussions on the many and varied historical problems.  Generally conservative.” – Cyril Barber

“Some prefer Thiessen’s handling of such matters as the Synoptic Problem [pt. 2, ch. 5] to the newer treatments by Guthrie and Harrison.” – Cyril Barber



Series on New Testament Special Introduction

Zondervan Critical Introductions to the New Testament


For the planned volumes in this series, see here.


Zondervan Critical Introductions to the New Testament

1-2 Thessalonians  Nijay K. Gupta & Michael F. Bird  2019



New Testament Background:  Modern Sources

See also ‘Historical Background’ on our page, The Inter-Testamental Period.



Edersheim, Alfred

‘The Preparation for the Gospel: the Jewish World in the Days of Christ’  being bk. 1, chs. 1-8 of The Life & Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. 1  (NY: Harrick, 1883), pp. 3-110

Edersheim was raised in Orthodox Judaism and became a Christian partially through the influence of ‘Rabbi’ John Duncan.  He entered the minister in the Free Church of Scotland.  Later he transferred into the Church of England and was a renowned scholar on 1st century studies.  The rest of the book gives much historical and cultural background on the Gospels as well.

Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ  (Religious Tract Society; 1876 / 1883)  360 pp.  ToC

“…this work is still one of the most important treatments of daily life in Palestine in the first century A.D.” – Cyril Barber

Alexander, Archibald – Part 6, section 9 to the end  in A History of the Israelitish Nation: From Their Origin to Their Dispersion at the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans  (Philadelphia: William S. Martien, 1853)  38 pp.

Alexander was the first professor of old Princeton Seminary.  This work is an expansion of his earlier work:  Annals of the Jewish Nation During the Period of the Second Temple  (1832)  chs. 31-37.

Schurer, Emil – A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, vol. 1 (Political History, 175 – 4 BC), 2 (4 BC – 135 AD), 3 (Culture, Constitution, Priesthood, Scribism), 4 (Pharisees & Sadducees, School & Synagogue, Life under thee Law, The Messianic Hope, Essenes, Dispersion & Proselytes), 5 (Palestinian Literature, Hellenistic Literature, Philo)  (1891)  ToC 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Index

“Still regarded as one of the most authoritative treatments of first-century Judaism.” – Cyril J. Barber



Abrahams, Israel – Studies in Pharisaism & the Gospels, First & Second Series  (1917 / 1924; Ktav Publishing House, 1967)  ToC 1, 2

This volume gives chapter studies on topics in the Gospels from Jewish writings, namely the Mishnah and Talmuds.  See the review of this volume, ‘Two books by a Jewish scholar’ in The Churchman, ‘Reviews of Books’, pp. 227-330.

Jeremias, Joachim – Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus  Buy  (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967)  420 pp.  ToC

“A valuable investigation into the economic and social conditions which prevailed during NT times.  Fully abreast of the latest archaeological data.” – Cyril Barber


Aramaic Background to the Gospels

Dalman, Gustaf – The Words of Jesus Considered in the Light of Post-Biblical Jewish Writings & the Aramaic Language  Buy  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1902)  374 pp.  ToC  Reprinted by Klock & Klock



New Testament Background: Ancient Sources

See also ‘Inter-Testamental Primary Sources’ on our page:
The Inter-Testamental Period




Wars of the Jews  265 pp.  Trans. William Whiston  Books 2-7 cover the N.T. period

Josephus (37-100), the 1st century Jewish historian gives his account of of Jewish history from the mid-2nd century B.C. till the destruction of the Second Temple in A.D. 70.

Reading his account is like reading the newspapers of his own day.  It sheds much light upon Matt 24, Jesus’ prophesy of the destruction of the temple, and numerous other historical aspects of the New Testament, especially biographical material about Herod the Great and background and contemporary events to the other Jewish and Roman rulers.

Books 17-20 of The Antiquities of the Jews  104 pp.  trans. William Whiston

Philo – The Works of Philo Judaeus, vol. 1234  trans. C.D. Yonge

Philo (25 BC – 50 AD) was an Alexandrian, Egyptian Jewish theologian who was a contemporary of Jesus, who largely represented the thought of Hellenistic Judaism, which had developed outside the land of Israel since the Dispersion.

ed. Vermes, Geza – The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English  Buy

See the Dead Sea Scrolls at Wikipedia for background info.

The helpfulness of the Dead Sea Scrolls to understanding the setting of the N.T. is very limited and is tangential, because the group that this literature derived from was essentially a fringe, monastic Jewish, prophetic, cult that remained deliberately secluded from the rest of Judaism and their distinctives were shared very little, if at all, with the rest of the Jewish people.

The closest group they had some superficial resemblance to was the Essenes, though they were very distinct from them as well.  John the Baptist’s character and mission emphatically was not that of the Essenes or the Dead Sea group, and was contrary to the distinctives of those groups.



Suetonius – Lives of the Twelve Caesars, & Lives of the Grammarians, Rhetoricians and Poets  570 pp. in Bohn’s Classical Library

Suetonius (AD 69-122) gives biographies of the 12 Roman Caesars, ranging roughly from 100 BC to 96 AD.



The Annals of Imperial Rome

Tacitus (56-120) gives the history from AD 14-68.

The Histories  550 pp.

The surviving portion of this work focuses upon the Jewish War during AD 68-69 and the destruction of the Jewish Temple, as Jesus predicted in Matt 24.



Background to the Epistles

Fairweather, William – The Background of the Epistles  Buy  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1935)  425 pp.  ToC  This was reprinted by Klock & Klock



Background & Introduction to the Pauline Epistles

See also, The Life, Letters & Theology of Paul



Gloag, Paton – Introduction to the Pauline Epistles  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1874)  485 pp.  ToC

***  “Not an exposition, but an exceedingly valuable introduction, illustrating the design, date, and circumstances of the inspired letters.” – Spurgeon

“Old, but full of valuable information.” – Cyril J. Barber

Stevens, George Barker – The Messages of Paul: Arranged in Historical Order, Analyzed & Freely Rendered in Paraphrase with Introductions  (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900)  290 pp.  ToC

Stevens was a professor at Yale University.

“An able evaluation of the setting, content, and structure of Paul’s discourses.”. – Cyril J. Barber



Ramsay, William

The Cities of St. Paul: their Influence on his Life & Thought  (Hodder & Stoughton, 1907)  500 pp.  ToC

“An indispensable work…  Focuses attention upon the cities of eastern Asia Minor, draws heavily upon the historical background, and traces their influence upon Paul’s life and thought.  Dated.” – Cyril Barber

The Historical Geography of Asia Minor  (Royal Geographical Soceity, 1890)  550 pp.  ToC

“An indispensable work by one of the greatest authorities on the history and geography of Asia Minor.” – Cyril Barber

Findlay, George – The Epistles of Paul the Apostle: a Sketch of their Origin & Contents  (n.d.)  305 pp.  ToC

“A brief introduction and outline of the Pauline epistles.” – Cyril J. Barber

Morton, Henry – In the Steps of St. Paul  (1936)  500 pp.  ToC

“A clear description of the writer’s journey through Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece, Rhodes, Malta, and Italy as he followed the footsteps of the apostle Paul from his birthplace in Tarsus to the scene of his martyrdom in Rome.” – Cyril Barber

Hiebert, David Edmond – An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles  Buy  (Moody, 1973)  375 pp.  ToC

Hiebert was Premillinnial.

“Among the best introductory studies available.  Thoroughly conservative, fully abreast of the latest advances in scholarship, and contains comprehensive outlines based upon an analysis of the Greek text.” – Cyril J. Barber



Background & Introduction to the General Epistles


Gloag, Paton – Introduction to the Catholic Epistles  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1887)  455 pp.  ToC

“A detailed introductory work which contains a series of informative essays on such topics as ‘the anointing of the sick’, ‘Pauline and Jacobean views of justification’, ‘Peter’s residence in Rome’, ‘Petrine theology’, and a very scholarly treatment of the ‘Relation Between II Peter and Jude’.” – Cyril J. Barber

Ebrard, John – Appendix on the Catholic Epistles  7 pp.  in Biblical Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, in Continuation of the Word of Olshausen  trans. W.B. Pope  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1860)

Ebrard discusses the historical question of what the label ‘catholic’ originally meant in relation to these epistles.  Olshausen was a liberal.  Ebrard, though not completely conservative, yet is helpful.



Hiebert, David – Introduction to the Non-Pauline Epistles & Revelation  Buy  (Moody, 1962)  250 pp.  ToC

Hiebert was Premillinnial.

“A lucid, accurate and reliable introduction to the background, and content of the General Epistles.” – Cyril J. Barber



Background & Introduction to the Letters of John

Gloag, Patton – Introduction to the Johannine Writings  (London: J. Nisbet, 1891)  465 pp.  ToC

“A scholarly introduction which may profitably be consulted even by those who have access to the more recent works by Guthrie and Harrison.” – Cyril J. Barber



New Testament Archaeology

See also Archaeology on the Whole Bible



F.F. Bruce – ‘Archaeological Confirmation of the New Testament’  13 pp.  in ed. Carl F.H. Henry, Revelation & the Bible. Contemporary Evangelical Thought  (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958 / London: The Tyndale Press, 1959), pp. 319-331



Unger, Merrill – Archaeology & the New Testament  rev. ed.  Buy  (Zondervan, 1962)  350 pp.  ToC

Unger was a professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary.

“A lucid, fascinating work which ably covers the whole range of NT archaeology.  Profusely illustrated.  Indispensable.” – Cyril Barber

Harrison, R.K. – Archaeology of the New Testament  Buy  (NY: Association Press, 1964)  175 pp.  ToC

“A generally conservative introduction.” – Cyril Barber

Parrot, Andre

Land of Christ: Archaeology, History, Geography  Buy  (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968)  175 pp.  ToC

“A French archaeologist and museum curator continues his popular monographs on Biblical sights and events.  A helpful contribution to the study of the Gospels in spite of some inaccuracies, including his dating of the Feast of Dedication and his loose usage of the term ‘synoptic’.” – Cyril Barber

Golgotha & the Church of the Holy Sepulchre  Buy  (London: SCM Press, 1957)  135 pp.  ToC

“Where was Christ crucified, and where was He buried?  The writer presents his evidence for the traditional Roman Catholic view.” – Cyril Barber



New Testament Coins

Akerman, John Yonge – Numismatic Illustrations of the Narrative Portions of the New Testament  (London: John Russell Smith, 1846)  62 pp.  no ToC




Related Pages

New Testament Theology

Bible Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction

Biblical Theology

Old Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction

Old Testament Theology