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The words, phrases, and stories of the New Testament permeate the English language. Indeed, this relatively small group of twenty-seven works, written during the height of the Roman Empire, not only helped create and sustain a vast world religion, but also have been integral to the larger cultural dynamics of the West, above and beyond particular religious expressions. Loo The words, phrases, and stories of the New Testament permeate the English language. Indeed, this relatively small group of twenty-seven works, written during the height of the Roman Empire, not only helped create and sustain a vast world religion, but also have been integral to the larger cultural dynamics of the West, above and beyond particular religious expressions. Looking at the New Testament through the lens of literary study, Kyle Keefer offers an engrossing exploration of this revered religious text as a work of literature, but also keeps in focus its theological ramifications. Unique among books that examine the Bible as literature, this brilliantly compact introduction offers an intriguing double-edged look at this universal text—a religiously informed literary analysis. The book first explores the major sections of the New Testament—the gospels, Paul's letters, and Revelation—as individual literary documents. Keefer shows how, in such familiar stories as the parable of the Good Samaritan, a literary analysis can uncover an unexpected complexity to what seems a simple, straightforward tale. At the conclusion of the book, Keefer steps back and asks questions about the New Testament as a whole. He reveals that whether read as a single document or as a collection of works, the New Testament presents readers with a wide variety of forms and viewpoints, and a literary exploration helps bring this richness to light. A fascinating investigation of the New Testament as a classic literary work, this Very Short Introduction uses a literary framework—plot, character, narrative arc, genre—to illuminate the language, structure, and the crafting of this venerable text.


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The words, phrases, and stories of the New Testament permeate the English language. Indeed, this relatively small group of twenty-seven works, written during the height of the Roman Empire, not only helped create and sustain a vast world religion, but also have been integral to the larger cultural dynamics of the West, above and beyond particular religious expressions. Loo The words, phrases, and stories of the New Testament permeate the English language. Indeed, this relatively small group of twenty-seven works, written during the height of the Roman Empire, not only helped create and sustain a vast world religion, but also have been integral to the larger cultural dynamics of the West, above and beyond particular religious expressions. Looking at the New Testament through the lens of literary study, Kyle Keefer offers an engrossing exploration of this revered religious text as a work of literature, but also keeps in focus its theological ramifications. Unique among books that examine the Bible as literature, this brilliantly compact introduction offers an intriguing double-edged look at this universal text—a religiously informed literary analysis. The book first explores the major sections of the New Testament—the gospels, Paul's letters, and Revelation—as individual literary documents. Keefer shows how, in such familiar stories as the parable of the Good Samaritan, a literary analysis can uncover an unexpected complexity to what seems a simple, straightforward tale. At the conclusion of the book, Keefer steps back and asks questions about the New Testament as a whole. He reveals that whether read as a single document or as a collection of works, the New Testament presents readers with a wide variety of forms and viewpoints, and a literary exploration helps bring this richness to light. A fascinating investigation of the New Testament as a classic literary work, this Very Short Introduction uses a literary framework—plot, character, narrative arc, genre—to illuminate the language, structure, and the crafting of this venerable text.

30 review for The New Testament as Literature: A Very Short Introduction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The New Testament as Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #168), Kyle Keefer The words, phrases, and stories of the New Testament permeate the English language. Indeed, this relatively small group of twenty-seven works, written during the height of the Roman Empire, not only helped create and sustain a vast world religion, but also have been integral to the larger cultural dynamics of the West, above and beyond particular religious expressions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    Narrated by Jonathon Walker. 4* Sexuality 4* The New Testament as Literature 3* Paul 4* Racism 3* Ancient Egypt 4* Witchcraft 3* The Book of Mormon 4* Druids 4* Forensic Psychology 3* Forensic Science Points: 1. Paul. How can he be good to the cause. 2. Revelation as the first fantasy novel 3. "I only know two kinds of people, those who believe in good and evil, and those that don't" BWHAHAHAHAH Narrated by Jonathon Walker. 4* Sexuality 4* The New Testament as Literature 3* Paul 4* Racism 3* Ancient Egypt 4* Witchcraft 3* The Book of Mormon 4* Druids 4* Forensic Psychology 3* Forensic Science Points: 1. Paul. How can he be good to the cause. 2. Revelation as the first fantasy novel 3. "I only know two kinds of people, those who believe in good and evil, and those that don't" BWHAHAHAHAH

  3. 4 out of 5

    Felix

    This was a quick read. Even within the 'A Very Short Introduction' series, this volume is very brief. It discusses all of the books of the New Testament, giving short overviews of their literary (and of course, to some limited degree, theological) qualities. It's well-written, with a terse and to the point style. It is, however, rather basic in its analysis. I suppose this is to be expected from the title, but I have previously read one other book from the series (Mary Beard's Classics: A Very S This was a quick read. Even within the 'A Very Short Introduction' series, this volume is very brief. It discusses all of the books of the New Testament, giving short overviews of their literary (and of course, to some limited degree, theological) qualities. It's well-written, with a terse and to the point style. It is, however, rather basic in its analysis. I suppose this is to be expected from the title, but I have previously read one other book from the series (Mary Beard's Classics: A Very Short Introduction) and that one took a very different approach. Beard's text was more thematic, giving a feeling of the beating heart of the subject, whereas Keefer's is more traditional. I feel like this book puts priming the reader for other introductory texts as its formermost purpose, as opposed to presenting the reader with the intellectual approaches and challenges of the discipline (as in Beard's case). Regardless, whether you like this book or not will depend on what you want to get out of it. If it is a stepping stone into further study of the subject area, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. If your purpose is to develop a quick understanding of the subject itself (and then move on to another subject), perhaps consider picking up something else.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Omid Milanifard

    انجیلهای چهارگانه و چند رساله دیگر که در مجموع کتاب مقدس را میسازند با هم تناقضات جدی به خصوص در تصویرسازی از مسیح دارند. با اینحال در این کتاب از دید ادبی و نه تفسیری به موضوع نگاه شده و این تناقضات به شخصیت سازی چند بعدی مرتبط شده اند. در مجموع به نظر من کتاب جالبی بود که اطلاعات خوبی هم داشت.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Edie

    For me, the A Very Short Introduction series has been hit or miss. I am enthusiastic about the idea of the series. I have listened to Coogan's OT intro several times. It is fantastic. This one is okay but not quite as good. It isn't that there is anything particularly wrong with Keefer's intro, but this is a topic which has been written on extensively and there are better introductions out there. So, if you are only going to read one book about the NT, this should not be that book. But if you ar For me, the A Very Short Introduction series has been hit or miss. I am enthusiastic about the idea of the series. I have listened to Coogan's OT intro several times. It is fantastic. This one is okay but not quite as good. It isn't that there is anything particularly wrong with Keefer's intro, but this is a topic which has been written on extensively and there are better introductions out there. So, if you are only going to read one book about the NT, this should not be that book. But if you are going to read many, this is a quick and interesting enough overview - it is always nice to read a variety perspectives.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This week ABC Online is featuring an article titled What history really tells us about Jesus’ birth, pointing out that the inn, the shepherds and animals; pretty much everything we think we know about the Christmas Story is historically wrong. So, yes, Christmas is as good a time as any to take a closer look at the New Testament, not for religious reasons, but for the importance it has in Western literature. So in between doing festive season stuff around the house, I’ve been taking short breaks This week ABC Online is featuring an article titled What history really tells us about Jesus’ birth, pointing out that the inn, the shepherds and animals; pretty much everything we think we know about the Christmas Story is historically wrong. So, yes, Christmas is as good a time as any to take a closer look at the New Testament, not for religious reasons, but for the importance it has in Western literature. So in between doing festive season stuff around the house, I’ve been taking short breaks to read The New Testament as Literature, a Very Short Introduction, by Kyle Keefer. As Keefer says in this interesting VSI, scholarly interpretations of The New Testament have been around for centuries, and the book has been read by more groups and individuals than any other book ever written. It is not only read for religious reasons by Christians, but also for cross-cultural interfaith understanding, as well as by people of no religion who want to discredit it. But for many, it’s the NT’s place in literature that matters, whether that’s in books with explicitly Christian themes like Paradise Lost or The Pilgrim’s Progress, or books like Ulysses of Absalom, Absalom! that allude to biblical language and themes undogmatically. Keefer, who is Assistant Professor of Religion in the Bible Belt of the USA, is interested in the intersection of the Bible and the arts, and so am I. Although I don’t have a religious bone in my body I love looking at early religious art, illuminated manuscripts, Russian icons, and stained glass windows. Church architecture is sublime, and the music written for religious purposes by the great composers, is, I think, among the most beautiful that there is. And although I strongly disapprove of monarchies of all kinds, I am inclined to be more tolerant of the dead ones in Europe because, even though they did it for their own aggrandisement, they commissioned such beautiful art works – which (in mature democracies that have abolished the monarchy) are now accessible to the public. But it is the influence of the Bible in literature that interests me most... To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2017/12/28/t...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stefan Gugler

    That was a well above average Very Short Introduction, well done Kyle Keefer! I think the scope was concisely chosen (some convenience arises, because the title is already a much more limited scope than say 'Postmodernism', but well) such that Keefer could easily introduce the concept of what the literature interpretation of the NT entails, walk through the big 3-4 swaths of the NT, and finally offer some larger context. Especially this last part felt very astute (even though it might just be a That was a well above average Very Short Introduction, well done Kyle Keefer! I think the scope was concisely chosen (some convenience arises, because the title is already a much more limited scope than say 'Postmodernism', but well) such that Keefer could easily introduce the concept of what the literature interpretation of the NT entails, walk through the big 3-4 swaths of the NT, and finally offer some larger context. Especially this last part felt very astute (even though it might just be a normal observation among Religion Studies researchers): how to interpret a canon of texts where it is a priori unclear how they actually belong together apart from the decision of some people 1700 years ago. Most interestingly, just by grouping these texts together (especially in the letters part, or the synoptic gospels vs. John's) a certain cohesion grew out of the myriads of exegeses over the centuries. If you have some interest in the Bible as a primary historic or literary project (rather than a religious source), this VSI is a nice summary, full of reminders of cool stories in the Bible, setting them in context of literature from all around history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Walker

    I can't imagine fundamentalists would enjoy this book because it lays to one side or 'brackets' the truth claims of the Bible, but I found it exciting and liberating. By thinking about the various texts that make up the New Testament in terms of their rhetoric, imagery, characterisation of persons and events, implicit presuppositions (as well as explicit arguments), and intended audiences, it opens up entirely new perspectives for someone (like me) who grew up thinking of these texts in purely d I can't imagine fundamentalists would enjoy this book because it lays to one side or 'brackets' the truth claims of the Bible, but I found it exciting and liberating. By thinking about the various texts that make up the New Testament in terms of their rhetoric, imagery, characterisation of persons and events, implicit presuppositions (as well as explicit arguments), and intended audiences, it opens up entirely new perspectives for someone (like me) who grew up thinking of these texts in purely didactic or historical terms. In other words, this book considers the New Testament texts as created by human authors, using fictive (meaning constructed purposefully, not dishonest) techniques.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Wing

    This small booklet starts by briefly describing what literary study entails. Literature functions as "equipment for living" (Kenneth Burke). It then uses narrative criticism to dissect the Synoptic gospels; rhetorical critism to discuss the Pauline Corpus and the Gospel of John; form critism to demystify the Book of Revelation; and finally canonical critism to defend plurality within singularity. Putting theological dogmas aside and relinquishing the fantasy of recovering the "historial Jesus", This small booklet starts by briefly describing what literary study entails. Literature functions as "equipment for living" (Kenneth Burke). It then uses narrative criticism to dissect the Synoptic gospels; rhetorical critism to discuss the Pauline Corpus and the Gospel of John; form critism to demystify the Book of Revelation; and finally canonical critism to defend plurality within singularity. Putting theological dogmas aside and relinquishing the fantasy of recovering the "historial Jesus", one can find exploring the protean and multifaceted intepretative portrayals of Jesus both fascinating and illuminating. Four stars.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Wright

    Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: The New Testament and the literary canon Chapter 3: The gospels Chapter 4: Paul and his letters Chapter 5: Revelation Chapter 6: The New Testament, bound

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zach Busick

    Pretty useful little book

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bojan Tunguz

    My first encounter with the Bible came in my early teens. I always enjoyed reading, and more I read of the authors of broadly European provenance, more I came across allusions and references to the Bible. I became curious about this book that was overarching much of the Western art for the better part of the last two millennia. So my first encounter with the Bible, and the New Testament in particular, was driven by primarily literary and historical concerns. Since then I had become a Christian, My first encounter with the Bible came in my early teens. I always enjoyed reading, and more I read of the authors of broadly European provenance, more I came across allusions and references to the Bible. I became curious about this book that was overarching much of the Western art for the better part of the last two millennia. So my first encounter with the Bible, and the New Testament in particular, was driven by primarily literary and historical concerns. Since then I had become a Christian, and those concerns have somewhat faded into the background. In the light of that, coming across and reading "The New Testament as Literature: A Very Short Introduction" was a trip back in time. The book gave me an opportunity to look at the very familiar material from a newfound angle. By paying attention to the genre and the literary devices that the authors employed, I was able to read the New Testament stories with a deepened sense of their richness. What particularly appealed to me as a believer was the fact that the literary reading did not come at the expense of theological understanding of the texts, but was in fact complementing it and enriching it. This is far from being the predominant attitude by many of the today's critiques of the New Testament. In the age when "deconstructing" texts in terms of the purported ulterior motives of the authors, it is refreshing to come across a book where the author is content to let the text speak for itself. The book is also a very useful introduction to the New Testament for anyone who wants to know more about it but is weary of having to be subjected to heavy-handed religious proselytizing. Even thought the book is not opposed to the theological points of view, and uses them for fuller understanding of New Testament, it is also not imposing theology on its readers. If you are just curious and would like to know more about what one of the most read books of all time is all about, this is as good of an introduction as it gets. The book divides the material thematically and stylistically into Gospels, St. Paul's letters, the Revelations, other letters, and the Letter to the Hebrews. It pays attention to the peculiarities of each one of those general genres, and takes a closer look at some familiar and not too familiar passages. It also helps the reader understand how all those 27 books that comprise the New Testament canon fit together, and how to read them jointly as a part of a whole. This is important because precisely as a part of a unifying whole they have been read for the most of the history. Overall, this is an excellent book, clearly written and accessible. It would be very useful and informative, whether you've read the New Testament a hundred times or are completely new to it. I strongly recommend it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I enjoyed it a lot. For its short length there are many ideas. I have a good deal of familiarity with the Bible, being raised as a Christian, and through my own general reading of the Bible itself, and general reading. I was aware of the difference between the Gospels and Paul's letters, and how John's gospel is different from the other three. I also had a good familiarity with Revelations. However, this book gave me a good deal of additional high level insight, for example, the idea that the fi I enjoyed it a lot. For its short length there are many ideas. I have a good deal of familiarity with the Bible, being raised as a Christian, and through my own general reading of the Bible itself, and general reading. I was aware of the difference between the Gospels and Paul's letters, and how John's gospel is different from the other three. I also had a good familiarity with Revelations. However, this book gave me a good deal of additional high level insight, for example, the idea that the first three gospels are called the "Synoptic" (meaning, 'seen as one') and that they were likely all copied and adapted from Mark's gospel, which is the oldest. I also appreciated the idea of Revelations being the "first fantasy novel" and that it's purpose was literally to "scare the hell out of you." I myself have a troubled relationship with Revelations and find it, in the end, to be an offensive and immature sort of book. However you cannot deny that it is fascinating. These are just two of the many ideas contained in the book, which is itty-bitty, at just 114 small pages, it's well worth the 2 hours it takes to read, and provides lots to think about.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    This was my first read of the Short Introduction series and I was impressed. I bought this after flicking through the first few pages in a book store and getting immediately hooked. This is a refreshing change of perspective on the New Testament and helped me appreciate The Bible in a whole different way. This has a wide audience appeal whether Christian or Atheist - a rarity in discussions of religious text. Rather than exploring the New Testament through emotive implications this book neutrall This was my first read of the Short Introduction series and I was impressed. I bought this after flicking through the first few pages in a book store and getting immediately hooked. This is a refreshing change of perspective on the New Testament and helped me appreciate The Bible in a whole different way. This has a wide audience appeal whether Christian or Atheist - a rarity in discussions of religious text. Rather than exploring the New Testament through emotive implications this book neutrally explores the story telling itself, the author's literary style and narrative. This is a quick and easy, thought provoking read. Highly recommended to anyone interested in literature studies, ancient history or the Bible.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Landry

    Very interesting, enlightening, and insightful discussion of the New Testament as a work of literature. Keefer does a great job of examining the text and of explaining both what it seems to tell us about the intent as well as how it's been interpreted over the years. A very quick read and highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing more about the Bible in a scholarly context. Very interesting, enlightening, and insightful discussion of the New Testament as a work of literature. Keefer does a great job of examining the text and of explaining both what it seems to tell us about the intent as well as how it's been interpreted over the years. A very quick read and highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing more about the Bible in a scholarly context.

  16. 4 out of 5

    jzthompson

    The stated purpose of the book - applying methods from literary studies to the New Testament - doesn't always come through but this is a good basic primer on the books of the New Testament for an ignorant heathen like me; I'm not sure how useful someone with a better grounding in biblical studies would find it. The stated purpose of the book - applying methods from literary studies to the New Testament - doesn't always come through but this is a good basic primer on the books of the New Testament for an ignorant heathen like me; I'm not sure how useful someone with a better grounding in biblical studies would find it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anwen Hayward

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kent

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Marincic Hiestermann

  20. 5 out of 5

    Seema Singh

  21. 5 out of 5

    Em

  22. 5 out of 5

    Giovanny M Nunez MD

  23. 5 out of 5

    Athanos Lee

  24. 5 out of 5

    Darren Fall

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

  26. 5 out of 5

    James

  27. 5 out of 5

    Annie McMeeking

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matthijs Krul

  29. 5 out of 5

    TheSqaull17

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hunter

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