A Companion to the New Testament draws readers deep inside the New Testament by providing a basic orientation to its literary contours and its ways of talking about theological matters. Designed especially for students learning to navigate the Bible as Christian Scripture, the Companion serves as an accessible, reliable, and engaging guide to each New Testament book’s contents. It explores these books’ capacity for informing Christian faith and life—among ancient audiences and also within Christian communities through time.
Individual chapters offer thorough overviews of each New Testament book, helping readers consider its historical setting, cultural assumptions, literary dynamics, and theological points of view. The Companion consistently illustrates how social conditions and community identities left their marks on the particular theological rhetoric of the New Testament. Author Matthew Skinner draws on his extensive teaching experience to orient readers to theological convictions and social realities reflected in Scripture. He pays special attention to the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament, the Roman Empire’s influence on Christian ideas and practices, the place of women in the early church’s life and teachings, the influence of Jewish apocalyptic themes on the New Testament, and ways that certain New Testament emphases have shaped basic Christian beliefs.
This first volume of the Companion explains that the Gospels are the results of the early churches’ efforts to preserve memories about the life and teaching of Jesus, his character, and his enduring significance. Readers discover that Jesus’ followers told their stories about him because of their desire to give testimony to him as the Christ and the agent of divine salvation. Likewise, the Companion’s treatment of Acts underscores that book’s understanding of God as active in the world, a God who continues the ministry Jesus began but does so now in and around the churches formed by Jesus’ followers. The earliest churches’ narratives about their Lord and their origins were theological narratives—stories meant to communicate believers’ convictions about God and God’s commitment to the world.