After many happy hours perusing possible textbooks for my spring course on the Gospels/Acts at Multnomah, I have selected my favorites.
The New Testament in Antiquity to be especially helpful. A trio of esteemed Wheaton professors - Gary Burge, Lynn Cohick, and Gene Green - pooled their expertise to produce a beautiful volume filled with crisp photographs, clear maps, helpful diagrams, and the latest in New Testament research, written for the non-specialist. Although the other volumes I considered would have worked, this seemed to be a book students could continue to use for years to come as they study the rest of the New Testament. It includes the right amount of information, written at the right level for college students.
It's a special bonus to know each of the authors and to have grown personally from interactions with each of them, but what was even more important to me was the testimony of a recent MA graduate from Wheaton who said this was her favorite book from grad school. The New Testament in Antiquity is the next best thing to taking students on a tour of the holy land. Having just been there myself in May, it was easy to tell that the photos in this book (as compared to others I saw) were the most up-to-date.
Multnomah's new president, Dr. Craig Williford, is to cultivate a diverse learning community. This not only includes variety in the types of students who populate our classes, but also variety in the authors and perspectives to which students are exposed during their studies. For this reason, I'm delighted to introduce students to Kenneth Bailey's Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels.
Bailey lived and taught in the middle east for 40 years, and his book helps readers take off their western lenses so they can read the text from a cultural perspective much closer to the ancient New Testament world. More than anything else, Bailey helps us consider new ways of reading and understanding the Bible. His book is endorsed by an impressive cadre of New Testament scholars, including Lynn Cohick and Gary Burge (above), Craig Keener, and Craig Evans.
Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible provides all of these and more.
Here's my personal favorite, shared with permission from Zondervan:
I'm grateful to Zondervan and IVP for free exam copies of these books and others as well, and to Zondervan for providing free access to digital photos and maps for use in teaching. While I was not required to write a review of these books, I felt compelled to share these great resources with you.