Best OT/NT Survey Texts?

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Puritan Board Freshman
Any thoughts on a good OT and NT surveys?

I did a search for this on the forum search but only came up with one short thread two years ago.

Here is what I have as candidates so far. Any of these stand out vs the others is there something else I should consider?

Introduction to the OT - E. J. Young
Survey of the OT Introduction - Gleason Archer
An Introduction to the OT - Longman, Dillard

The NT - J. Gresham Machen
A Survey of the NT - Robert Gundry
An Introduction to the New Testament - D.A. Carson


Puritanboard Commissioner
I read Gundry in the first edition when he was my prof, boss (his grader), and officiant at my wedding 34 years ago. He is brilliant, encyclopedic in his knowledge, but has gotten off the reservation quite far in recent years (e.g., Midrash view of Matthew leading to seeing the magi and star as unhistorical, the presence of the women in the Lord's genealogy as legendary, denial of imputation, etc.). I have not checked his latest 4th edition, but would caution you to be on guard for such ideas just in case they slip into his most recent revision.

Carson is GREAT on anything!!! So is Moo (co author) for that matter.

For that matter, Craig Blomberg's very different set (Jesus and the Gospels and From Pentecost to Patmos) offers "introduction, commentary, and application to help you grasp the historical, linguistic, and theological significance of each" book in the NT. The first volume is available on 50% off sale from Biblesoft this month.

Logos has a pre-pub of the Encountering the Bible Collection which includes the well-received Encountering the OT and Encountering the NT AND Moo's Encountering Romans. $69.95. The surveys are both the second editions.


Puritanboard Commissioner
There are two different genre of books that overlap here: introductions and surveys. Surveys are, by their very nature, overviews of the content of the biblical books. Introductions tend to deal more with the critical issues. Traditionally, the survey would sample the contents of the books and function like short commentaries whereas the introductions would deal with all of the higher critical theories swirling around the backgrounds. For example, a New Testament survey on 1 Corinthians would deal with the problems in the church and how Paul responded to them. It would unveil some of the outline structure (particularly the "men de" "now about") transitions. An introduction would deal more with critical theories of authorship and how the book relates to 2 Corinthians and the question of how many letters to them Paul penned.

Some of the older introductions and surveys were rather firm in their respect of boundaries. Blomberg's two volumes represent the new standard, taking into account biblical ignorance in America. He deals with the background issues in sufficient detail to orient the student tot he issues and to footnote enough of the going deeper asects of the topic while dealing more extensively with a survey of the biblical text itself.

What are the best books for you depends on what your particular needs might be.

Here is a good start (with some critical scholars thrown in for spice):

Archer, Jr., Gleason A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Revised edition. Moody, 1994. Archer is reliably conservative, detailed, and unafraid to fight with liberals.

Arnold, Bill T. and Bryan E. Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey. Baker, 1999. This one is broadly evangelical and designed as a survey to be used in undergrad courses. Therefore, it is graphically attractive, lots of side bars, boxes, pictures and the like. The CD it comes with has even more photos.

Baker, David W. and Bill T. Arnold eds., The Face of Old Testament Studies: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches. Baker, 1999. This one will take you into the world of academic Old Testament studies. It is written by evangelicals.

Childs, B.S. Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture. Fortress, 1979. A canonical approach to the text and books. His canonical criticism was famous at Yale. So, don't expect a fundy. But, he is always worth a critical read.

Dillard, Raymond and Tremper Longman III. An Introduction to the Old Testament. Zondervan, 1994. This one is probably your best bet for a readable and up-to-date volume. After Dillard's death, Longman (then at Westminster, now the Robert H. Gundry professor at Westmont) completed it.

Eissfeldt, O. The Old Testament: An Introduction. trans. P.R. Ackroyd. Harper and Row, 1965. Old, dusty liberalism with more expertise than help for the evangelical pastor.

Harrison, R. K. An Old Testament Introduction. Eerdmans, 1979. A bit dated after all of these years, it was the evangelical alternative to Eissfeldt.

LaSor, W.S., D.A. Hubbard, and F.W. Bush. Old Testament Survey. Eerdmans, 1982. Second edition, 1996. An OK introduction by those who are relatively evangelical in perspective. They all taught at Fuller during my time there and I found them all a little too fond of critical theories. Broadly evangelical seminary profs seem to really like this book for some reason.

Soggin, J. Alberto. Introduction to the Old Testament. OTL. Westminster, 1989. What mainline denominational students read to update Eissfeldt.

Achtemeier, P. J., J. B. Green, and M. M. Thompson. Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology. G.R.: Eerdmans, 2001. Written by evangelical "friendly" authors who are more than a little critical in their approach. I love Thompson's father and brother (good friends of mine), but have less affection for my former fellow seminary student's mainline views. She was the best preacher in my graduating class of 600 or something like that.

Blomberg, Craig. Jesus and the Gospels. Broadman and Holman, 1997. Jesus and the Gospels is designed to give you an overview of the historical context of the Gospels while shedding light on the confusing interpretations brought forth over the last two centuries. From Patmos to Pentecost. Broadman and Holman, 2006. The second volume in his series which grew out of his seminary lectures and notes for his students.

Brown, R. E. An Introduction to the New Testament. N.Y.: Doubleday, 1997. This Roman Catholic author is always worth reading even when you disagree with him.

Carson, D. A. and D. J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. G.R.: Zondervan, 2005.2 This one would be my choice if you only purchased one NT intro/survey.

deSilva, D. A. An Introduction to the New Testament: Context, Methods and Ministry Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004. deSilva has been well regarded and well received. I have not used it myself, however.

Elwell, W. A. and Yarbrough, R. W. Encountering the New Testament and Readings from the First-Century World [with CD-ROM]. G.R.: Baker, 2005.2. Designed as an undergraduate text, it is full of the same whistles and bells as the OT one. Lots of pix, sidebars, boxes, maps, graphs, etc.

Gundry, R. A Survey of the New Testament. G.R.: Zondervan, 2003.4. When I was at Westmont, we called him "Bible Bob" behind his back for his reliably conservative views. As undergrads, we had to almost memorize this text to do well on his tests. Unfortunately, he later was more of a "Redaction Robbie" with his notions of non-historical aspects to Matthew and denial of imputation.

Guthrie, D. New Testament Introduction. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990.4. Guthrie is always good. This one is long and very thorough.

Wenham, D. and S. Walton. Exploring the New Testament, vol. 1: A Guide to the Gospels & Acts. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001; Marshall, I. H., Travis, S. and Paul, I., vol. 2: A Guide to the Epistles and Revelation (2002). Marshall is a strong Arminian. His scholarship is well regarded, however, by academics.
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Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you Mr. McFadden, I found your summary to be most helpful. I'm sure others will as well. It will make a nice reference post for others looking for this type of book down the road. I think I will start with the set of ...
  • Dillard, Raymond and Tremper Longman III. An Introduction to the Old Testament. Zondervan, 1994.
  • Carson, D. A. and D. J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. G.R.: Zondervan, 2005.2

And go from there. I have a lot of required readings for my classes as well so one set will be great for now. I did in fact preorder the "encountering the Bible" 3 volume set from Logos. So I'll have that to look at as well down the road.



They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
The Machen book is not so much an introduction as a survey. It is very well worth reading, however.


Puritan Board Senior
I liked Harrison's OT Introduction and Guthrie's NT Introduction. I have also used Machen NT and Tenny's NT Survey was also quite good.
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