David deSilva Ashland Theological Seminary professor wrote a book to show a different approach to reading and understanding the New Testament. Originally “An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods and Ministry Formation” started as a book for seminary students but the professor say pastors and Christian leaders could benefit from his book as well. "I noticed that almost every introduction had a particular strength, but I really needed several different textbooks to combine enough 'strengths' to enable the students to learn what I wanted them to get out of my class," said DeSilva, a professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland.
DeSilva, who enjoys studying the social, cultural, political and ideological worlds of the first century, placed the books of the New Testament in proper context by writing his own introductions.
"So I determined that, when I wrote my own introduction, I would attempt to combine these various foci into one textbook."
Taking what has worked from his experience in teaching and studying the New Testament, deSilva also “devoted a fair amount of space to explaining and modeling these skills in a textbook.”
"Exegetical methods account for a large part of my work as a professor and my students' work in all of our biblical studies classes," he said, adding that exegetical papers have become standard requirements in courses in New Testament introduction in seminaries across the world.
Not only did deSilva bridge the learning process for the students to easier understand the New Testament in his book, he also brought the theology and practical application together in his sections on ministry formation.
"The ministry formation sections came in response to two factors -- my own calling and my students' passion," he said. "I came into teaching in response to a call to ministry, and even more specifically as a result of hearing my fellow seminarians lament the gap between our core courses in theology and biblical studies and the work of ministry for which they were preparing.”
He credits his students for “always bringing the practical questions of how all the material I teach them intersects with and informs real situations in parish life, in counseling and in other areas of ministry."
Pastors and Christian leaders can also use the book a reliable resource for their work, according to deSilva.
"My own pastor always consults standard New Testament introductions and reads through at least one critical commentary in preparation for preaching," he said. "I hope that my introduction will become such a standard reference work for pastors and Christian educators as they prepare to teach and to supplement what they find in curricula.
"I think the attention given to ministry formation throughout this book may also help refresh and expand pastors' vision for the health, growth and vitality of their congregations, and provide strategies for bringing that vision to pass."
Additions the book, published in April 2004 by InterVarsity Press, include maps, photos, points of interest and aids to learning. There are also chapters that explore the nature of the Gospels and the quest for the historical Jesus, and the life of Paul.