Baker, 2008. (Available in Australia at Koorong Books)
This is certainly the newest and perhaps most comprehensive New Testament theology to come from the conservative/Evangelical camp. Other recent volumes include those by Achtemeier, Green and Thompson, (Introducing the New Testament, 2001); Marshall (New Testament Theology, 2004); and Thielman (Theology of the New Testament, 2005).
Older but still helpful volumes include those by Ladd (1974); Hasel (1978); Guthrie (1981); Morris (1986); and Caird and Hurst (1994). Of all these volumes, Schreiner’s is certainly the most extensive, reaching nearly 1,000 pages.
Most NT theologies approach the task in a book by book examination. Some take a more topical/thematic approach. Schreiner combines the best of both worlds. He looks at major NT themes, such as God, the Kingdom, Christology, sin, salvation, eschatology, and so on, but does so by focusing on main author clusters, such as the Synoptics, or Luke-Acts, or Paul, or John, etc.
Thus all the main themes of the NT are capably dealt with, but the canonical structure to the NT is not lost. As to the centre of NT theology, Schreiner states his view in the opening lines: “NT theology is God-focused, Christ-centered, and Spirit-saturated, but the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit must be understood along a salvation-historical timeline; that is, God’s promises are already fulfilled but not yet consummated in Christ Jesus.” Indeed, the subtitle of this book is Magnifying God in Christ.
Schreiner is of course a leading NT scholar, and relatively youngish (54). He lectures at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has penned a number of helpful volumes in the past, including an important volume on Pauline theology (2001), a major commentary on Romans (BECNT, 1998), and various volumes on issues in Pauline thinking.
Indeed, like Frank Thielman, he has written much on the place of the law in Pauline thought. His The Law and its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law (1993) is an important contribution to this debate, as is Thielman’s 1994 volume, Paul and the Law.
Thus his understanding of the place of the law in the whole of the NT is quite helpful, and his discussion on this vital topic – like that of other topics in this volume – is informed both by the latest scholarship, as well as pastoral concerns. Indeed, his examination of NT ethics is also very useful, dealing with how the NT writers inform us of how God’s people are to live in God’s world.
Theologically, Schreiner is conservative and moderately Reformed. But he is judicious in handling varying points of view, and does a good job of allowing the NT writers themselves to determine the flow of theology in this volume.
That he is not a hard-core Calvinist is evident in various ways, including his treatment of the warning passages in Hebrews. For example, he takes it that those being warned about falling away are in fact actual believers, and that they can indeed turn away from their salvation.
His conservatism is seen in various places, for example, in his treatment of women in the church and in the home. He takes the complementarian (or traditional) position here, as opposed to the egalitarian (or liberationist) view. Of course such controversial issues will result in differing opinions, but as mentioned, Schreiner is fair to his debating partners in these various discussions.
Altogether, this is really an outstanding volume, covering all the bases, and providing both theological detail as well as the big-picture framework. It is a solid work by a solid NT scholar, and well worth a careful read. Pastors, students and scholars alike will benefit greatly from this tremendous work.