Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Untold Story of the New Testament Church

This book can best be described in one word: context.

The author, Frank Viola, contends that the ordering of the New Testament books has caused confusion for many people. In particular, since Paul’s epistles are generally ordered by length instead of chronology, numerous Christians do not understand the historical context into which they fit.

Viola sets out to place the epistles into the context described in the book of Acts. The vast majority of The Untold Story of the New Testament Church walks the reader through the book of Acts, explaining when, where, and how each epistle fits in. When that point is reached, Viola encourages the one reading to set down this book and read the corresponding epistle.

Context is absolutely critical for correct biblical interpretation. We’ve all experienced others pulling verses willy-nilly out of context in order to make a point. Let’s admit it: we’ve all done it as well. Viola’s book combats that problem by forcing verses, chapters, and books back into their original contexts. For this we should be grateful.

I found this book to be extremely helpful. Seeing how each epistle fits into the overall Acts narrative gives a much fuller understanding as to why each letter was penned in the first place. I recommend this book to all Christians, especially those who struggle with understanding the NT. It would be a boon for new Christians.

The only negative is that the title is not spot-on. A better title would be “The Story of the New Testament Church in its Historical Context.” Of course, that title is not too exciting and would never make it past a publisher’s desk.

Regardless, this book is worth the read.


Eric H said...

Regarding your last comment...Frank has some other writing that I downloaded years ago, (I think from his transcript of a speech to pastors in a trip to Chile) that covers some of this chronological aspect, that was very helpful to me also as you have described. But I wouldn't have ever bought the 'untold story' book for that purpose because of the title (and I never have).

Eric said...

Eric H.,

Book titles are odd things. I think publishers have too much influence over them.