If you are unfamiliar with D. A. Carson, allow me to introduce you. After earning a PhD from Cambridge, Carson went on to become a leading New Testament scholar and theologian who serves as a research scholar at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) and is a co-founder of The Gospel Coalition. He’s written over sixty books and his output is absolutely amazing, largely due to the generous sabbatical programs offered to him through TEDS.

Put simply, Carson is an amazing NT scholar. His service for the church will be appreciated for generations to come. I can’t even begin to explain how influential Carson has been in my own life and in the life of so many others that I know! And this past year, Carson turned 65!

In honor of his birthday celebration, Crossway released Understanding the Times: New Testament Studies in the 21st Century, edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger & Robert W. Yarbrough. This is a collection of essays from some of evangelicalism’s brightest contributors. In fact, essays are provided by Grant Osborne, Mark Dever, Douglas J. Moo, Peter T. O’Brien, Craig L. Blomberg, and more. As the editors write,

“This volume is but a small token of appreciation for D. A. Carson at the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday by some of his colleagues, former students, and friends. Our focus here – spanning only part of the vast area of Don’s interests – is the state of New Testament studies at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The volume is divided into three parts. The first deals with New Testament studies and ancillary disciplines – Greek linguistics and lexicography, hermeneutics and theological interpretation, the church, and evangelical identity… The second part is devoted to special topics in New Testament… The third part takes the reader on a tour of New Testament studies around the world: Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe…” (p. 10)

As you can see, this festschrift covers a wide range of topics under the umbrella of New Testament studies.

Writing a review for such a work can be difficult because each essay must be weighed individually, and I’m quite sure that there will be scholars who both review and interact with these essays. In fact, the quality of each essay will indeed guarantee that future interaction takes place.

That is to say that these essays are not “fluffy” essays that went from a “throw away” pile to being submitted to honor Carson. No, these essays are representative of some of the finest of evangelical scholarship. Carson has been honored here, truly.

What stands out? For me, Grant Osborne’s essay “Hermeneutics and Theological Interpretation” was probably the most interesting. The subject is one that is gaining a lot of attention these days and Osborne strikes a good balance between radical “biblicism” and “Tradition controlled dogmatics” (my terms). The divide between exegesis and application is certainly being bridged with each contribution by Osborne!

Other stand out essays are Köstenberger’s “Lifting Up the Son of Man and God’s Love for the World: John 3:16 in Its Historical, Literary, and Theological Contexts” and Moo’s “Justification in Galatians.” Both authors have written on those subjects before and these essays are further contributions in their specific fields. Moo’s interaction with the New Perspective will certainly be referenced in future dialogues between both those who advocate the NPP and those who take issue (and certainly by those who are inbetween!).

Understanding the Times is a must-own for students of New Testament studies.

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