Reviewed by Martin Paterson
The Story Retold: A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament
By G. K. Beale and Benjamin Gladd
Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2020.
Why does the world need another NT introduction? With so many volumes that provide helpful explanation of the historical and theological context of the NT, this may seem unnecessary. However, The Story Retold by G. K. Beale and Benjamin Gladd does not fall into this category. In fact, it is a unique contribution as it provides something not addressed by other NT introductions that I can think of: it (1) roots the NT in the context of the OT, and (2) demonstrates how the NT uses the OT and how that should influence our reading of the whole of Scripture.
The book begins with two chapters handling the storyline of the Bible and the NT use of the OT. Both provide helpful guidance by laying out the necessary foundations for accessing the intricate tapestry of the Bible. A particularly good feature is the simple and accessible way the authors define and outline important terms in the study of the NT use of the OT, such as allusion, typology, quotation, and fulfilment.
The bulk of the book examines each of the books of the NT sequentially. (The exception is that 2 Peter and Jude are examined together.) In line with their intended outcome to serve the preaching and teaching of the church, Beale and Gladd comment on key biblical-theological themes found in each book. At the same time, they discuss the way the OT has been used in each context. Though these discussions are limited, they offer a great starting point for further reading into how a certain author, gospel, or section has engaged with the OT.
For example, in handling the final words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, the authors show the interconnectedness of the Great Commission (Matt 28:16–20) with Genesis 1:26–28; Daniel 7:13–14; and 2 Chronicles 36:23. Each of these passages is related to building the place where God will be glorified through the worship of his people. Drawing on the threads of 2 Chronicles 36:23, Beale and Gladd show the importance of typology, stating that “The great commission is proclaimed by the true, divine king Jesus to true Israel, the disciples” (68). Another good example of this is how Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:1–5:21, draws on Genesis 1 and Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 to discuss the dark to light transformation of the new age which has come in Christ. They note that “paradoxically, transforming into the image of the last Adam takes place through suffering. Just as Jesus’ own life is characterised by suffering climaxing in his physical resurrection, so it is the case with his people. What is true of God is true of his people” (238).
This introductory text contains a number of pictures and diagrams, some of which are more helpful than others. Since discussions surrounding date, authorship, purpose, and context are brief, a companion NT introductory volume would be helpful. However, as this was not the intended focal point of this volume, the lack is not a failing.
The Story Retold is an excellent book which will prove an important contribution to biblical studies for the next couple of decades. If you are involved in theological education, this is the sort of volume that would be a good introduction for students. Pastors, church planters, and Bible teachers would also benefit, as its great overviews of NT books will aid preparation of sermons and teaching series. It would be a great resource to have available at mission centres around the world to help sharpen and encourage our engagement with the NT use of the OT, and as such, our communication of the gospel. This is a significant work and I am grateful that both Beale and Gladd gave their time to the church to develop this resource.