Book Review — "The Story Retold"

The Story Retold: A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament

G.K. Beal and Benjamin L. Gladd

Having taught Bible classes for 15 years in a college, THIS is the book I wish I had early on. The approach in this textbook is to keep the entire story in mind. We can’t be enamored with the New Testament because it is “easier” to read. We need to understand the world of the story of Israel in our Old Testament.

The main goal of the textbook is to “couch every major passage within the broad history of redemption.” They have the obligatory “introductory” information expected in a text like this (Historical issues, authorship, etc.) but the main purpose is to have students be able to read the New Testament with the redemption story in mind.

Their premise is Genesis 1-3 forms the core of the story and contains the basic elements that will appear over and over again throughout Scripture.

  1. God creates the heavens and the earth to be his cosmic sanctuary, where he sovereignly rules and dwells.
  2. God creates Adam and Eve as kings to rule on his behalf and as priests to serve and mediate his glory.
  3. In an attempt to be independent of God, the original couple succumbs to the serpent’s temptation.

In spite of the fall, God promises to overcome evil and establish a perfect dwelling place for his glory and kingdom.

The grand storyline is this: creation, fall, and redemption. We cycle through this all throughout history. We anticipate the day when that cycle will end and humanity will enjoy God’s full presence in the new creation.

I am appreciative of their Old Testament overview and the way they draw heavily from John Walton. They set the Creation story in the context of God building a cosmic temple. (I wish I had been more familiar with Walton’s work much earlier in my teaching career.)

Much like the writing of N.T. Wright, the authors then work to set each New Testament book in a story framework. The goal is to point out where the major themes of the Old Testament keep showing up in each particular book.

What I had missed in my earlier teaching was the necessity of couching EACH New Testament book within the story of redemption. ALWAYS bring the Old Testament story forward!

I believe it was Walter Kaiser who took a lot of grief from students because he was so adamant about the Old Testament. They would tease him about reading more the Gospels, or at least preaching from the New Testament from time to time in chapel.

He would say, “Oh, I’ve read the New Testament. It reminds me so much of the Old Testament.”

This textbook is a valuable tool in the classroom to keep students focused on the overarching story of redemption.

I received this book for review from Intervarsity Press and am under no obligation to give a positive review.

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