Over the last 2 weeks I have been reading books on the history of NT research and interpretation. I read:

Baird – History of New Testament Research (2 vols)

Kümmel – The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Problems

Epp & MacRae – The New Testament and Its Modern Interpreters

These three works are a bit different, though they address similar ends. Baird’s book is the most descriptive, but only addresses scholarship up to the second World War. Kümmel addresses a broader scope of material, but not as deeply. Finally, Epp addresses works between WWII and the 1980s.

Reading Baird or Kümmel will give one a good sense of the flow of NT scholarship. Kümmel does a better job of sticking with chronological ordering, although Baird is helpful in that he follows the ideological developments across time periods. Either of these works will take the reader form the Apostolic Fathers through the Reformation and Enlightenment to Pietism and then source and form criticism, and arrive at the History of Religions method. After that the reader will face descriptions of literary methods which are harder to describe. Meanwhile Epp’s work addresses topics of study (such as questions related to Luke-Acts) while providing a wealth of bibliography and a description of the major issues, scholars and their works – so that one will not neglect an important work while they are writing.

I would say that an Junior-Senior in undergraduate work might benefit from reading Kümmel (though all level of advanced students and scholars will enjoy it too). Baird is for the more advanced student, as is Epp. Epp’s work includes some articles which are more appropriate as reference works (like annotated bibliographies).

Kummel Review

Baird Review

Epp Review

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