A Survey of the New Testament. 4th ed.

By Robert H. Gundry
Grand Rapids : Zondervan (2003). xviii + 542 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Keith Essex
15.1 (Spring 2004) : 120-121

Robert Gundry, professor emeritus of New Testament and Greek at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, has produced this 4th edition of his NT Survey [see TMSJ, 1995, 101-2 for a review of the 3d edition]. He describes the changes from the 1994 edition: “[T]he present, fourth edition includes then an updating of bibliographies, the upgrading of maps and pictures, and the pronunciation of important terms . . . as well as the already mentioned sidebars and other features” (xvi). In short, the author and publisher have sought to develop a volume that reflects the basic format of Encountering the New Testament by W. Elwell and R. Yarborough [see TMSJ, 1999, 291-93].

The essential text of the 3d edition is largely unchanged in this new edition. Gundry is not now as precise in his demographic statistics (26), has added material on literacy during the NT era (26-27), and has written a new section on honor and shame in the first century (36-37). Each chapter’s text now concludes with a newly written summary section that reviews the chapter’s discussion. The chapters now begin with a separate page devoted to an overview and restated study goals for the reader. Each chapter concludes with new boxes including people, places, and terms to remember, which are usually in bold print in the chapter text, new material probing how much the student has learned, and added questions for further discussion. New background material, quotations from biblical and extra-biblical sources, and interpretive discussions appear in colored sidebars around the basic text. The maps, charts, and pictures are in color and much sharper than in the previous editions. At the first occurrence of a term in the text and in a glossary at the end of the volume, the author has also included a new pronunciation guide based on The HarperCollins Bible Pronunciation Guide, edited by William O. Walker, Jr. (xvi). Such changes are all designed to enhance the learning experience for the beginning student of the NT (xv).

This 4th edition has the same strengths and weaknesses of the 3d edition. Gundry’s commitment to orthodox doctrine concerning the person and work of Jesus and his defense of a conservative understanding of authorship and dating of the NT documents are commendable. However, his advocacy of a measured use of source, form, and redaction criticism in Gospel study and his whole-hearted commitment to Markan priority mar his presentation, particularly for the beginning NT student. In comparing Gundry’s present volume with that of Elwell and Yarborough, one notes that Gundry has the more substantial discussion and is the stronger text of the two. However, the beginning NT student should also learn from the fine older NT surveys of Tenney and Gromacki to supplement Gundry’s discussions on the Gospels.