New Testament Resources for Latter-day Saints

Whether you're a Gospel Doctrine teacher preparing to teach the New Testament for the first time, or a Gospel Doctrine student anxious to drink deep this coming year, you could probably use a good book (or two) to supplement your study. A reliable commentary can enrich your understanding of the language, culture, and lands of the New Testament, provide significant doctrinal insights, and expand your appreciation for the life and mission of Christ and his apostles.

But where can you find a dependable commentary? Fortunately, there are dozens of fantastic books on the New Testament suited for LDS readers. From recent titles to perennial favorites, here is a review of some of the best New Testament books for Latter-day Saints. If you have other suggestions, please post them to the message board for this article.

General and Reference

Recent Titles: Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee: Daily Reflections on the New Testament by Robert L. Millet and Lloyd D. Newell is a collection of daily meditations on the teachings of the New Testament. A verse of scripture is presented for each day of the year along with an insight from one of the authors of this pocket-sized volume. FARMS has followed up its fantastic Charting the Book of Mormon volume with Charting the New Testament: Visual Aids for Personal Study by John W. Welch and John F. Hall. Although the title suggests personal study use, this unique collection of charts, graphs, maps, and lists is ideal for teachers looking for visual aids. This is really a must-have for any Gospel Doctrine instructor.

Perennial Favorites: The three substantial volumes of Doctrinal New Testament Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie represent the most complete verse-by-verse commentary on the entire New Testament. Elder McConkie quotes extensively from other sources, especially Talmage, Joseph Smith, and his own Mormon Doctrine.

Best of the Rest: Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible by Kent P. Jackson: A valuable collection of statements by Joseph Smith on New Testament passages. How We Got the Bible by Lenet Hadley Read: How, when, and by whom the Bible was written, preserved, transmitted, and translated. Smith's Bible Dictionary: Long a trusted Bible reference work.

The World of the New Testament

Recent Titles: The best new book on the world of the New Testament is not primarily about the New Testament. Between the Testaments: From Malachi to Matthew, by S. Kent Brown and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel attempts to bridge the social, religious, and political gap between the Old and New Testaments, but in so doing admirably sets the stage for a meaningful study of the world in Jesus' day. In addition to covering inter-testamental history, this book provides background on the origin of the Pharisees and Sadducees, an overview of the expectations of a Messiah in post-exilic Judaism, and an explanation of the make-up of Jewish scripture in Christ's day. Between the Testaments is invaluable in helping the reader understand the milieu in which Jesus carried out his ministry.

Another recent offering, The Way, the Truth, and the Life: Images of the New Testament, gives readers a glimpse of the Holy Land through the eyes of photographers Floyd Holdman and Don Thorpe. Author S. Michael Wilcox offers a variety of inspirational insights to complement the stunning photography.

Perennial Favorites: For over a century the works of Alfred Edersheim, nineteenth century Jewish convert to Christianity, have captivated LDS authors and readers. Edersheim's books Sketches of Jewish Social Life and The Temple at the Time of Christ provide important insights into daily and religious life in Jesus' Palestine. The latter is a fascinating demonstration of the typological importance of Jewish temple ordinances and how they point to Christ.

Best of the Rest: Jerusalem: Eternal City, by David B. Galbraith, D. Kelley Ogden, and Andrew C. Skinner: An overview of the history of Jerusalem from the time of Abraham to the close of the twentieth century. Where Jesus Walked: The Land and Culture of the New Testament, by D. Kelley Ogden: An examination of the geography, geology, climate, flora and fauna of the Holy Land.

The Gospels

Recent Titles: Recent LDS books on the Gospels have tended to focus on specific events or people. For example, Gethsemane by Andrew C. Skinner provides an in-depth doctrinal discussion of one of the central events of the New Testament: the suffering of Christ in Gethsemane. Thoughtfully written, this work will give focus to your study of the life of Christ. Mary and Elisabeth: Noble Daughters of God by S. Kent Brown chronicles the lives of these remarkable women.

Perennial Favorites: This category is loaded with classics. Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage and The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. by Bruce R. McConkie are among the most popular books in LDS literature. Comprehensive and authoritative, each book reflects the author's reverence for and testimony of the Lord. Another biography of Christ that has enjoyed wide popularity among Latter-day Saints is the beautifully written The Life of Christ by nineteenth century Anglican scholar Frederic W. Farrar.

The above-mentioned books are narrative's of Christ's life. Readers seeking a verse-by-verse commentary on the Gospels will be hard-pressed to find a better one than Daniel H. Ludlow's A Companion to Your Study of the New Testament: Four Gospels—loaded with practical teaching helps and helpful explanations of difficult passages

Best of the Rest: A Burning Light: The Life and Ministry of John the Baptist by Robert Matthews: Reflections on the life and mission of Christ's forerunner. Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels, Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds.: A series of insightful essays by well-known LDS scholars and teachers on various aspects of the Gospels. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim.

The Acts and Epistles

Recent Titles: Go Ye into All the World: Messages of the New Testament Apostles is the latest compilation of Sperry Symposium papers. Including essays on the instrumentality of James's admonition to "ask of God," the organization of the primitive church, the life of Peter, and Paul's teachings on marriage, this book uncovers many of the gems in the Epistles. In New Testament Witnesses of Christ: Peter, John, James and Paul, BYU Professor of Classics John F. Hall explores the lives and ministries of the these four missionary- apostles.

Perennial Favorites: Understanding Paul by BYU religion professor Richard L. Anderson and Paul's Life and Letters by Sidney B. Sperry have long been the most looked-to sources of commentary on Paul's epistles. Sperry's approach is chronological and some of it reads almost like a biography. Each epistle is treated in historical context, and helpful outlines of the letters are included. Anderson examines Paul's writings by category: Letters to Converts, Letters to Leaders, Letters of Reconversion, and so forth. Either book is an excellent introduction to the writings of Paul.

Best of the Rest:

New Testament Apostles Testify of Christ : A Guide for Acts through Revelation by D. Kelley Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner: A recent verse-by-verse commentary on the Acts and Epistles. Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds.: Essays by LDS scholars on aspects of the Acts, Epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

The Book of Revelation

Understanding the Book of Revelation by Jay A. and Donald W. Parry is the most comprehensive LDS treatment of the Book of Revelation. Providing verse-by-verse and often phrase-by-phrase commentary, this volume helps clarify John's message. If Understanding the Book of Revelation takes a micro approach by scrutinizing each phrase in detail, Richard Draper's Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator helps readers by sketching out the big picture. Draper approaches Revelation more thematically, examining John's apocalypse on a chapter-by-chapter basis.

Best of the Rest: The Testimony of John the Beloved: Sperry Symposium compilation focusing on the life and writings of John.

Specific Subjects

Recent Titles: In Scriptural Parables for the Latter Days, W. Jeffrey Marsh and Andrew C. Skinner focus on the Lord's use of parables as a teaching method. While some Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants parables are treated, the Savior's parables in the New Testament form the core of authors' subject matter. Particularly interesting is the chapter on Joseph Smith's interpretation of the parables in Matthew 13.

Perennial Favorites: The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount by John W. Welch: Exceptional analysis of the content and meaning of the Lord's most well-known sermon.

The Joseph Smith Translation

"A Plainer Translation": Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible, Robert J. Matthews seminal work on the JST is a must have for any LDS library. In addition to tracking the fascinating history of the Joseph Smith Translation, it provides interesting commentary on the doctrinal significance of Joseph's changes.

Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible displays every verse changed by Joseph Smith in his Inspired Version side-by-side with the same verse in the King James Version. The New Testament with Joseph Smith Translation by Steven J. and Julie M. Hite contains a traditional harmony of the Gospels with a twist: Joseph Smith translation textual changes are included.

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