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A Theology of the New Testament

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Ladd's magisterial work on New Testament theology has well served thousands of seminary students since its publication in 1974. Enhanced and updated here by Donald A Hagner, this comprehensive, standard evangelical text now features augmented bibliographies and two completely new chapters on subjects that Ladd himself wanted to treat in a revised edition—the theology of each of the Synoptic Evangelists and the issue of unity and diversity in the New Testament—written, respectively, by R. T. France and David Wenham.

784 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1974

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About the author

George Eldon Ladd

36 books47 followers
George Eldon Ladd (1911–1982) was a Baptist minister and professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

Ladd was ordained in 1933 and pastored in New England from 1936 to 1945. He served as an instructor at Gordon College of Theology and Missions (now Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Wenham, Massachusetts from 1942–45. He was an associate professor of New Testament and Greek from 1946–50, and head of the department of New Testament from 1946–49. In 1950–52 he was an associate professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif, becoming professor of biblical theology in 1952.

Ladd's best-known work, A Theology of the New Testament, has been used by thousands of seminary students since its publication in 1974. This work was enhanced and updated by Donald A. Hagner in 1993.

Ladd was a notable, modern proponent of Historic Premillennialism, and often criticized dispensationalist views. His writings regarding the Kingdom of God (especially his view of inaugurated eschatology) have become a cornerstone of Kingdom theology. His perspective is expressed in The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, R. G. Clouse, editor (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977) and the shorter and more accessible The Gospel of the Kingdom (Paternoster, 1959).

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Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
Profile Image for J. Amill Santiago.
171 reviews15 followers
May 3, 2020
What a read! It took me almost two years to finish this gigantic volume, but it was worth it. Ladd's insightful comments and observations on the differing theologies of the NT authors were remarkably helpful and insightful, helping me to see things I have never seen before. It is no surprise that this volume is highly regarded as a must-read among New Testament scholars. His interaction with other critical scholars from the twentieth century adds value to the book as well. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the volumen is Ladd's eye for unpacking and disseminating obscure eschatological passages that are not often thought of as eschatological in nature.

The prime example that comes to mind is his treatment of the resurrection as Paul understands it in 1 Cor. 15. In his own words:

"The resurrection takes place in different stages: Christ, the firstfruits, is the first stage of the resurrection; the second stage will consist of those who belong to Christ at his coming (1 Cor. 15:21–23). The important point here is that the resurrection of Christ is the beginning of the resurrection as such, and not an isolated event. Jesus’ resurrection is in fact the beginning of the eschatological hope. The resurrection of the dead is no longer a single event taking place at one time at the end of the age; the resurrection has been divided into at least two stages, the first of which has already transpired. It is because the resurrection has already begun that the individual in Christ knows that there is resurrection in the future for him or her. The first act of the drama of eschatological resurrection has been separated from the rest of the play and has been moved back into the midst of the present evil age.

This interpretation is supported by the word “firstfruits.” The firstfruits constitute the beginning of the harvest itself. While they are not synonymous with the harvest in its totality, the firstfruits are more than blossoms and leaves and green fruit; they are the fruit come to full growth, ready for harvest; and because they are the first fruits, they are also the promise and the assurance that the full harvest will shortly take place. The resurrection of believers is related to the resurrection of Jesus as the full harvest is related to the firstfruits of that harvest. They are identical in kind; the only difference is quantitative and temporal."

George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, ed. Donald A. Hagner, Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 408.

Speaking about eschatology, the distinction between the 'already' and 'not yet' language was the brainchild of Ladd, which is a really helpful linguistic device to conceptualize different eschatological ideas presented in the NT. Finally, David Wenham's appendix on the diversity and unity of the NT was really helpful as well. Thoroughly recommended.

This book is most certainly George Ladd's Magnus Opus and a modern classic in NT studies.
Profile Image for Christian Barrett.
420 reviews33 followers
November 5, 2020
This is an incredibly helpful New Testament biblical theology. This resource is practical and accessible to all. There is little to no need for having background in studying theology in order to obtain helpful information from this book. The structure of this resource is beneficial for those looking to quickly glean some information, but it also written well for those wanting to read through the entirety of the resource. I’m glad I spent the time in this, for he exposed me to some new concepts and walks through varying views on theological matters in a way that most biblical theologies don’t do. A great resource for those in ministry and those wanting to study further the depths of God’s Word.
Profile Image for Parker.
314 reviews6 followers
December 23, 2022
Ladd doesn't need my review. The book is excellent. Any work of this size and scope is bound to be wrong in some place (Pr 10:19!), so there are certainly places where I disagreed with the author. The chapter on Revelation, in particular, is less than stellar. But the whole book is a magnificent achievement; it shouldn't be overlooked by any NT student or pastor.
Profile Image for Jacob Aitken.
1,579 reviews258 followers
March 22, 2015
I have to edit this review somewhat. I had earlier called Ladd the "last of the old biblical theology guys." I don't think that is accurate. His "already/not yet" model broke new ground.

Ladd is noted for two positions in this book: his claim that the Church and the Kingdom are not identical to each other (contra the Westminster Confession of Faith) and historic premillennialism.

As for the first point. He makes a good argument for the two being distinct, and I think I lean towards his position. But his argument isn't air-tight and one gets the impression that the biblical evidence is actually ambiguous. Maybe it is the Bible's way of telling us this is the wrong question to ask. Maybe the way we ask the question reveals an artificial outlook on Kingdom vs. Church. This is certainly damaging to the more gnostic versions of Reformedom .

As to his second point, I must demur. I demur for two reasons.

I had earlier rejected Ladd's premillennialism. Now I hold to it.

This book is good, but is quite dated. On an intersting side note, Hagner and the other editors espouse the New Perspective reading on Paul. In a footnote they correct Ladd's view on the "Israelite trying to merit his salvation."

Edit: I now lean towards Ladd's historic premil view.
Profile Image for Julio Alejandro.
28 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2022
Cuando recién me convertí, fue en el movimiento de la viña, o Vineyard Church. Ahí fui formado en la teología de John Wimber acerca del ya pero todavía no del reino, que había bebido totalmente de G.Ladd, hoy que por fin pude terminar esta obra, concluyendo que es una excelente obra teológica. Su erudición no opaca su fe conservadora, y tampoco se limita en el diálogo con la crítica bíblica, eso hace grande esta obra.
Profile Image for Steve Irby.
319 reviews4 followers
July 3, 2021
Quarantine-Book #22:

I just finished "A Theology Of The New Testament," by George Eldon Ladd.

This book weighs in at almost 650 pp and took me 3 weeks to read (though one of those was a vacation week and I didn't read).

The first thing to strike me is that "Age to come" is the resurrection age, Kingdom age. Many couldnt fathom this age as "in time" so when translating they modified the language to say "world to come." Hence modern Gnostic and dispensational Christianity's "take me to a cloud outside of time." Very Greek.

"Righteousness is not primarily an ethical quality, but a right relationship, the divine acquittal from the guilt of sin," p 79.

His layout seems similar to other Christlogically heavy works or Christologies in general: the message (Kingdom) the titles (Messiah, son of Man, son of God). His chapter "the messianic problem (Christ of history vs Christ of faith) was good. It prepared me for Habermas' "The Historical Jesus" coming up soon.

Ladd's section on the atonement was good in areas where others miss and truncated in others. The curse Christ broke was death (the wages of sin...) this never gets much discussion, rather everyone runs to sin and discusses the cross in light of that. Ladd did the standard.

Atonement in Paul has Ladd full on the substitution/propitiatory train, as if that's all Paul had to say about the atonement. He seems to take offense at expiation and subjective aspects to the atonement while leaving the triumphant motif for last. Though later in his Pauline eschatology he leans on Christ's victory on the cross. His single-mindedness of PSA has blinded him from the beautiful tapestry that is the atonement.

Ladd applied his plea of Pauline "eschatological perspective" inconsistently. Under "social ethic" (are you married, stay as you are....) he chalked this thought up to Christ soon coming back. When he gets to the Christian/church and the state he forgets everything previously mentioned, though he isn't as nauseatingly statist as some I've read.

This was a good first redemption history/"Kingdom Theology"/realized eschatology book. But it will be my last BT for a while. I need some ST.

#GeorgeEldonLadd #Heilsgeschichte #RealizedEschatology #NewTestamentTheology #TheKingdom
November 22, 2020
A Theology of The New Testamento

This is comprehensive text to gives a deeper understanding of NT. One usually quotes passages from gospels and epistles, without a clear conscience that this must be done with caution and, above all, without imposing pre-conceived theological doctrines on them. If a student of the NT wants to find out the difference between systematic theology and one that derives primarily from the documents contained in the NT -abysmal difference!-, this is the book to study!
June 15, 2013
A theology of the New testament by G.E. Ladd е твърде значима в своята област книга. Решението за ново издание повече от 40 г. след нейното написване вече е свидетелство за това.
В самото начало Лед представя своето разбиране за новозаветно богословие:
Biblical theology is that discipline which sets forth the message of the books of the Bible in their historical setting. Biblical theology is primarily a descriptive discipline. It is not initially concerned with the final meaning of the teachings of the Bible or their relevance for today. This is the task of systematic theology. Biblical theology has the task of expounding the theology found in the Bible in its own historical setting, and its own terms, categories, and thought forms. (p. 20)….. Biblical theology is neither the story of humanity's search for God, nor is it a description of a history of religious experience. Biblical theology is theology: it is primarily a story about God and his concern for human beings. It exists only because of the divine initiative realizing itself in a series of divine acts whose objective is human redemption. Biblical theology therefore is not exclusively, or even primarily, a system of abstract theological truths. It is basically the description and interpretation of the divine activity within the scene of human history that seeks humanity's redemption. (p.21).
Направил това определение авторът продължава като развива своето виждане за новозаветното богословие не тематично, а следвайки различните книги с изключение на Павел, когото третира an blok.
Лед е много добър учен. В своето изследване той показва задълбоченост, сериозна егзегетика, познаване на огромната литература и различни виждания в своята област. Той постоянно се обръща към оригинални езици, старозаветните концепции, еврейска и гръцка мисъл и литература, свитъците от Мъртво море история, археология. Лед показва зряло отношение към текстуалната критика в различените й форми като оценява силните й страни и е отворен да си служи разумно с нея без при това да изпада в крайности. Авторът има смелост да се изправи пред проблемите и не се опитва да ги смете под килима нито се задоволява прекалено бързо и лесно с удобни отговори. Човек може да не е съгласен с неговата интерпретация, но поне може да види възможностите и да придобие представа за начина, по който се разсъждава в няколко различни посоки. От дистанцията на времето това може да се оцени още повече когато видим как някои от неговите бележки са развити от съвременни богослови – напр. начина по който работи апокалиптичният език от Н.Т. Райт (напр. в Jesus and the victory of God) или удачността да използваме термина “обръщение” относно Павел (напр. при новата перспектива).
Анализ на новозаветното богословие на Лед има още две характерни черти. Авторът до голяма степен се придържа към един реформиран апокал��птизъм – течение зададено още от на А. Швайцер. В същото време той взема концепцията на О. Кулмън за “вече, но не още” и поставя изключително силно учение върху нея. Тя пронизва цялата му книга и оказва влияние на всяка тема, до която той се докосва.
Книгата има и някои недостатъци и (според мен) неточности. Например историческият обзор в самото начало на практика започва от средните векове и прескача целия патристичен период. Като цяло, за разлика от еврейската литература, Лед показва много по-слаби познания в областта на патристиката. Но дори когато борави с еврейските източници Лед им приписва един силен легализъм – мнение, което е до голяма степен се смята за анахронизъм след труда на Е.П. Сандърс. Все пак заслужава да се подчертае, че Лед вижда този легализъм като характерен не за юдаизма като цяло, а за междинния период от времето на Исус.
Друг неизбежен недостатък е донякъде остарелият диалог, в който Лед се впуска - основните противници, с който той диалогизира са диспенсационализмът и либералното богословие. През изминалите години богословието, особено в нео-евангелските среди е претърпяло значително развитие. Разбира се школите, които Лед представя са валидни, но вниманието, което се обръща на отделните им представители и техните идеи вече по никакъв начин не е достатъчно актуално. Невъзможността да навлезе в дискусия с новите богослови и проблеми според мен е най-сериозният недостатък на книгата и реална пречка тя да продължи да се използва като учебник. Редакторите на новото издание са наясно с това и са се опитали да го поправят. Те правят това по два начина – като осъвременяват библиографята и като включват 3 допълнителни секции – съответно Introduction by Donald A. Hagner, Matthew, Mark, and Luke by R. T. France, която включва също така и обзор на form criticism, reduction criticism, literary criticism и (3) Unity and Diversity in the New Testament by David Wenham – насочена най-вече срещу Джеймс Дън и неговата Unity and diversity of the New Testament. Това е полезно, но въпреки всичко проблемът си остава. Както Хангър посочва в увода решаването му би изисквало толкова сериозна редакторска намеса, че резултатът вече не би бил оригинално съчинение на Д. Лед. Мисля, че едно по-удачно решение е книгата на Лед да продължи да се ползва, но заедно с друга по-съвременна литература, която допълва нейните пропуски. По този начин тя би продължила да бъде много полезна.
Profile Image for Stephen Bedard.
396 reviews6 followers
April 24, 2019
This is evangelical biblical scholarship at its best. While it is an older work, it is still a fantastic resource that is worth going back to again and again. Ladd's work on the kingdom of God continues to have an impact. New Testament scholars can learn much from Ladd's balanced perspective.
Profile Image for Kessia Reyne.
110 reviews16 followers
May 24, 2009
It is only the ambitious man who would endeavor to publish a book on the theology of the New Testament; and it is only the well-respected man who could get it published by Eerdmans Publishing Company. George Eldon Ladd is one such man. His volume A Theology of the New Testament was first published by Eerdmans in 1974 and the revised edition, edited by Donald A. Hagner, was released in 1993. In the 35 years of its life, Ladd’s work has served an important role in seminary classrooms. So you can imagine how one might feel being asked to review such a book! I feel less inclined to review it than to reread it, largely because much of what little I know about the theology of the New Testament came from this very work.
As previously mentioned, the endeavor is an ambitious one: to write a theology of the New Testament. Ladd approaches this task by dividing the New Testament into major sections based on authorship (the synoptic Gospels, the fourth Gospel, Paul, etc.), but blends this with a topical arrangement. Thus he seeks both to recognize the unique literary styles and theological flavors of each writer while also exploring theology in a systematic way.
This attempt to balance a respect for the diversity in the New Testament with honor for its unity, colors the entire work. From introduction to appendix—and every chapter in between—this volume carefully presents its theology in such a way that it can affirm both differences and similarities between (and sometimes within) New Testament books. Ladd himself was clear that he disdained the idea of a “flat” Bible, with only one, solitary theology, and speaks freely of “the theology of Acts” or “Paul’s theology.” Further, in the revised edition, contributing author David Wenham explores the question of unity and diversity in the New Testament in a more extended way—something that Ladd wished to see in a revised edition, though he died before he could see that hope realized (viii). Literally from the introduction through the conclusion, the themes of unity and diversity of the NT are present.
A careful student of the New Testament can discern the theological diversity there and many biblical scholars have made much of this diversity, some going so far as to question if there was a single unified Christianity at all. What has endeared Ladd to much of the evangelical community is that he builds his theology upon the conviction that the Scriptural record is inspired. This concept of inspiration means that Ladd sees many authors with many emphases, but one Author behind it all. Thus he can recognize unity where he sees it. However, Ladd is no fundamentalist and this volume makes an effort to acknowledge the work of scholars whose views do not accord with his own. This is done both in the bibliographies and in the body of the text.
The efforts of Ladd and Hagner have paid off. The result of Ladd’s original work and Hagner’s updates is a sturdy volume that takes seriously the biblical text and is also conversant with biblical scholarship. All major themes are covered and are arranged in such an order that it makes the book a convenient resource for understanding the theological emphases of various New Testament authors. The only way that this reviewer might suggest improving the volume is to revise it again. More than 15 years have passed since this revised edition was published and to keep it relevant it needs to begin again the conversations with recent scholarship. If indeed it does so, A Theology of the New Testament by George Eldon Ladd will serve well many more students and thinkers in years to come.
Profile Image for Morris.
39 reviews2 followers
June 18, 2008
This is a definitive work, written from a conservative but not fundamentalist standpoint. For instance, his treatment of different theories of the end times (pre-milllenial, post-millenial, etc.) is as balanced and thorough as any I have read. At the end of it he chooses the amillenial position as the most reasonable, but without a hint of the rancour that usually characterizes that discussion. His discussion of Paul's theology has stood me in good stead many times (when I can remember it!)
Profile Image for Charlie.
411 reviews50 followers
May 12, 2014
This book earns 5 stars not for perfection of content, but for being the ideal type of a particular approach to the New Testament. It shows that there really is such a thing as evangelical biblical scholarship, even if that scholarship has idiosyncrasies, as does every school of thought.
Profile Image for Anita.
162 reviews
May 17, 2008
Okay, so this was a textbook for a class. I enjoyed reading every assignment and even read extra because it was so well written.
70 reviews3 followers
June 3, 2011
Read the introduction and the chapters on the Gospels and it was very insightful to the theology in each book.
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