I love the idea of the Very Short Introduction series. Short books, around 150 pages, written by experts in the field for a general reader that has little or no background in the field. The reality is that the series (now over 300 books) is wildly inconsistent. Luckily, this is one of the better from the series that I have read, not as good as Mark Noll’s book on Protestantism, which is the best in the series that I have read, but it is close.
My main complaint about the Very Short Introduction to the Bible is that it did not talk at all about the content of the bible. Luke Timothy Johnson spends the majority of time in this book on content. Much of that is focused on the synoptic gospels. Then there is an overview of Paul, with an in-depth look at of Paul and an overview of Johannine books (including the Gospel of John and Revelations).
The book opens with an overview of biblical interpretation and placing the New Testament in history. And then at the end there is a brief discussion of how the canon was formed and why the New Testament continues to be important.
Overall, even as someone that has studied the New Testament at the graduate level, I thought this quick overview was helpful and worth reading, especially since I picked it up on sale.
- African History: A Very Short Introduction by John Parker and Richard Rathbone (not recommended)
- Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction by Edward Craig (Recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to Protestantism by Mark Noll (Highly Recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to the Bible by John Riches (not recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to the Reformation (Recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to Augustine (Recommended)
- Very Short Introduction to the Tudors (Recommended)
- John Knox for Armchair Theologians
- Aquinas for Armchair Theologians
- Calvin for Armchair Theologians