the Apostolic Age £6.95).
New Testament Foundations: Volume 2, Acts-Revelation, by Ralph P. Martin (Paternoster Press, £9) THE first volume of Professor Martin's survey, published three years ago, dealt with the four Gospels, and the present work completes the project with a study of the remaining New Testament literature.
The originality of approach which won the wide acclaim for the first volume is observable here again: the aim is to establish the unique character of each text and to identify the salient topics of present-day discussion concerning each.
The result is a guide to the Apostolic Age and its literature which combines learning and liveliness to an unusual degree.
The dry title gives no hint of the relaxed fluency of the style, which does not disdain an occasional colloquialism: Antioch is the launching-pad for Paul's journeys; the Jerusalem Council is a summit conference; the ceremonial attending Paul's appearance before Agrippa is a gala performance.
But sustaining the attractive, readable manner is a substructure of meticulous and indefatigable reference not only to chapter and verse of the texts but also to fullscale studies of the subjects discussed and (an invaluable service to students, this) to recent articles in more than 50 learned journals.
The Graeco-Roman setting is vividly recreated with the help of generous quotation from contemporary sources. The Acts of the Apostles is presented as a series of cameos, each shown to have its own self-contained significance but each contributing also to Luke's overall purpose as historian and theologian.
An absorbing discussion of Paul's letters never loses sight of the dynamic personality of their writer: standard topics of debate, such as the precise nature of the false teaching of Colossae, are reviewed not as academic abstractions but as reflections of the life-situation of the Apostle at given moments in his career.
The treatment of other letters is similarly personalised — Hebrews, for example, being seen as a clarion call to the pilgrim people of God.
A concise discussion of Revelation ("no other New Testament book proclaims the sovereignty and rule of God in so eloquent, if so bewildering, a way") will win new readers who have hitherto been .deterred by the enigmatic character of the work.
Mention must also be made of a chapter elucidating the subject of the hymns discoverable in the New Testament writings — a theme on which Professor Martin writes with special authority, having published a decade ago an exhaustive study, now deemed indispensable, of the christological hymn which Paul enshrined in the second chapter of his Letter to the Phillippians.
Altogether this is a New Testament guide with a freshness of approach worthy of the Church's springtime which it so convincingly evokes.
Edwin Bannon, FSC