A New New Testament

Edited by Hal Taussig

Review By Casey Fedde

Categories: Bible Study

There is a new New Testament in town, and it's packing prayers and teachings that many have never read before. Bishops and councils selected the 27 books of the traditional New Testament in the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries; their choices would go untouched for hundreds of years. But recent discoveries of early Christian works have been made – and they have recently been bound alongside the traditional text, giving a "freshness and depth" to a well-loved family of gospels, teachings, prayers, and prophesies.

Let's welcome "A New New Testament."

There is as much to learn from the commentary and companion sections as there is from the scriptural books of "A New New Testament." In the forward, Bible scholar John Dominic Crossan (co-author of The First Christmas and The Last Week) states, with regard to the traditional New Testament, "to know what is inside it, you must know what is outside it." "A New New Testament," edited by Hal Taussig, does just that. It exposes readers to both the traditional and the expanded text, as well as to what was left out, and why.

Much like reading the Bible, there is no set way to proceed through the pages in the remix. Dive into the expanded selection of "according to's." Or explore the sections leading up to the testament books, as well as the concluding commentary. There is scholarly value throughout, but the overarching emphasis is the spiritual value of reading the traditional alongside powerful new voices. Whichever approach is taken, prepare to be inspired, captivated, and ever more curious.

Here's a brief history lesson: More than 75 books from early Christian movements were discovered in the 19th and 20th centuries. The remix includes 10 of these, all composed by and for people between 25 and 175 AD, which is in keeping with the original spirit of the New Testament. The new additions primarily are from the 52 documents from early Christianity discovered in the Egyptian desert near the town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. A group of 19 spiritual leaders and scholars pared down these documents, and others, to create "A New New Testament."

But why expound on a classical text, a historical reading list? Why not just stick with translations such as the King James or the New International? "Every discovery of a previously unknown ancient scriptural document stretches the authority and strength of the traditional New Testament," states the book in the preface. Plus, "education is about knowing options," which Crossan emphasizes in the foreword. So all judgment aside, it is a gift to readers to have these documents bound together.

It's a celebration to have the newly discovered Gospel of Thomas next to that of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Rejoice in a Prayer of Thanksgiving, the opening text in the remix; be eager to get to know Jesus better, to more thoroughly understand his work, and to hear new prayers. "A New New Testament" promises to "reinvigorate a centuries-old conversation and to bring new relevance to a dynamic tradition."