frameworks: How to Navigate the New Testament
By: Eric Larson
Frameworks Resources LLC, 2012
Review by: Kevin Stern
Eric Larson’s frameworksTM: How to Navigate the New Testament fills a niche that is really needed in today’s Biblically illiterate Church–a bottom step. Too many Christian books assume a working knowledge of the Bible that is missing in much of their audience. Larson’s book works to bridge that gap. It’s a visually appealing title, full of color and black-and-white photography and modern typography.
He divides the book into two parts: New Testament Frameworks, which gives an overview of the New Testament as a whole, and Book Frameworks and Themes, which treats each New Testament book individually. It’s in the first part that the book shines brightest. The graphics were clean and user-friendly. The maps and introductions to the geography and culture of the New Testament were very accessible. The six boxes used to divide Jesus’ ministry were really helpful. A lot of seminary students could use this as a memory aid in exams. A chart with the comparative lengths of the books was clever (and might not be easily seen in chapter counts). There were a couple of issues that I questioned: the author’s choice to treat speculations as fact (e.g. Mary and Salome as sisters p.45) and his treatment of English translations (few would see NIV as a word-for-word translation and translation philosophies are hard to simplify into accurate vs. enjoyable reading). Also, I wondered why the notes weren’t somehow tagged. (I discovered them at the end and went back to see if I had missed notation in the text).
In the second part, NT books are introduced through a series of ten questions. Each helps the reader gain interest into the reading of the Biblical text itself. Group study questions are included to help it be used in those settings. I loved in the Read It sections that give approximate times each book takes to read (as well as breaking them up into shorter periods for the less ambitious). The highlights of Paul journeys were good. I question characterizing the cherubim as portraying the gospel writers and basing the focus of each gospel on geography or an imagined audience. The Synoptics portray Jesus’ divine nature as much as does John.
This book is brings a synthetic look to Biblical studies and is well worth reading. I hope that others join Eric Larson in trying to make the Bible more accessible to beginners.
- Kevin Stern
DTS Book Center Director