The Bible set I have dreamed about came in the mail last week. The NET Eternity Now New Testament Series Box Set is one way to read the New Testament that is fresh, illuminating, and devotional. This set divides the New Testament into five volumes.
- Volume 1, The Legacy – Matthew, Hebrews, James, and Jude.
- Volume 2, No Going Back – Mark and Peter (1 Peter, 2 Peter)
- Volume 3, Grand Tour – Luke and Acts
- Volume 4, Death to Life – All 13 of Paul’s Letters
- Volume 5, Now But Not Yet – John’s Gospel, Letters (1–3 John), and Revelation
I received this set for free from the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid in exchange for an honest review.
Why I love this new NT Set
I love this set for two big reasons.
1. This 5-volume set helps people read the New Testament in a fresh way
Do you find yourself in a rut when reading through the New Testament? Sometimes it helps to change things up. It’s easier to do this in the Old Testament, where sometimes people read it canonically, chronologically, or historically according to the Tanak. But you can change things up a little bit in the New Testament too.
Certainly, the canonical order is the primary way the New Testament should be read—from Matthew to Revelation. Another way to read the New Testament is to divide the books by their authors, just like this 5-volume set does. This provides a fresh readingof the New Testament. The format of this 5-volume set removes verse numbers so you’re reading the Bible just like you would read any other book.
While there is great value in reading all four Gospels in a row, reading them separately can provide freshness and avoid the déjà vu feeling that you have already read the same passage recently. In this 5-volume set, you will read Matthew, followed by Hebrews, James, and Jude, before jumping to Volume 2 to read Mark and Peter. In volume 3, you get to read Luke and Acts together, which is how they were first read by the original recipient, Theophilus (cf. Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1–3). John’s gospel is paired with the rest of John’s writings. Furthermore, the NET translation makes reading the Bible fresh. Who really reads the NET translation and not just the exegetically helpful NET translation notes? The NET is an excellent translation because, according to the publisher,
the NET translators filtered every question and suggestion through the very best insights from biblical linguistics, textual criticism, and their unswerving commitment to following the text wherever it leads.”
2. This 5-volume set adds insights for NT theology and intertextuality
Second, the Bible—in this case, the New Testament—is meant to be read collectively, like a story. Unfortunately, many people read the New Testament by picking out passages here and there. Yet the NT is a collection of books. They are meant to be read in connection with each other.
Once again, progression is easier to analyze in the Old Testament since OT books were sometimes written years apart, even centuries apart. It’s easy finding intertextual connections between the Pentateuch and the Prophets or the stories of David and the Psalms. In the New Testament, however, all 27 books have been written in the relatively short period of sixty years.
Reading the New Testament in the volumes suggested by this set, however, provides new insights for New Testament theology and intertextuality. For example, when reading Matthew then James, one sees how James expands on the teachings of Jesus in Matthew, especially the Sermon on the Mount. In Volume 2, the “servant theme” often assigned to Mark is also predominant in Peter’s letters. May scholars suggest that Mark patterned his gospel from the perspective of Peter (cf. 1 Peter 5:13; Mark 10:36–41). Volume 5 is my favorite. Intertextual connections between John’s Gospel, John’s Letters, and Revelation are often missed since we don’t read these books in succession; for example themes in ecclesiology or soteriology.
What would I like to see improved?
What would I like to see done differently in this remarkable New Testament set? There are only two things. One, I do get that the titles “The Legacy,” “No Going Back,” or “Death to Life” sound hip. I can see how these phrases, in some way, summarize each volume; but there is no discussion as to why these phrases were chosen.
Secondly, I think the placement of books could use a little tweaking. I would like to see Hebrews, written by someone in the Pauline circle, connected with Luke or Paul. I would also like to see Jude with Mark and Peter, given the connection between 2 Peter and Jude. See my blog post about this on Exegetical Tools here. Ideally, I would like to see the five volumes arranged like this:
- Volume 1: Matthew and James
- Volume 2: Mark, Peter (1 Peter, 2 Peter), and Jude
- Volume 3: Luke–Acts
- Volume 4: Paul’s Letters
- Volume 5: John’s Gospel, John’s Letters, and Revelation
These two suggested changes are very minor. This 5-volume will be a great way to read the New Testament with fresh eyes for new theological insights. If you have the opportunity, get it! It’s available in the FaithGateway Store or Amazon.