Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions by David A. Croteau {Book Review}

David A. Croteau
Nonfiction / Biblical Studies

Urban Legends of the New Testament surveys forty of the most commonly misinterpreted passages in the New Testament. These "urban legends" often arise because interpreters neglect a passage's context, misuse historical background information, or misunderstand the Greek language.

With examples from the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation, Urban Legends of the New Testament will not only help readers avoid missteps in these texts but also provide a model for engaging in correct interpretation of other New Testament passages. In addition, QR codes are placed throughout the book so the reader can watch David Croteau carefully navigate through ten urban legends to arrive at the true meaning of each text.

My Thoughts

Urban Legends of the New Testament is absolutely fascinating and left me feeling quite sheepish. Before reading this book if you would have asked me if I thought I knew my Bible well I would have pretty confidently said yes. I've been to Bible College and sat through class after class learning a hermeneutical approach to understanding the text. 

The very first urban legend bowled me over. The title of the chapter is There Was No Room at the Inn and it covers the Scriptures from Luke 2:1-7. A very familiar passage. So familiar in fact that I would hazard a guess that most of us can recite it from memory. After reading Croteau's chapter on it I have to laugh at not only my preconceptions but also those of the vast majority. As a credit to him I can honestly say that I will never again read that portion of Scripture in the same way. 

The second urban legend was entitled We Three Kings of Orient Are. By the end of the chapter I was cheering because I actually already knew the misconceptions. A big thanks goes out to Dr. Sherman for that one! Of course I didn't have long before I was once again astounded at my lack of understanding. But sure enough when I compared Croteau's notes with Scripture it came out just the way he said it would. 

This book is designed to be a pseudo text book, but I'm here to tell you that it doesn't read like one. It is quite reader friendly and I think that anyone who reads their Bible would enjoy reading this book as well. Croteau has a way of presenting complicated scenarios and facts so that even the non Bible student can grasp and retain. In fact his whole approach is one of discovery rather than shaming for not knowing in the first place. It's a very refreshing way of teaching. 

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any Christian whether a lay-person or a church staff member. Even if you know each of the forty passages and completely understand their meaning I am sure you will be able to take away some nuggets that will enhance your walk with Christ.

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