Booklist — March 1, 2013
* * * Starred Review * * *

This remarkable book arises from editor Taussig's 30 years of pastoral and seminary teaching, during which he discovered that many people found their faith deepened and refreshed by studying the extracanonical Christian writings found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, and the books of the New Testament together. He and a council of 18 others—pastors, scholars, and teachers, representing (unofficially) Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and Native American and Asian religions—selected nine of those "lost" writings, along with the never-lost, once highly esteemed Acts of Paul and Thecla, to add to the standing New Testament canon. Most appear with the kinds of writings in the canon they resemble and complement—gospel with gospel, epistle with epistle—while two freestanding prayers and the contents of a large collection of prayers, the Odes of Solomon, serve as devotional introductions to the collection's six sections. Each writing, old or new, is separately introduced, and a concluding 70-page "companion" sketches the history of all the writings, explains how the selection council worked, clears up some misunderstandings (especially about Gnosticism), and suggests, citing examples, how to study old and new writings comparatively. The writings themselves are newly translated into common English and divided into chapters and verses in the manner of traditional bibles. Not meant to replace the traditional New Testament, this fascinating work will be, Taussig hopes, the first of several new New Testaments.


"A New New Testament offers its readers an expansive opening onto the world of the early Christians. For the first time, modern readers can explore a range of voices and theological perspectives that have not been heard for centuries, set side-by-side with well-known biblical books. Old texts become freshly vibrant, and new texts open ancient avenues for renewed reflection and spiritual practice. A New New Testament will be a vital resource for the 21st century."

—Karen L. King, Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School


"This brilliant contextualization of the familiar New Testament in the context of
other early Christian writings illuminates both. It is important both historically and theologically. Readers will not be able to see the New Testament in the
same way again."

—Marcus Borg, author of The Heart of Christianity


"A New New Testament does what some of us never dreamed possible: it opens the treasure chest of early Christian writings, restoring a carefully select few of them to their rightful place in the broad conversation about who Jesus was, what he did and taught, and what all of that has to do with us now. This new constellation of early Christian scriptures adds brilliant facets to the diamond of divine revelation, waking up those of us who thought we knew it all. While this book will be a welcome addition to the academic courses in New Testament, Christian origins, and theology, I expect it will have its greatest impact in churches, as people of faith become better acquainted with some of their first forebears in faith."

—Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Leaving Church and An Altar in the World



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade & Reference