Carson/Moo's or Guthrie's Intro to NT

Page 1 of 1 (9 items)
This post has 8 Replies | 1 Follower

Posts 172
CL | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Nov 30 2012 7:33 PM

Which New Testament Introduction would you recommend? Carson/Moo's or Guthrie's? I'm starting my master's work in January and the course is allowing me to choose between the two. What are the differences, etc?


Posts 490
John Kight | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 30 2012 7:43 PM

Carson/Moo is really good and I would recommend it! However, while I have Guthrie's NT Intro Ive never opened it... 

Posts 1242
Divinesoteriology | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 30 2012 7:50 PM

Don't have Carson/Moo, I do have Guthries, so I cannot give you a comparison. I can post a sample of Guthries. Is there a particular section that you would be interested in?

Hoster of CHRISTIAN DEBATE FORUM: Apologetics, Theology Proper, Soteriology,  Eschatology

Posts 4571
Forum MVP
NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 1 2012 1:25 PM

Which New Testament Introduction would you recommend? Carson/Moo's or Guthrie's?

I own both in paper and while I think both are good and worthwile, I must say, my impression is Carson/Moo is a more leightweight resource than Guthrie. This relates to the physical book (700 to over 1000 pages), but as well to the content. Guthrie interacts more with other scholarly resources. Reading him means working through the issues, whereas Carson/Moo is a leisure read for people that like such stuff. That said: I read Carson/Moo cover to cover twice and only select chapters from Guthrie.

That's my personal experience, and your mileage may vary, of course.

running Logos 5.2a (Classic MCs, Verbum Master, Foundations+) on Acer Extensa 5230E - now modified with 4GB RAM & 250GB SSD - with Win7 Home Premium 32bit & some Android apps on Kindle Fire

Posts 172
CL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 1 2012 1:53 PM

I went with Guthrie and have read the Intro and started the Matthew chapter. So far so good.

Posts 2013
Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 1 2012 6:07 PM

I believe Guthrie is the best NT Introduction I have ever read. In my opinion Carson / Moo is excellent, but Guthrie is even better. Just my opinion.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 771
Eric Weiss | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 1 2012 6:51 PM

Just a cursory examination suggests to me that it might be worth having both, and I wouldn't say that Carson/Moo is necessarily more lightweight. They cover different subjects with respect to each NT book, though here I've cut and pasted the same "subject" for both for comparison:

Carson/Moo in Ephesians - Purpose:


There is no unanimity in understanding the letter’s aim. Clearly it is meant to give instruction to the readers, but the instruction is not given in the way with which we are familiar from the Pauline writings generally. Most of Paul’s letters are occasional, written for a specific purpose on a specific occasion, but it is not easy to see any particular occasion that called forth this letter.31 Indeed, some question whether it should be called a letter at all.32 N. A. Dahl rejects such views: “It belongs to a type of Greek letters—genuine and spurious—which substitute for a public speech rather than for private conversation.”33
But what is the occasion of this public speech? Some point to a possible tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians and think Paul is trying to secure unity. Others suggest that the letter is meant to instruct Gentile converts in important aspects of their new faith. Some who date the writing later than Paul propose that it was written to further the ecclesiastical interests of early Catholicism. Others have suggested that it is an attempt to set out some of the greatest truths for which the early Christians stood. Faced with such diversity, some scholars give up altogether the attempt to find a single aim and think there are several purposes behind the letter.
All this means that there is a solemnity about the letter and an absence of specifics that show that it is devoted to a general articulation of what is profitable for believers. We must not specify a concrete situation or a concrete problem and say that the letter is addressed exclusively to this. By contrast, we may discern a heresy that is being countered by the epistle to the Colossians, but there is no specific false teaching against which Ephesians is aimed. Among the various theories that have been advanced, certain points of convergence are worth noting: Gentile believers are primarily in view; although there is no concrete crisis that calls forth this epistle, apparently Paul thought his readers needed to be exhorted to pursue unity and a distinctively Christian ethic; there is an emphasis (begun in Colossians) on cosmic reconciliation in Christ (cf. 1:9–10, 20–23; 2:10–22; 3:6);34 in general there is an effort to give Paul’s readers a distinctively Christian identity. We can say that it is an important statement of the gospel that may well have been greatly needed in more than one first-century situation.

Carson, D. A., & Moo, D. J. (2005). An Introduction to the New Testament (Second Edition) (490–491). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Guthrie on Ephesians - Purpose:


It is difficult to determine with any certainty the occasion and purpose of a letter of whose destination there is so much doubt. But if we assume some kind of circular letter theory we are able to suggest a probable purpose from the circumstances of the writer rather than of the readers. Since Paul was in prison he has clearly had time to reflect and this would well account for the more contemplative mood of the epistle, together with the absence of any tension connected with a specific situation with which he was dealing. His mind dwells on the theme of Christ and the church, resulting in an exalted Christology and a high appraisal of the privileges of believers in Christ.3
The close connection between this epistle and Colossians has a direct bearing on its purpose. The same themes are dealt with although in a modified way. It seems probable that the apostle, with the positive doctrine of the Colossian letter still in his mind, wrote it down again in a general way without the specific background of the heresy. Something of the same process may well have taken place in the case of the Galatian and Roman letters.

Guthrie, D. (1996). New Testament Introduction (4th rev. ed.). The Master Reference Collection (535–536). Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

Optimistically Egalitarian (Galatians 3:28)

Posts 771
Eric Weiss | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 1 2012 6:54 PM

Another comparison:



There is a problem posed by the fact that “in Ephesus” is absent from 1:1 in some of the best manuscripts (P46, א, B, 424c, 1739), in Basil and Origen, apparently also in Marcion (who called the letter “the epistle to the Laodiceans”), and in Tertullian. The tone of the letter is impersonal, and some parts of it seem to indicate that the writer did not know the readers—for example, “ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus” (1:15) and “surely you have heard …” (3:2; 4:21). But Paul had evangelized the Ephesians and had spent quite a long time among them (Acts 19:8, 10; 20:31). The warmth of his affection for them and theirs for him is plainly evident in their last farewell (Acts 20:17–38, esp. vv. 36–37). It is very difficult to imagine that Paul would have written such a calm and impersonal letter to such dear friends. The words, however, are included by almost all manuscripts and by all the ancient versions; even the manuscripts that lack the words have “To the Ephesians” in the title.25
The suggestion is accordingly put forward that this was originally meant as a circular letter, probably conveyed by Tychicus, who would supplement it with his own comments (Eph. 6:21). It happens that the copy meant for the Ephesians is the ancestor of almost all the manuscripts that survive. A variant of this view is that a letter without an address was kept by the church at Ephesus, and in time it was assumed that it had been sent to that church. It would accord with the circular-letter hypothesis that there are no references to specific problems or disputes.
There is nothing decisive against the view that one letter was sent to a number of churches, but some objections are urged. An important one is that a circular letter with no name attached is very feasible in an age familiar with photocopiers (and even in one that had to depend on carbon paper), but it makes little sense in an age in which every copy had to be laboriously made by hand. If the whole had to be hand-written, there seems no reason for omitting the two words for the name of the individual church.26 The saving in time would be miniscule. It is also to be borne in mind that the copies with the omission lack “in” as well as the place name: surely “in” would remain in each copy of the circular. It is further urged that it would be very curious if no copy of a circular survived other than that to one particular church: even those manuscripts that lack “in Ephesus” do not have another name inserted. Furthermore, some critics hold that a circular for churches in the general area of Ephesus might be expected to convey some greetings of a general character. At the same time, attention is also drawn to personal touches in Ephesians. Would Paul write to every church, “I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory” (3:13)?27
Perhaps the best form of the circular-letter theory is that which sees Paul as having sent such a letter with Tychicus when he sent Colossians and that the letter was copied and circulated from Ephesus. Since it was a circular, there would be a blank instead of the name of the recipients, but the letter would be known to be associated with Ephesus, and in time that name was attached to it.28
Another suggestion is that this letter was really meant for the Laodiceans, as Marcion thought. If it is held that it is the Laodicean copy of a circular letter, it is open to all the objections noted; furthermore, whereas there are many copies existent with the address to Ephesus, not one survives addressing Laodicea. And if it is held that it is the letter referred to in Colossians 4:16, there is the further problem that Ephesians and Colossians are so like one another that one wonders why the churches should go through the process of exchanging them. In any case, most scholars hold that Ephesians is later than Colossians; and if this judgment is correct, then Colossians 4:16 refers to another writing.
E. J. Goodspeed has suggested that the letter was written as an introduction to the whole Pauline corpus. The thought is that when some loyal Paulinist first made a collection of the Pauline Epistles, he wrote this letter in the style of his beloved master as a way of introducing readers to some of Paul’s thinking. Possibly the collection was first made at Ephesus, which would explain why so many manuscripts bear this address.29
There are difficulties in the way of this hypothesis. One is that we have no record of Ephesians ever standing first in a collection of the Pauline letters. There is variation in the order of Paul’s epistles, but no order has Ephesians standing in the position of an introduction to the whole. There is also the resemblance to Colossians. These two letters resemble each other more than any other two in the Pauline corpus. If someone was writing an introduction, why should this one epistle receive so much attention? And why should the words about Tychicus (6:21–22) be included? They fit quite well in a letter to an individual church or in a circular letter to be carried by Tychicus, but it is not easy to see why they should be included in an introduction. In most forms of this hypothesis it is held that the Pauline letters fell into neglect and that the appearance of Acts stirred up interest in the great apostle. But there is no real evidence of the supposed neglect, or that the publication of Acts would have had such an immediate influence throughout the church that a collection of Pauline writings would be made. It cannot be said that the theory has compelling force.
In the end we must probably conclude that we do not know for sure for whom the letter was originally intended. The evidence of the great mass of the manuscripts and the improbabilities of all the other views may drive us back to the view that it was meant for the church at Ephesus. If we feel that the absence of characteristic Pauline expressions of warmth (that would be expected in a letter to a church where he had spent as much time as he did at Ephesus) and of references to concrete situations are significant, then we will probably think of some form of a circular letter. But we are left with difficulties whatever view we adopt.30

Carson, D. A., & Moo, D. J. (2005). An Introduction to the New Testament (Second Edition) (488–490). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.



Although tradition has handed down this epistle as a letter sent to the Ephesian church, modern criticism, backed by uncertainty regarding the text of Ephesians 1:1, has strongly disputed this opinion. The words ἐν Ἐφέσῳ (‘in Ephesus’) are committed from the oldest Greek codices of the Pauline epistles (P 46, אB). They were also omitted from some old codices known to Basil. It may further be inferred that the words were omitted from Marcion’s text since he seems to have considered that the epistle was addressed to the Laodiceans, not the Ephesians. On the other hand Epiphanius 2 infers that Marcion possessed parts only of Laodiceans and this being so the commencement of the epistle may have been wanting.3 In all probability, therefore, Marcion’s attribution of the epistle to the Laodiceans was no more than an ingenious guess.4
On the strength of this evidence, particularly from the generally reliable Alexandrian tradition, most modern scholars conclude that the original reading omitted the words. There are various suggestions to account for the lack of any specific address, but before discussing these it is relevant to discuss what explanations, if any, can be given for the omission of the words ‘in Ephesus’ if they were in fact original. Such an inquiry is necessary because all the versions without exception include the words, and since some of these are of great antiquity there is at least a possibility that they have preserved a purer text than the Greek MSS. Moreover, the title ΠΡΟΣ ΕΦΕΣΙΟΥΣ (‘To the Ephesians’) attached to all the Greek MSS reflects the tradition current at the time in spite of the doubt about the reading of 1:1. Irenaeus 1 cites Ephesians 5:30 as being in the Epistle to the Ephesians, and Clement 2 of Alexandria cites words from Ephesians 5:21–25 in the same way. Moreover, Tertullian is in no doubt that the epistle was sent to Ephesus when he criticizes Marcion for having a strong desire to change the title.3 There is no doubt therefore that these early Fathers regarded the epistle as addressed to the Ephesian church whatever the reading of the first verse in their texts.
Assuming the possibility that the epistle was addressed specifically to the Ephesian church, it would be necessary to suggest that at some stage in the use of the epistle, particularly in Egypt, the words ‘in Ephesus’ were omitted for liturical purposes.4 There may seem to be some slight support for this supposition in the parallel case of the omission of ‘in Rome’ (ἐν Ρ̓ώμῃ) in a few MSS5 of Romans 1:7, especially as this epistle is nearer in form to Romans than to any other of Paul’s epistles.6 But the evidence is quite inadequate to establish any general practice of turning specific letters into general treatises in this way.
The reading ‘in Ephesus’ which is suspect on textual grounds becomes more so in the light of internal evidence. The writer does not appear to know the readers personally Eph. 1:15; Eph. 3:2; Eph. 4:21). All these references suggest that the readers had only heard of Paul, but this could not be said of the Ephesian church. The first (Eph. 1:15) could perhaps refer to what Paul had heard of them since leaving Ephesus, and the other two references may be no more than rhetorical hypothetical statements. But when these considerations are added to the fact that no term of endearment or reference to beloved or faithful brethren is found and only an indirect concluding benediction is given, it would seem highly improbable that the Ephesian church was specifically in mind. Some other explanation must be sought. The various proposed explanations of the destination of the epistle are examined below.

a. The epistle was sent to Laodicea
This hypothesis follows the evidence from Marcion’s Canon but it is open to criticism on various grounds. It probably arose from the desire to locate the epistle referred to in Colossians 4:16.1 Many ancients and not a few moderns have found it difficult to conceive that any of Paul’s letters could be lost; hence the many hypotheses attempting to track them down. But in the present case the fact that Paul urges the Colossians to read the letter from Laodicea and to send theirs to Laodicea creates a difficulty,2 for the similarity between the two letters is so striking (if the former is identified with Ephesians) that it may be questioned whether there would be any point in exchanging them. On the other hand the different approach in each could have proved edifying to both. The major obstacle is the absence of any MS. evidence replacing ‘Ephesus’ with ‘Laodicea’.3

b. The epistle was a circular letter
It is widely held that Ephesians, designed as a circular, was written at the same time as Colossians and Philemon and was probably taken to various churches in the province of Asia by Tychicus. Some forms of this theory assume that a blank was left in the original copies and Tychicus was requested to fill in the name as he visited each church.The following objections have been raised against this circular letter theory.1
1. If it was designed for a group of churches in the Lycus valley, why did not Paul include some greetings of a general kind as he did in writing to the Colossians?
2. If separate copies were prepared for each church, why did the scribe not fill in the appropriate name? The other Pauline letter which was designed for a group of churches, i.e. Galatians, did not treat the situation in this way.
3. The theory of a blank would be more intelligible if the ἐν had not also been omitted.
4. The Ms evidence does not support the theory since no Ms has survived with another name than Ephesus. It would be strange if the only copy that originally survived was one which was not used and therefore still left blank in the address. The possibilities of its preservation in this case would be remote.2
It may be admitted that these objections are strong enough to cast suspicion on the blank address theory, but they do not dispose of the circular theory as an explanation of the epistle. If the original text did not possess the words ‘in Ephesus’ it may be taken as addressed in a very general way ‘to the saints …, the faithful in Christ Jesus’, which would well fit a general circular theory. It would then be suitable for the Christian communities of Asia and other provinces, especially where Paul was not personally known.3 It may be assumed that as Tychicus was the bearer of the circular or circulars, there would be no particular need for a specific address as no definite situation is reflected in the epistle.4

c. The epistle was Paul’s spiritual testament
Those who maintain this view generally place it at the end of the Roman imprisonment and deny the second imprisonment hypothesis. It is then viewed as the apostle’s parting message to the church as a whole.1 It is certainly not impossible that Paul speaks to the Ephesians as a type of the universal church, for there is no denying that Paul is more reflective in this epistle than in any other and he may well be intending to give a summary of his doctrine. To maintain this view it is not necessary, however, to regard Ephesians as Paul’s latest epistle, for the need for such a statement of doctrine for the Asiatic churches must have been present over a long period. But the greatest obstacle to this theory is the fact that the epistle does not appear to be addressed to the universal church but to particular people, although the personal references are admittedly rather vague.

d. The epistle was an introduction to the Pauline corpus
This theory suggested by Goodspeed and John Knox has been taken over by Mitton with some minor modifications.2 The devoted Paulinist who is said to have written Ephesians feared that the readers, unfamiliar as they were ex hypothesi with the Pauline epistles, needed a summary of the teaching contained in them. This introductory treatise became known as ‘To the Ephesians’ because the collected letters were first made known to the Ephesian church.
This theory is open to several criticisms.
1. There is no trace of Ephesians ever standing at the head of the Pauline corpus. If, as both Goodspeed 3 and Mitton 4 maintain, the epistle was composed and the collection published about A.D. 90 we should expect to find some trace of this position in the lists of the second century, but such evidence is lacking.5
2. The Tychicus passage in Ephesians 6:21–22, which is in verbatim agreement with Colossians 4:7–8, is a real problem for Goodspeed’s theory. There is no adequate occasion for adding so personal and direct a reference to Tychicus when the other parts of the epistle are allegedly so impersonal. It would have been obvious to the observant reader that these words, so curious in an introductory letter, were borrowed without modification from Colossians. A natural course for a Pauline imitator would have been to omit all reference to Paul’s companions, unless of course his purpose was to stamp his work with the appearance of genuineness. But if the Tychicus passage was included to add verisimilitude to an imitation, it could hardly have been done more clumsily than by an isolated but wholesale borrowing from an existing epistle. The letter would certainly not become more realistic by the statement that Tychicus would tell the readers everything (Eph. 6:21). The suggestion of J. N. Sanders 1 that this passage is an interpolation probably by Marcion to lend colour to his theory that it was sent to Laodicea and hence comparable with Colossians is not more convincing. It assumes without adequate evidence that Marcion could have made such an interpolation in so convincing a manner that all subsequent copies of the text were influenced by it, or else were directly descended from Marcion’s interpolated copy.2
3. The theory depends on the presupposition that Paul’s letters suffered a period of neglect (see further discussion on pp. 990 ff.) and that interest was revived on the publication of Acts, but this puts too much weight on the influence of literature.3 The failure of other writers of the same period to which Goodspeed assigns Ephesians to grasp the main characteristic ideas of Paul’s epistles does not lead us to suppose that Ephesians could have been produced solely by literary influences.
4. The major difficulty is the literary problem. As an introduction to the whole Pauline corpus it is inconceivable that the writer would have given such preponderance to Colossians.4 It certainly cannot be adequately explained as accidental (as Goodspeed’s theory seems to imply). Moreover, the claim that it reflects all the other epistles is only partially true 1 and it would for that reason be a very strange introduction to them.2

e. The epistle was intended as a philosophy of religion for the whole Christian world
Another theory based on non-Pauline authorship is the view that a personal acquaintance of the apostle produced it as an attempt to formulate a kind of religious philosophy of history from the teaching of Paul, using Colossians extensively as his framework because in that epistle Paul came closest to the doctrine he wished to express.3 Under this theory the title ‘To the Ephesians’ was a scribal addition which is therefore of no significance. But as with the last-mentioned theory, no satisfactory account of the insertion of the Tychicus passage can be given, nor is the scribal addition of the title easy to imagine if the address in 1:1 was intelligible without it and was taken to indicate a general letter. It must have had some close connection with Ephesus for such a title to stick to it so firmly in the tradition. The best that can be suggested under this theory is that the Ephesian church sponsored it,4 but there is no other evidence that any important church ever sponsored a pseudonymous epistle.

f. The epistle was a general safeguard against the spread of the Colossian heresy
This is usually held in conjunction with the circular letter theory, it being supposed that Paul envisaged that the problems that had actually beset the Colossian church might well seep into other churches in the same district, and a general letter was therefore sent to all the churches in the vicinity. The Tychicus passage would be quite naturally explained as a reference to the bearer of the epistle. He would be acting as Paul’s representative to many groups of Gentile Christians whom Paul had never visited. But on his way he would pass through Ephesus and may well have left there a copy of the epistle while he himself proceeded up the Lycus valley to the other Christian communities.1

g. The epistle was a combination of a liturgy and a Pentecost discourse
This suggestion has been based on supposed similarities with the Qumran covenant-renewing service.2 But this theory is not convincing because it does not do justice to the essential unity of the epistle, nor can it adequately account for the compilation into a pseudonymous Pauline epistle.

Guthrie, D. (1996). New Testament Introduction (4th rev. ed.). The Master Reference Collection (528–535). Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.


Optimistically Egalitarian (Galatians 3:28)

Posts 1464
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 2 2012 9:12 PM

Carson in a review said Guthrie's was a little bit out dated, but to be honest I think Guthrie goes more in-depth than Carson/Moo do.  I had Guthrie in the past and used it only a little.  Now I own Carson/Moo and I don't really use it, but read the introduction to a couple of epistles and I'd say it's shorter than Guthrie but more to the point when it comes to teaching a NT introduction/Survey class during Sunday school or Wednesday night class.  I'm planning to get Guthrie again just for the sake of having it again and get somethings Carson/Moo might have missed or not elaborated as much.


Page 1 of 1 (9 items) | RSS