With chapters 7-14 Hagner discusses the Gospels themselves, exploring such topics as the historical reliablity of the Gospels, the origin of each of the Gospel, various historical methods of interpretation, the Synoptic Problem, etc. Because I was sick when I read the remainder of part 2, this review will highlight a few points.
Markan Priority and Q
Hagner follows the majority of Synoptic scholars in agreeing that Mark was the first of the Gospels to be written, from which Matthew and Luke both relied on for their Gospels. While I tend to agree with Markan priority, I do not hold to Q as a source-be it written or oral-from which Luke and Matthew relied upon for their writings. In his chapter on the Synoptic Problem, as well as the chapters on Matthew through Luke, Hagner does helpfully discuss the various theories that have been put forwarded as possible answers to the Synoptic Problem. This is helpful for the reader in drawing his or her own conclusions on this debated matter of composition.
One of the things that I find to be most helpful for a classroom or possibly Sunday school setting are the sizes of the chapters. Each chapter is short enough to cover in one sitting, thus allowing one to cover one a chapter a week or a class period. But the relatively short chapter size does not take away from the content of each chapter. Each chapter is informative and interacts with all of the key theological, historical, and interpretative issues you would expect to find in most critical studies and commentaries on the Gospels. And to top it off, the bibliographies at the end of each chapter are complete and can serve as a great launching pad for further in-depth studies.
I am convinced that Hagner’s New Testament Introduction is a must have for any serious student of the New Testament. It is one of the best NT Intros to come along in a number of years, and I hope that it gains the readership that it deserves. While it may be too big in size for a one semester NT Intro class, it should be consulted nonetheless!