Urban Legends of the New Testament

David A. Croteau
B & H Publishing Group, 2015

Reviewed by Peter Barnes

David Croteau deals with 40 common misconceptions that he believes that people hold regarding the New Testament. It is all stimulating, but some points are not quite as cogent as Croteau seems to think. He asserts that Jesus probably communicated at times in Greek – which is likely – but part of his evidence for this is the claim that He probably did so in His direct communication with a Roman centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. However, the parallel passage in Luke 7:1-10 tells us that the communication between Jesus and the centurion was carried out by means of intermediaries, which makes it less likely that Greek was needed.

Croteau doubts that men and women were seated separately in synagogues of the first century; he points out that grace is not unearned, but de-earned; he questions whether Jesus emptied Himself of the glory of heaven in Philippians 2:6-7; he rightly says that the context of 1 John 1:9 is not evangelistic but is addressed to Christians; and we are not forbidden to have cult members in our house because of 2 John 10.urban-legends-book

In Croteau’s view, the hot and cold of Revelation 3:16 are both to be seen in a positive light, while the lukewarmness indicates a lack of good works. His handling of Hebrews 10:25 is fair enough, but it is not really a legend or a misconception to say that Christians are meant to meet together. Croteau simply wants to take note of the whole context about stimulating one another to love and good works.

Some of the “legends” are just the result of poor theology – for example, an anaemic reading of Romans 10:9-10 to justify saying the sinner’s prayer to indicate one has been saved. He tells a dreadful story about how his six-yearold daughter was cajoled into reciting the sinner’s prayer when she really had little concept of what she was doing.

This is a helpful book, and is a reminder to us to be careful in coming to our understanding of New Testament texts. Not all will agree that Croteau has located 40 misconceptions, but whatever the case, his work will help to sharpen our minds.

Buy it here from Reformers Bookshop

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