How can the gospel authentically come to life in widely differing cultural settings? This is a question gospel communicators and theologians have asked in many situations around the world. Missionary theorists have pondered and written on it at length. More and more, those who do theology in the West are also trying to discover new ways of communicating and embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture. However, few have considered in depth how the early church contextualized the gospel – and yet the New Testament provides numerous examples.
As both a cross-cultural missionary (in south east Asia and western Europe) and a New Testament scholar, Dean Flemming is well equipped to examine how the early church contextualized the gospel and to draw out lessons for today. In Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission he provides a careful and thorough study of the contextual ministry of New Testament authors, whom Flemming argues were highly aware of the cultural settings they addressed, framing their messages accordingly. By carefully sifting the New Testament evidence, Flemming uncovers the patterns and parameters of a Paul or Mark or John as they communicated the Word, and he brings these to bear on our contemporary missiological task.
Rich in insights and conversant with frontline thinking, this is a book that will revitalise the conversation on this subject, and refresh our Christian engagement with today’s diverse cultures, communities and contexts. Greatly useful for those doing missiology today, this volume is also a first-rank contemporary study of key New Testament issues. The book is a well deserved winner of a 2006 Christianity Today Book Award and honoured as one of the “Fifteen Outstanding Books of 2005 for Mission Studies” by International Bulletin of Missionary Research.