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Light from the Ancient East


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Light from the Ancient East uses nonbilical, nonliterary Greek and Latin ancient texts to shed light on the social, cultural and religious setting in which the NT was written. The work is intended for the general reader or non-specialist; Greek and Latin texts have been translated and technical discussions reserved for the footnotes.

Adolf Deissmann's work with papyri revolutionized NT lexicography and helped to establish the idea that the NT was written neither in classical Greek nor "Holy Ghost Greek" but rather was composed in the popular or common (κοινή) Greek of the first century AD. His work is quoted today in all of the top-rate lexicons (nearly 1,000 times in BDAG and TDNT alone) and his name is often mentioned in the same breath as James H. Moulton, George Milligan, A. T. Robertson, and Frederick W. Danker.

The electronic edition allows the user to quickly see whether Deissmann takes up a particular passage or word. It also includes the 60+ plates of the papyri, monuments, and ostraca that Deissmann discusses.

All in all, Light from the Ancient East is an excellent supplement not only for information about some infrequently-used New Testament words, but also a treasure-trove of information regarding the culture and social practices of the time.

Resource Experts


  • The Problem—Discovery and Nature of the New Texts
  • The Language of the New Testament
  • The New Testament as Literature
  • Social and Religious History in the New Testament
  • Retrospect—Future work of Research
The New Testament is in exile here in the West, and we do well to restore it to its home in Anatolia. It is right to set it once more in the company of the unlearned, after it has made so long a stay amid the surroundings of modern culture. We have had hundreds of university chairs for the exact, scientific interpretation of the little Book - let us now listen while the homeland of the New Testament yields up its own authentic witness to the inquiring scholar. At the desire of my publisher...I have written the main text of the book (as distinct from the footnotes) in a manner to be understood in all essentials by the general reader without specialist knowledge. For the same reason the Greek and Latin texts have been furnished with translations...[And] a large number of the more important texts [are] shown in facsimile.

—Adolf Deissmann

Product Details

  • Title: Light from the Ancient East: The New Testament Illustrated by Recently Discovered Texts of the Graeco-Roman World
  • Author: Adolf Deissmann; translated by Lionel R. M. Strachan
  • Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
  • Publication Date: 1911
  • Pages: 514

Excerpted from Nelson's New Christian Dictionary

Deissman, Adolf (1866–1937) German New Testament scholar. His studies showed that the New Testament was written in popular rather than classical Greek and described the evolution of Christian doctrine in terms of a popular cult. Deissman wrote a life of the apostle Paul and other biblical studies. The more important of his books were Light from the Ancient East (1910) and The Religion of Jesus and the Faith of Paul (1923).

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


8 ratings

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  1. Aaron



  2. Michael T. Fox
  3. Ray Timmermans

    Ray Timmermans


  4. James Christopher Owen
    Though ostensibly written for a general audience, Licht vom Osten can be tough sledding on occasion. However, it more than repays reading for its examples from the papyrii of compelling human stories that illuminate the accounts of the NT.

  5. Anthony Hebert
  6. Andreshome



  7. Patrick Novak

    Patrick Novak


  8. Phil Gons

    Phil Gons




Digital list price: $16.49
Save $4.00 (24%)