The Dictionary of New Testament Background joins the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters and the Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments as the fourth in a landmark series of reference works on the New Testament in the IVP Bible Dictionary Series. In a time when our knowledge of the ancient Mediterranean world has grown by leaps and bounds, this volume sets out for readers the wealth of Jewish and Greco-Roman background that should inform our reading and understanding of the New Testament and early Christianity.
The Dictionary of New Testament Background takes full advantage of the flourishing study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and offers individual articles focused on the most important scrolls. In addition, the Dictionary of New Testament Background encompasses the fullness of second-temple Jewish writings, whether pseudepigraphic, rabbinic, parables, proverbs, histories or inscriptions. Articles abound on aspects of Jewish life and thought, including family, purity, liturgy and messianism. The full scope of Greco-Roman culture is displayed in articles ranging across language and rhetoric, literacy and book culture, religion and cults, honor and shame, patronage and benefactors, travel and trade, intellectual movements and ideas, and ancient geographical perspectives.
No other reference work presents so much in one place for students of the New Testament. Here an entire library of scholarship is made available in summary form. The Dictionary of New Testament Background can stand alone or work in concert with one or more of its companion volumes in the series. Written by acknowledged experts in their fields, this wealth of knowledge of the New Testament era is carefully aimed at the needs of contemporary students of the New Testament. And its full bibliographies and cross-references to other volumes in the series will make it the first book to reach for in any investigation of the New Testament in its ancient setting.
“Revolutionary movements were a Jewish response to the injustice of Israel’s oppressors, particularly the Roman Empire. The first century was one of the most violent epochs of Jewish history, with the cauldron of unrest reaching its apex in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in a.d. 70. This in turn was punctuated by the mass suicide of Jewish rebel forces at Masada in a.d. 74. Sixty years later the smoldering embers from this war were fanned into flame by the Jewish leader Simon ben Kosiba, who led the second revolt against the Romans in a.d. 132–135.” (Page 936)
“Pilate Inscription (Boffo, 219). This Latin inscription of only four lines was found in 1961 in the Roman theater in Caesarea Maritima and attests to the fact that Pontius Pilate was prefect of Judea. This inscription is important because it is the only direct evidence from the time that Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea, apart from references in the NT and other writers such as Josephus and Tacitus. It also confirms the title of the governor of this region as a prefect (praefectus), as well as providing evidence possibly for the word Tiberium, or at least that a building project occurred in Tiberias (Boffo, 220).” (Page 534)
“The usual procedure in modern excavation, whether one is working in OT, classical or NT periods, is first to determine the identity of the site to be excavated. Cities like Athens, Rome, Jerusalem and Jericho have remained occupied through the centuries, and there is no question as to their identity. However, some cities, like Jerusalem and Jericho, have shifted the center of their activity in various periods of their history, and although they remain in the same basic area, the modern city may be a few hundred yards to a few miles apart from the ancient site.” (Page 94)
In the wake of several other fine dictionary efforts, we now have in hand the Dictionary of the New Testament Background from InterVarsity Press. It provides one-stop shopping on a host of background issues with up-to-date bibliographies and a coterie of the top scholars writing in their areas of specialty. For anyone wanting to set the New Testament in its proper historical, social, literary, and theological contexts, this volume is a must. Clean out the old leaven of outdated background books and put this one on your shelf.
—Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary
Yet another superb dictionary from IVP! This, like the others, will be within arm's reach whether I'm preparing a sermon or writing a book, or even just browsing in the fascinating hinterland of early Christianity.
—N. T. Wright, canon theologian, Westminster Abbey
The breadth and scope of the dictionary on the one hand, and the depth of scholarship demonstrated on both small and large entries are notably impressive, and it is clear that everything anyone might wish to know about the background of the New Testament is to be found in this massive work. Not only does it deserve an important place with the other encyclopedic dictionaries in the IVP series, but it will hold a unique place among all dictionaries of this kind. More power to IVP for this bold undertaking, and salutes and best wishes for continued production and success with the entire project.
—David Noel Freedman, chair in Hebrew biblical studies, University of California, San Diego and editor of the Anchor Yale Bible
Written in many cases by scholars who are internationally recognized authorities on the specific topics covered, these essays cover the ground clearly, succinctly, and yet comprehensively, and provide adequate references and bibliography for students to proceed further. The importance of context and background for understanding texts cannot be overemphasized, but there is a danger of simply distilling out the information most directly relevant to a given text and thereby giving a skewed impression of the whole; this is a danger which is avoided by the present volume which is much more holistic in its approach. Students will bless IVP for this welcome tool for study, and they will pray for the timely appearance of similar volumes devoted to the Old Testament.
—I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen
Where would you go to find a succinct overview about marriage, sex, and the family in the New Testament world? Or a brief introduction to any book of the apocrypha? Or a description of a particular philosophy or religion that competed with Christianity in the first century? Or the most important historical and cultural developments that led to the Hellenization of Israel? Or a brief description of the city of Corinth? These and numerous related topics are all addressed in IVP's new blockbuster Dictionary of New Testament Background. The authors form an all-star cast of scholars from all major branches of Christianity and Judaism, with a heavy emphasis on evangelicals. But expertise is never sacrificed for the sake of a uniform theological perspective, and the contributions are both up-to-date and filled with detailed, state-of-the-art bibliographic references. A must buy for anyone who wants in one volume so rich an array of historical and cultural background information for the New Testament.
—Craig L. Blomberg, professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary
Dr. Craig A. Evans received his PhD in New Testament from Claremont Graduate University and his DHabil from the Karoli Gaspar Reformed University in Budapest. He is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University in Texas.
Evans taught at Trinity Western University in British Columbia for 21 years, where he directed the graduate program in biblical studies and founded the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute. He has recently served on the advisory board for the Gospel of Judas for National Geographic Society and has appeared frequently as an expert commentator on network television programs.
Evans has written and edited extensively on the historical Jesus and the Jewish background of the New Testament era. His published works include From Prophecy to Testament, Jesus and the Ossuaries, Jesus: The Final Days, and Dictionary of New Testament Background.
Stanley E. Porter is president, dean and professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. He is the author or editor of numerous studies in the New Testament and Greek language, including Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics: Open Questions in Current Research, Discourse Analysis and the New Testament: Approaches and Results, and Rhetorical Criticism and the Bible, all available from Logos in the Studies in New Testament Greek and JSNTS Collection (17 Vols.).