Essential to an understanding of the New Testament is a comprehension of the individuals, events, and social movements that shaped the setting from which Jesus and his followers emerged. Unfortunately, many accounts by historians can leave readers feeling overwhelmed and confused. New Testament History provides a worthy solution to this problem. A well-known expert on the social situation of the New Testament, Ben Witherington offers an engaging look into the world that gave birth to the Christian faith.
“I as the author of this monograph believe a good deal more than I can prove” (Page 17)
“Thus it came to pass through this labyrinthine process that (1) Israel became a partially Hellenized realm; (2) Israel came to be ruled first by Alexander’s successors, then briefly by Jews, then finally by the Idumean Herod; and (3) Judea came to be a province ultimately ruled first by client kings, then by procurators or prefects.” (Page 43)
“It appears that Matthew seeks to portray Jesus as a true Israelite in the line of David, while Luke wishes to stress that Jesus is a true human being. The crucial point of both genealogies, however, is not so much to say or explain something about Jesus’ ancestors as about his character.” (Page 71)
“important conclusion: we have no ancient sources about Jesus and early Christianity from ‘neutral’ observers.” (Page 15)
“For three years Alexander studied with Aristotle, and what he learned then would shape him for the rest of his life, especially the lesson about the inherent superiority of the Greek language and culture to all other forms of human expression.” (Page 33)
This is a very readable and informative survey of the rise of Christianity against its historical background. I can think of no higher praise than to say that this book may well do for this generation what F. F. Bruce’s New Testament History did for an earlier one.
—I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen
A well written and informative overview not only for theologians and specialists but also for every educated and interested reader. It gives a fine introduction to the time of Jesus and the apostles and includes several new historical and archaeological insights. The numerous illustrations are also valuable.
—Martin Hengel, University of Tübingen
New Testament History fills a significant gap in biblical background textbooks. This well-written book, with its choice photographs, maps, and sidebars, will engage and enlighten students painlessly! I recommend it enthusiastically.
—Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College
This is a fine choice for undergraduates and lay church members, as well as more advanced students, who will most appreciate Witherington’s sensitivity to the complexities of history.
An engaging narrative replete with clear maps and judiciously chosen excerpts from many sources such as Josephus and Qumran.
—Fred W. Burnett, Religious Studies Review
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