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New Testament History: A Narrative Account

ISBN: 9781441254696
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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.

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“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.

Publishers Weekly

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

Ben Witherington III

Ben Witherington III (PhD, University of Durham) is Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. A prominent evangelical scholar, he is also on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. His other works include The Indelible Image, Women and the Genesis of ChristianityThe Gospel CodeA Week in the Life of Corinth and commentaries on the entire New Testament. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to Patheos and Beliefnet. Witherington is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. He previously taught at institutions like Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings around the world. He has led numerous study tours through the lands of the Bible and is known for bringing the text to life through incisive historical and cultural analysis. Along with many interviews on radio and television networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline and the Peter Jennings ABC special Jesus and Paul—The Word and the Witness


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