“Warren Carter is a skilled writer. Organized around seven key events and their effects, this book provides a fresh approach to setting the New Testament and early Christianity in context.”—Craig Keener, Asbury Theological Seminary
This useful, concise introduction to the worlds around the New Testament focuses on seven key events in the centuries before and after Jesus. It enlightens readers about the beginnings of the Christian movement, showing how religious, political, and economic factors were interwoven in the fabric of the New Testament world.
Leading New Testament scholar Warren Carter has a record of providing student-friendly texts. This introduction offers a "big picture" focus and is logically and memorably organized around seven events, which Carter uses as launching pads to discuss larger cultural dynamics and sociohistorical realities that were in some way significant for followers of Jesus and the New Testament. Photos and maps are included.
1. The Death of Alexander the Great (323 BCE)
2. The Process of Translating Hebrew Scriptures into Greek (ca. 250 BCE)
3. The Rededication of the Jerusalem Temple (164 BCE)
4. The Roman Occupation of Judea (63 BCE)
5. The Crucifixion of Jesus (ca. 30 CE)
6. The Writing of the New Testament Texts (ca. 50-ca. 130 CE)
7. The Process of "Closing" the New Testament Canon (397 CE)
So what is this book about? Why should you bother reading it? Reading it because an instructor assigned it to you to read is not a bad reason. But is there any payoff? Good questions.
Here's the short answer: the seven chapters of this book provide an orientation to some important aspects of the early Jesus movement and the New Testament. Reading it will enlighten you about the beginnings of the Christian movement and help your understanding of the New Testament.
Here's the long answer: Seven hundred years. Seven chapters. Seven moments or key dates. Two times seventy (or so) pages. This book does not pretend to be comprehensive. Rather it is transparently selective. Each chapter highlights a particular moment. There are many, many other moments that we could have highlighted. The selected moments are of varying lengths;like a blind date gone bad, one even lasts a couple of hundred years!
What makes each moment special? How were they selected? I take each moment as a focal point for larger cultural dynamics and sociohistorical realities that were in some way significant for followers of Jesus and the New Testament. I use them as entry points, as launching pads, to talk about these significant and larger realities.