Cover image for New Testament history : a narrative account
New Testament history : a narrative account
Witherington, Ben, III, 1951-
Publication Information:
[Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.] : Paternoster Press ; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Academic, [2001]

Physical Description:
430 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BS2410 .W55 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Essential to an understanding of the New Testament world is a comprehension of the individuals, events, and social movements that shaped the world from which Jesus and his followers emerged. Unfortunately, the accounts of Josephus and other early historians are complex and often leave students feeling overwhelmed and confused. New Testament History provides a worthy solution to this problem. A well-known expert on the social world of the New Testament, Ben Witherington offers an engaging look into the world that birthed the Christian faith.

In this succinct yet readable narrative, Witherington carries the reader from the intertestamental Maccabean wars to the reign of Domitian and the exile of John, focusing especially upon the life of Christ. Witherington closely explores the geographical, political, social, and religious influences that shaped the leaders and social movements of the day. The inferiority complex of Alexander the Great and the stories of "Little Boots" and Nero are a few examples of such case studies.

This rich chronicle leaves readers with a better understanding of the social and political climate of the New Testament world, tackling controversies and issues with depth and clarity. Students, pastors, and interested readers will enjoy this stimulating account and appreciate its readable narrative style. New Testament History contains a number of pedagogical features, including illustrations, sidebars, "Closer Look" sections, maps, and charts.

Author Notes

Ben Witherington III (Ph.D., University of Durham) is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Beginning with a prolegomenon that carefully defines history as well as the work of historians and biographers, Witherington sets aside the misconception that objectivity requires neutrality and, taking a cue from the author of Luke and Acts, weaves "an orderly account" that covers the period from Alexander the Great through the first century C.E. Witherington reads Luke and Acts and Josephus as reliable though hardly neutral historical sources and supplements them with an impressive array of primary and secondary material, beginning with the other Gospels, which he reads as instances of ancient biography. He is explicit about the choices he makes in reading sources, and the care with which he reveals his rationale for judgments about evidence is admirable and particularly welcome in an introductory text. Well-placed illustrations and maps, chronological tables, and a series of highlighted "closer looks" at key topics increase the volume's usefulness. In all, a readable one-volume overview of the historical context within which Christian scripture was formed, suitable for New Testament students in the academy and outside of it. --Steven Schroeder

Publisher's Weekly Review

Beginning with the introduction which eschews the usual John-vs.-the-Synoptics categorization of the Gospels in favor of a more nuanced approach, in which Luke's Acts is the historical sore thumb alongside the three Jesus biographies this primer on New Testament history tips some sacred cows while teaching students the basics. The textbook format is informative without being stuffy, augmented by sidebars, maps, illustrations and photographs of ancient sites and scrolls. 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. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 9
Abbreviationsp. 12
Prolegomenon: Of History, Historians, and Biographersp. 14
1 From Alexander to Alexandra and Beyond (356-67 B.C.)p. 29
2 The Rise of the Herodians, the Birth of Jesus, and the Dawn of an Empire (63-4 B.C.)p. 49
3 The Herodians and Their Prophetic Adversaries: John and Jesus (4 B.C.-A.D. 27)p. 80
4 The Coming of the Prefect and of the Perfect: Pilate of Rome and Jesus of Nazareth (A.D. 26-29)p. 107
5 The Trials and Tribulations of Jesus (A.D. 29-30)p. 132
6 The Rising of the Son and the Birth of the Church (A.D. 30-33)p. 160
7 The Roads from Jerusalem (A.D. 33-37)p. 188
8 Dark Passages (A.D. 37-47)p. 213
9 The Gentile Mission and the Jerusalem Council (A.D. 48-49)p. 228
10 Good News Heading West (A.D. 50-52)p. 249
11 The Expansion of the Enterprise (A.D. 53-57)p. 274
12 Trials and Executions: Signs upon the Earth (A.D. 58-62)p. 301
13 Through the Refiner's Fire (A.D. 63-68)p. 333
14 The Dawn of the Age of Inspiration (A.D. 68-70)p. 356
15 Beyond Jerusalem, Jamnia, and the Julio-Claudians (A.D. 70-81)p. 370
16 The Dominion of Domitian (A.D. 81-96)p. 390
Scripture Indexp. 411
Ancient Writingsp. 419
Subject Indexp. 423