Ben Witherington’s New Testament History: A Narrative Account is a helpful and easy reading book about the New Testament era. For those looking to begin wading into the life and times of the first century, this is a great book.
Like many New Testament histories, Witherington starts out with the history before the first century – specifically, the rise of Greece. Though this is typical of other New Testament histories, it is necessary in order to understand the politics of Rome and Judah during the first century.
Unlike heavier history books, Witherington does not weigh the reader down with an undue number of dates and names. Though most historians will probably gnash their teeth over this, for the typical person looking for an understanding of the history that effected Scripture, this is exactly what is needed.
Witherington also gives a good explanation for his order of canon writing as well as the authors that wrote them. Though I’m undecided on his ‘Judean John’ idea (that the books of John were not written by the apostle John), I think overall, he gives good arguments in this area as well.
I guess that its weakness lies in that it didn’t grip me. My hope was that a narrative account of history would in some way be different than typical presentations of history. It wasn’t. It was a good read. It was historically and Biblically accurate. But it didn’t seem to me to be much different than other Christian history books that I’ve read (Walker, Cairns, Hastings, Gonzalez, etc.). Though there was interesting material presented that I had not seen elsewhere, overall, I’m not sure that Witherington couldn’t have pointed us to another author rather than simply put another book out about New Testament History that doesn’t add much to the conversation that’s already out there.
If you’ve never read a good New Testament history book, this one is certainly recommended. But, if you have, then you will probably not gain any significant additional insight from this book.Categories: Readings
--Posted by PhilThreeten to PhilThreeten at 2/06/2006 12:22:00 PM