The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible from 500 BC to AD 100

The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible from 500 BC to AD 100

The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible from 500 BC to AD 100

The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible from 500 BC to AD 100

Synopsis

This book does what no other introductory work does; it displays clearly and simply the interplay of forces, people, and events that were key to the birth and gradual expansion of early Christianity.

Excerpt

… from the deportation to
Babylon to the Messiah, there
were fourteen generations.

Matthew 1:17

THE secular history constituting the background and environment of the Gospel and the primitive church is the subject matter of the discipline called history of New Testament times [Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte]. Here theological questions are deliberately avoided; a historical stance is taken, with no attempt being made to illuminate any heavenly reality or to explain the unique significance of the biblical message. Only the earthly circumstances are analyzed, using the methods of inductive and causal historical scholarship. But there is also theological justification for this undertaking, if one bears in mind the basic theme of Christology: the Word became flesh, when the time had been fulfilled (John 1:14; Gal. 4:4).

Christ and the church were to bring the fulfillment of Jewish history. De facto, they were related in different ways to Judaism, and indirectly also to Hellenism and the Roman Empire. In order to elucidate these factors in the background and environment of the New Testament, it is necessary to survey several centuries, during which their characteristics and significance developed. Since the development of Judaism began shortly before 500 B.C., and since the period covered by the New Testament lasted until around A.D. 100, these dates will be the termini of our study. Furthermore, since Jesus and his disciples were particularly confronted with political, social, and religious factors in Ju-

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