Have you ever wondered what happened during those 400 years between the Old and New Testament? Do you wonder why the Pharisees seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere? Did you ever want to know the rest of the story of all of those rulers named Herod? Have you ever gotten the Pharisees, Sadducees, Priests, Scribes and Zealots confused?
I have struggled for years to understand what happened in those 400 “missing” years and how the world of the Old Testament had obviously changed so much by the time Jesus was born. I have finally found a book that helps put the pieces in place.
The World of Jesus by Dr. William H. Marty does a wonderful job of covering a lot of confusing history in an understandable way. Each chapter begins with a short re-creation of a story in the New Testament. Dr. Marty then backs up and explains how the history that happened between the two testaments influenced the world Jesus and his Apostles encountered.
Reading through the book answered a lot of questions I had wondered about over the years. Nothing that would change any beliefs, but things that I just didn’t understand. Even though it is written in relatively non-academic, user friendly English, there were times when I still got a little confused. Through no fault of the author’s, many important people had the same or very similar names. Several times I had to back-track a little to keep it straight in my mind.
I think my favorite part was that he was able to clearly explain how the events that occurred during those “missing” years changed or at least influenced the culture of the world of Jesus. He covers everything from why the Israelites were now called Jews to the palace intrigues of Herod and his descendants to finally sorting out all of the major groups discussed in the New Testament (and much more). Somehow, he manages to do that in only 185 pages.
The book also includes study questions for each chapter in case you want to use the book for a Bible study. The glossary in the back is great if you want to quickly remember one of the terms or people he discusses at a later date.
If you want to understand the culture of Jesus’ world, comprehend things in the New Testament you don’t quite understand or just love Biblical History, this book is a must for your library. It is probably too much for all but the most mature teens, but you can tell your children the information you have gleaned from it. It will help many of the pieces of the Bible fall into place for them. In fact, after the rest of my family reads it, I plan to read it again more slowly!
I received this book for free from Bethany House in return for my honest review. This is one of the best reference books I have seen and it is now a part of my personal library.