Jesus in Context

Background Readings for Gospel Study

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"Matches Gospel texts with interesting parallels from other ancient Jewish and early Christian sources, illuminating the biblical texts. It is indispensable for pastors and students of theology."--Martin Hengel, University of Tubingen

Crucial to a proper understanding and interpretation of Scripture is an awareness of the historical, cultural, and religious context in which the Bible was written. But the passing of two millennia often prevents the modern student from fully understanding the significance of various actions and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. For instance, the controversy over Jesus's healing on the Sabbath must be understood against the backdrop of the Mishnah's detailed list of forbidden Sabbath activities.

The diligent researcher can cull such information by poring through numerous early Jewish and Christian texts or by referencing Strack and Billerbeck's six-volume Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch. But in Jesus in Context, Darrell L. Bock and Gregory J. Herrick have identified and compiled into one handy volume the key extrabiblical texts that provide the necessary cultural background for understanding passages in the Gospel narratives. Brief comments from the editors precede each selection, noting its relevance to the biblical text.

Sources quoted include Josephus, Philo, the Mishnah and Talmud, the Old Testament Apocrypha, Eusebius, and classical authors. These excerpts are organized according to the section numbers from Bock's earlier Jesus according to Scripture, although Jesus in Context is designed to be used as a stand-alone resource.


Endorsements

"Students of the Gospels will find this collection invaluable. It will be a crucial tool for those who do not work regularly with ancient Jewish sources and should also prove useful for those who do."--Craig S. Keener, professor of New Testament, Eastern Seminary

"In Jesus in Context, Bock and Herrick have given students of the Gospels an extremely useful reference by sifting through an enormous library of pagan, Jewish, and Christian texts to provide illuminating backgrounds for specific passages. The authors are careful to note the dates of the sources so that the discerning reader may be aware of the relative distance in time between these texts and the New Testament."--Edwin M. Yamauchi, professor of history, Miami University

"How often, when reading a commentary or work on the historical background of a portion of Scripture, have you seen a plethora of references to ancient extrabiblical sources and wondered what they actually said? Few readers, even scholars, have the time to look up many of these, even if they have access to the primary literature. Bock and Herrick have supplied scholars and laypeople alike with an invaluable tool. Jesus in Context introduces and presents the full texts of all the extrabiblical references in Bock's Jesus according to Scripture. One gets almost an entire course in the ancient historical, religious, and philosophical thought outside the Bible that is most relevant to interpreting the Gospels."--Craig L. Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

"The more a person understands the first-century Jewish world, the more easily he or she can understand Jesus and the Gospel writers. Bock and Herrick have given readers one of the quickest and easiest paths into that world, and they have done so by showing systematically how specific Jewish, Greco-Roman, and early Christian texts throw light on the Gospel narratives."--Klyne Snodgrass, Paul W. Brandel Professor of New Testament Studies, North Park Theological Seminary

"Current historical Jesus research rightly emphasizes the importance of the background of Jesus and his followers. Bock and Herrick have assembled the essential material and have presented it in an attractive and accessible format. This book will serve well both student and scholar."--Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia

"This very useful book is full of information for the readers of the Gospels. Jesus in Context matches Gospel texts with interesting parallels from other ancient Jewish and early Christian sources, illuminating the biblical texts. It is indispensable for pastors and students of theology."--Martin Hengel, professor emeritus of New Testament and ancient Judaism, University of Tübingen

"The person who understands the importance of ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman sources to the understanding of the New Testament will value the convenience of the present volume. Here is a judicious compilation of passages, well organized and well indexed, that shed light on the context of the Gospels and thus on Jesus. This book is easy to use and will be a terrific boon to pastors, teachers, students, and church members--indeed to all who might not otherwise have ready access to these varied materials."--Donald A. Hagner, George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary


The Authors

  1. Darrell L. Bock

    Darrell L. Bock

    Darrell L. Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, where he also serves as senior research professor of New Testament studies. He is the author or...

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  2. Gregory J. Herrick

    Gregory J. Herrick

    Gregory J. Herrick (Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) is a researcher and writer with the Biblical Studies Foundation.

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Reviews

"In Jesus in Context, Bock and Herrick have identified and compiled into one handy volume the key extrabiblical texts that provide the necessary cultural background for understanding passages in the Gospel narratives."--Ecumenism

"Bock and Herrick have collected, in a wonderfully concise and affordable volume, a cache of primarily Jewish but also Greco-Roman and early Christian texts. . . . This book is a successful companion volume to Jesus according to Scripture and is recommended for readers of that volume."--Michael Schufer, Review of Biblical Literature

"The book is user-friendly in both its form and content. . . . The quotations of extrabiblical references compiled by the editors provide easy access to invaluable information that sheds light on biblical texts in the Gospels. The significance of this book is summarized succinctly by Craig Blomberg in his endorsement of it: 'How often, when reading a commentary or work on the historical background of a portion of Scripture, have you seen a plethora of references to ancient extrabiblical sources and wondered what they actually said? Few readers, even scholars, have the time to look up many of these, even if they have access to the primary literature. Bock and Herrick have supplied scholars and laypeople alike with an invaluable tool. Jesus in Context introduces and presents the full texts of all the extrabiblical references in Bock's Jesus according to Scripture. One gets almost an entire course in the ancient historical, religious, and philosophical thought outside the Bible that is most relevant to interpreting the Gospels.' I gladly echo this hearty endorsement of the book."--Stephen S. Kim, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"This present volume completes an excellent informal trilogy of books by Darrell L. Bock [with Studying the Historical Jesus and Jesus according to Scripture]. . . . Jesus in Context is unique in covering the Gospels only and in organizing the readings according to the chronological events in the Synoptic Gospels as well as John. Although this is an interesting read, it is also designed as a reference book. Two handy cross-reference guides at the beginning of the book tie each extra-biblical reading with the Gospel passage to which it is pertinent as well as the section of Jesus according to Scripture to which it relates. . . . This is an enlightening and entertaining read. . . . This book is a valuable source tool. It will benefit pastors, students, and lay people desiring more firsthand knowledge of the background of the New Testament."--James R. Wicker, Southwestern Journal of Theology