""To many students of the New Testament the environment into which the Christian gospel was born is an unknown world. They read it only in the light of their own time and interpret it by their own experience. In reality, its several books were written for a culture that has long since passed out of existence and for modes of thought that are not remembered or understood by the modern world, except for professional scholars. That culture, however, bears a remarkable parallelism to our own in many ways; and while its terminology is very different, its basic philosophical principles still survive. ""This volume will clarify many obscure allusions and illuminate a number of difficult texts in the New Testament. It will provide a better knowledge of the Palestinian background of the life of Christ and the church of the first century, as well as aid in understanding the struggle of the church as it confronted the complex social and religious world around it. It should assist any reader as he/she attempts to interpret the nature and problems of the present church in light of its past problems."" --from the preface Priscilla (Patten) Benham (1950-2000) earned her PhD from Drew University and served as President of Patten University from 1983 to 2000. Rebecca (Patten) Skaggs (1950-) also earned her PhD from Drew University. She served as Academic Dean of Patten University from 1977 to 2003, where she continues to serve as Priscilla Benham Chair of New Testament Studies and Professor of New Testament and Greek.