Daniel Lynwood Smith orients readers of the New Testament to its historical and cultural settings, introducing the cast of characters, and illuminating key concepts by exploring their use in ancient texts. Smith includes quotations from many primary sources including Josephus, Tacitus, the Qumran Community, Pliny the Younger, and other carefully chosen texts from lesser-known ancient sources. These texts are all carefully woven together with commentary, to provide a narrative framework for the material and guide students through the text. A glossary of complex terms is provided, to make everything as clear as possible for the newcomer to New Testament studies.
This integrative approach both introduces the key sources to the reader and elaborates on their significance for understanding the New Testament. In an admirably concise format Smith is able to cover the military-political history of Israel-Palestine, the messianic movements of Second Temple Judaism, the ancient practice of crucifixion and the development of the Christian canon. Through immersion in these ancient Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman texts and contexts, contemporary readers take a step closer to experiencing the New Testament with first-century eyes and ears.