The World of Jesus
Dr. William H. Marty
Dr. Marty wrote this book to give the reader an historical summary of the history of Israel between the time at the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, a period of about 400 years. He discusses the times of the Persians, the Greeks, the Jews, and the Romans and provides a timeline at the beginning of each chapter with highlights of each period. Many of these times were eras of brutality, power struggles, hostility, paranoia, and chaos. His sources, for the most part, are Biblical, but much of the history is based on the writings of Flavius Josephus.
The cast of characters is huge – and at some points, very confusing to the reader. I found myself wishing for a chart of family relationships to help me along. Because this is a summary, the movement is fast paced from one historical event and ruler to another. I appreciated the special notes that gave more details on certain characters or events that were mentioned along the way.
Perhaps the parts of the books I gained most from were the detailed chart comparing Sadducees and Pharisees and the clarification between the many generations of Herods. The most confusing chapters were early on concerning the Persians and the Maccabees.
The author provides discussion questions at the end of each chapter so that this would be a fine study book for a group. The comprehensive index was also quite helpful and would be a good reference tool for future studies.
This is definitely a slow read because of the historical nature of the book.
(This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.)