Book Review: The World of the New Testament -- By: Anonymous
Book Review: The World of the New Testament
by E.M. Blaiklock
Reviewed by Ron Zuck
Unlike other religious literature, the Bible is a record of God working in history. While the Bible does contain parables and illustrations, it does not contain myth. Holy men of old moved by the Holy Spirit spoke and wrote about actual events with real people and places. However, we of the 20th century often fail to realize the full impact and significance of the Scripture because we do not possess a good understanding of the times in which the Bible was written.
The World of the New Testament by E.M. Blaiklock was written to help rectify this situation. Blaiklock has successfully integrated many fields of study presenting a concise panorama of the centuries before and after Christ. During these centuries, three predominant cultures interacted with each other: the Roman, the Greek, and the Jewish. The fulness of time came and Christ was born.
While it is impossible to present an exhaustive picture of the New Testament world in 128 pages, Blaiklock does give a comprehensive presentation. In eleven chapters, he paints detailed pictures of historical facts so that even the emotion can be felt. These chapters illuminate our understanding of the common people; travel of the first century; the centers of civilization; the cultural world of the Roman, the Greek, and the Jew; the use of government in society and the roles played by Pharisee, Sadducee and Essene.
Throughout the book, Blaiklock highlights well-known people, places and events. You are there with Paul on the Areopagus; in the shadow of Athene, patron goddess of Athens, a statue so colossal, sailors could see the sun’s glint from 40 miles at sea. Jesus’ statement “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die” takes on new brilliance as Blaiklock makes a parallel with Greek thought.
While very different from our modern world, the New Testament world was also much the same. The difference is technological; philosophically and morally much is the same. There is an arrogance today about human accomplishment that stems from Greek roots, and a moral decadence which parallels Rome. In his final chapter, “Lessons for Today,” Blaiklock cites three specific areas which should be of utmost concern to Christians.
First is the loss of Christian consensus among the populous. As in the first century, modern society is indifferent and even hostile to the Gospel and a Christian-influenced culture. Second is the city. Cities dominate many aspects of culture and determine trends. Paul not only recognized the importance of cities, but established the Gospel in strategic centers. Third is the danger of adaptation by the church to non-Christian influences of culture. The Epistles fore...
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