Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
GTJ 4:1 (Spr 83) p. 131
The Archeology of the New Testament: The Mediterranean World of the Early Christian Apostles, by Jack Finegan. Boulder, CO: Westview: London: Croom Helm, 1981. Pp. xxxii, 250. $36.50.
Twelve years after the appearance of Jack Finegan’s most useful volume, The Archeology of the New Testament: The Life of Jesus and the Beginning of the Early Church (Princeton University, 1969), NT scholars are welcoming the publication of his companion volume, this time with new publishers. The format of this second volume is less grand than the first, has 23 fewer pages, and half as many illustrations and maps. Nevertheless it is a handsome book, is easy to read, and has an improved bibliographic apparatus.
The book is structured around the journeys of Paul, although other apostles are discussed in the chapter on chronological history. The front matter of the book includes a ten-page Alphabetical List of Ancient Sources, with a paragraph devoted to each entry such as Arculf, Eusebius, Homer, Marcion, and Xenophon. This section is an innovative and much-appreciated tool, one that is absent in most books or consigned to an appendix. In the first chapter on Sources, Finegan deals with the Book of Acts and its value as a historical document. He contrasts the traditions of F. C. Baur and William Ramsay, favoring the latter’s opinion that Acts is an essentially reliable source. He places the writing of the book no later than the middle of the first century; in fact, he agrees with F. F. Bruce that it was written in Rome toward the end of the two years of Paul’s imprisonment there.
A chapter on Chronological History includes a discussion of the date of Jesus’ death and the milestones in the careers of Paul and Peter. With remarkable clarity Finegan deals with many complicated data including the Vatican, the Ostian Way, and the catacombs, although it is not always obvious why they are part of a chapter on chronological history.
The remaining six chapters trace the missionary journeys of Paul, exploring one by one the major towns and cities that figure in the biblical narrative. The reader should be prepared to find very little here of the archaeology of Syria-Palestine. The only Levantine sites that receive substantive attention are Caesarea, Damascus, and Antioch on the Orontes. This is disappointing to the reviewer because Palestinian archaeology received uneven and incomplete treatment in Finegan’s first volume. We now have a two-volume set on the archaeology of the New Testament and virtually no systematic discussion of Qumran, Masada, Umm el-Jimal, Petra, Pella, Meiron, Baalbek, or Palmyra. There is no substantive coverage of the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Nag Hammadi codices.
GTJ 4:1 (Spr 83) p. 132
Click here to subscribe