Written in a readable style, with more detailed interaction with scholarly discussion found in the various excursuses, this commentary draws on the best new insights from a number of disciplines (narratological studies of Luke-Acts, archaeological and social scientific study of the New Testament, rhetorical analysis of Acts, comparative studies in ancient historiography) to provide the reader with the benefits of recent innovative ways of analyzing the text of Acts.
In addition there is detailed attention to major theological and historical issues, including the question of the relationship of Acts to the Pauline letters, the question of early Christian history and how the church grew and developed, the relationship between early Judaism and early Christianity, and the relationship between Christianity and the officials of the Roman Empire.
Acts is seen as a historical monograph with affinities with the approaches of serious Greek historians such as Thucydides and Polybius in terms of methodology, and affinities with some forms of Jewish historiography (including Old Testament history) in terms of content or subject matter.
The book is illustrated with various pictures and charts, which help to bring to light the character and setting of these narratives.
In addition to the usual features of these commentaries, Witherington offers an innovative way of looking at Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon as interrelated documents written at different levels of moral discourse. Colossians is first-order moral discourse (the opening gambit), Ephesians is second-order moral discourse (what one says after the opening salvo to the same audience), and Philemon is third-order moral discourse (what one says to a personal friend or intimate). Witherington successfully analyzes these documents as examples of Asiatic rhetoric, explaining the differences in style from earlier Pauline documents. He further shows that Paul is deliberately engaging in the transformation of existing social institutions.
As always, Witherington's work is scholarly and engaging. With detailed "Closer Look" sections, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians is perfect for the libraries of clergy, biblical scholars, and seminaries.
Written when the fledging Christian faith was experiencing a major crisis during the Jewish war, Mark provides us with the first window on how the life and teachings of Jesus were presented to a largely non-Jewish audience.
According to Witherington, the structure of Mark demonstrates that this Gospel is biographically focused on the identity of Jesus and the importance of knowing who he is--the Christ, the Son of God. This finding reveals that Christology stood at the heart of the earliest Christians' faith. It also shows how important it was to these earliest Christians to persuade others about the nature of Jesus, both as a historical figure and as the Savior of the world.
Skeptical of the trend among many biblical scholars to analyze Paul s short, affectionate letter to the Philippians in light of Greco-Roman letter-writing conventions, Ben Witherington instead looks at Philippians as a masterful piece of long-distance oratory an extension of Paul s oral speech, dictated to a scribe and meant to be read aloud to its recipients. Witherington examines Philippians in light of Greco-Roman rhetorical conventions, identifying Paul s purpose, highlighting his main points and his persuasive strategies, and considering how his original audience would have heard and received Paul s message.
Witherington's distinctive socio-rhetorical approach helps unearth insights that would otherwise remain hidden using only form criticism, epistolary categories, and traditional criticism. Witherington details Thessalonica's place as the "metropolis" of Macedonia, and he carefully unpacks the social situation of Paul and his recipients. Scholars will appreciate the careful analysis and rhetorical insights contained here, while Witherington's clear prose and sensitivity to Paul's ideas make this work ideal for all who desire a useful, readable commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
Ben Witherington first tells how and why the New Testament documents were written and collected and how they came to be known as the New Testament that we have today. He then discusses the main stories and major figures in the New Testament. Witherington looks particularly at the Gospels, examining how and why their stories differ and pointing out what these ancient biographies actually say about Jesus. He also surveys the ways that these stories were told and retold, explaining how this literary development has influenced Christian theology, ethics, and social thought.
At once scholarly and accessible -- it really is written in plain English -- Witheringtonbs guide to the origins and message of the New Testament is eminently suitable as a text for college and seminary students. With each chapter followed by a section called bExercises and Questions for Study and Reflection, b "The New Testament Story" will also prove valuable to individual readers and ideal for church classes and group Bible studies.
scholars recognize that prophetic traditions, expressions, and experiences
stand at the heart of most religions in the ancient Mediterranean world. This
is no less true for the world of Judaism and Jesus. Ben Witherington III offers
an extensive, cross-cultural survey of the broader expressions of prophecy in
its ancient Mediterranean context, beginning with Mari, moving to biblical
figures not often regarded as prophets‒‒Balaam, Deborah, Moses, and Aaron‒‒and
to the apocalyptic seer in postexilic prophecy, showing that no single pattern
describes all prophetic figures. The consequence is that different aspects of
Jesus’s activity touch upon prophetic predecessors: his miracles, on Elijah and
Elisha; his self-understanding as the Son of Man, on Daniel and 1 Enoch; his
warnings of woe and judgment, on the “writing prophets” in Judean tradition;
and his messianic entry into Jerusalem, on Zechariah 9. Witherington also
surveys the phenomenon of apocalyptic prophecy in early Christianity, including
Paul, Revelation, the Didache, Hermas, and the Montanist movement. Jesus the
Seer is a worthy complement to Witherington’s other volume on Jesus, Jesus
the Sage (Fortress Press, 2000).
"This brief guide book is intended to provide the reader with an entrance into understanding the rhetorical analysis of various parts of the NT, the value such studies bring for understanding what is being proclaimed and defended in the NT, and how Christ is presented in ways that would be considered persuasive in antiquity." - from the introduction