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Backgrounds of Early Christianity

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  391 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Widely used as a textbook since its publication in 1987, this work provides an analytical and systematic introduction to the Roman, Greek, and Jewish political, social, literary, and religious backgrounds necessary for a historical understanding of the New Testament in the early church.
Paperback, 632 pages
Published August 1st 1993 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published September 1st 1987)
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Martha Davidson
Over the past few years, I have used Everett Ferguson's Backgrounds of Early Christianity as a general reference for my studies of Margaret Fuller and the American Transcendentalist movement. I finally decided to read the textbook from cover to cover. Quite a reading experience! The book provides a wealth of information on the Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultural background to Christianity, examining the philosophical and religious backgrounds that are so important to the Transcendentalists, but al ...more
Tyler Eason
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helpful reference book on a lot of aspects of life, culture, and customs of the period surrounding the NT.
Philip Taylor
I have read portions of this book. It has great detail but will probably put most readers to sleep. This is history written in a way to turn me off history. I will use this as a reference only.
Mei Yue
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Nowadays we are able to go to church and sit down comfortably to attend our mass. But to remember our former christian brothers and sisters who had to confront much adversities in order to reach God's gospels with their stern faith, we are very lucky that we just have to go to our church on Sundays without compacting the paganism which was strongly advocated in those days of Greek and Roman culture, with the Roman emperors' strong deprecation on the idea of Christianity.
As I am still reading the
...more
Jim
Mar 08, 2012 rated it liked it
This book took me months to get through. While it has a wealth of information, it's basically a textbook, and it reads that way, which makes it easy to put down and pick it up later - but also difficult to wade through.

It covers all aspects of the several hundred years around the first century Christians, giving background on society and culture, other religions, and the philosophy of the day. All in all, a worthwhile read, but you've really got to want to get through it.

Kent Maitland
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Positive:
Very well-reasearched discussion; Rich bibliography for further study; Comprehensive analysis of the overall subject matter.

Negative:
A seemingly archaic and difficult read for even the students of history; Correlation with Biblical material scarce at times (though not completely absent).

Bottom Line:
As a book to read from cover to cover, one finds a daunting task; But as a reference for enhancing one's Bible study, there is much to anticipate.
Jennifer
This was a required text for my Paganism class but I loved it! Many of the later sources are from the bible and it made me understand the roots of christainity and Judism. (wasn't awsome enough to make me get up early for church!)
Margaret Sankey
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly documented with the latest (as of 2003) scholarship, this is the comprehensive survey of the Early Christian world, from the pagan background to the many gnostic gospels and Church controversies.
Ken
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So essential to add books like these to your diet if you really want to be able to digest the scriptures and remove some ambiguity and see it as it is, true and alive and set in real time and space. Great book.
Jon R. Jordan
Incredibly helpful and accessible background studies for early Christian works.
Susan
Apr 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A good reference book
Michael Chhangur
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
There's a lot of murkiness when Christians start talking about the practices and beliefs of the ancients. I use this one often when I want a scholarly answer.
Bruce Morton
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everett Ferguson has a command of the ancient sources and a thoroughness that makes his study a high water mark. Nothing better exists.
Jeff Noble
Backgrounds of Early Christianity by Everett Ferguson (?)
Tim
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A basic reference that I return to time and again.
William M. M.
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A vast compendium of knowledge that never gets dull. Really puts you in the first century world.
Ken Smith
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-seminary
Ferguson is very thorough and gives readers a helpful view into the culture of the period he covers; an appropriately exhaustive text. It is very helpful for Roman Civ and Biblical students alike.
Jonathan Huggins
Very profitable for understanding the world of the New Testament. highly recommended.
Michael
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
There's a lot of murkiness when Christians start talking about the practices and beliefs of the ancients. I use this one often when I want a scholarly answer.
R. Fox
As good as it gets in a one-volume background to the NT.
Joshua Centanni
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Kind of a bear to sit down and read straight through, but I think it's a great reference source. I'm sure the bibliographies at the end of each section will be useful in the future.
Thomas Reeves
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Very Helpful.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Backgrounds of Early Christianity by Everett Ferguson 1 4 Aug 07, 2012 10:41PM  
  • New Testament Background: Selected Documents: Revised and Expanded Edition
  • Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament
  • Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek
  • Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament
  • Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
  • A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament & Other Early Christian Literature
  • Greek New Testament
  • The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background & Early Christianity
  • The Book of the Acts
  • Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel
  • Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity
  • A History of Israel
  • The Theology of Paul the Apostle
  • The Letters of John: (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)
  • Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship
  • An Introduction to the New Testament
  • A History of Christianity Volume 2: Reformation to the Present (AD 1500 - AD 1975)
  • The Historical Figure of Jesus
“Remember that you are an actor in a drama of such sort as the author chooses — if short, then in a short one; if long, then in a long one. If it be his pleasure that you should enact a poor man, see that you act it well; or a cripple, or a ruler, or a private citizen. For this is your business — to act well the given part; but to choose it belongs to another.” 0 likes
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