Review of Books / Journal for the Study of Judaism 42 (2011) 83-133 133 Peoples of the New Testament World: An Illustrated Guide . By William A. Simmons. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008. Pp. 352. Hardback. £21.99. ISBN 978- 1-56563-877-8. The title of the book aptly describes its contents—it recounts in considerably detail the various people groups one encounters while reading the New Testament. The basic premise of the author is that the earthly life of Jesus was not lived out in a vacuum; rather, he was a child of his times and his thinking and message was shaped, inﬂuenced and moulded by the ideological climate of his day. His minis- try was interactive and his life was dominated by inter-personal relationships. Wil- liam Simmons’ purpose is to bridge the twenty ﬁrst century reader of the New Testament’s world with the world of Jesus and his disciples. The author paints an intricate tapestry of the people who make up the world of the New Testament. He does this in twenty chapters. After an introductory sec- tion (chapter 1), he uses the remaining eighteen chapters to sketch the fundamen- tal nature, beliefs and teachings of the Pharisees (chapter 2), Zealots (chapter 5), Samaritans (chapter 9), Hellenists (chapter 12), Charlatans, Exorcists and Magi- cians (chapter 13) Centurions (chapter 16), Greek Philosophers (chapter 18) and Slaves and Freed Persons (chapter 19) to randomly name some of the people groups examined. He pulls together all these threads in a concise and lucid conclu- sion (chapter 20). Every chapter ends with a little summary which recapitulates the salient features of the chapter. Every chapter about these people groups is accompanied by vibrantly colored, glossy photographs of related themes, as well as maps and diagrams. His informa- tion is based on an examination of relevant primary ancient documents and a dialogue with some of the latest ﬁndings in New Testament scholarship. The informal and colorful nature of this volume makes it extremely user-friendly and easy to reading yet deceptively informative. It contains a substantial bibliography thereby making it a very useful reference work. This particular style gives the reader the freedom of either reading it through in sequence, or by picking and choosing a speciﬁc chapter. The only “glitch” in the work interestingly is no fault of the author’s. It has to do with the publisher. On pages 36-37 there is a repetition of almost three para- graphs which make up a whole page of the same text. This printing error is most unfortunate. Notwithstanding, The People of the New Testament: An Illustrated Guide ought to be on the bookshelves of teachers, students and preachers of the New Testament in order to obtain a better grasp of the world in which Jesus lived and the people with whom he interacted, thereby enhancing ones overall under- standing of the Scriptures. Mark Jason The Methodist Church The Gambia © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI: 10.1163/157006311X544742
Journal for the Study of Judaism – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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