Perspective on the World of Jesus

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Into His Own is designed as a tool for the historical study of Christian scriptures. Since the works in the New Testament were composed in implicit & often explicit dialog with first century champions of Jewish tradition, the bulk of the passages included here have been excerpted from works written by Jewish authors, especially those composed after the Hebrew scriptures that can be found in any Christian "Old Testament." But there are also selections from non-Jewish sources that help bring the writings of Christian authors into a clearer cultural perspective.

The world in which Jesus lived & out of which Christianity emerged was not simply Jewish, but rather a complex cultural cauldron in which the ideologies, social standards & politics of Jews & non-Jews interacted, often with explosive results. One cannot properly understand the composition of the by-product of these explosions that we call "Christianity" in isolation from the elements & catalysts that precipitated its formation.

Like any chemical reaction, however, few of the elements that went into the creation of Christianity --- the events, ideas & values that shaped the mindset of early Christians & Jews --- can now be retrieved in their pristine pre-Christian form, since they & the world in which they were preserved were themselves impacted by the cultural explosion that produced Christianity. Some important Jewish texts, such as the works of Josephus & the Pseudepigrapha were preserved, copied---and in some cases edited---only by later Christian  scribes. Others, such as the rabbinic Talmud & biblical commentaries, were committed to writing only after the composition of the Christian scriptures. So, these passages should not be naÔvely interpreted as direct sources of Christian tradition. But as records of those who did not endorse Jesus, they offer modern interpreters of the New Testament a historical gateway into the world with which Jesus, his supporters & early Christian writers interacted.

To access the contents of this e-text click on the name of topical file.
Red numbered pericopes indicate texts in primary language as well as translation.


Political Climate pericopes   Social Climate pericopes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes   1- 6   Judean-Samaritan Feud   56-61
Maccabean Revolt   7-11   Pharisees & Sadducees   62-75
Hasmonean Regime 12-16   Essenes & Dead Sea Scrolls   76-85
Rise of Antipater & Sons 17-20   Baptism: Water & Spirit   86-94
Herod's Reign of Terror 21-28   Rabbinic Wisdom  95-110
Uprisings after Herod 29-33   Prayer & Piety 111-126
Galilee under Antipas 34-38   Food & Fellowship 127-136
Crises from Pilate to Caligula 39-44   Purity & Social Relations 137-153
Demagogues and Despots 45-50   Sacred Days & Seasons 154-168
Revolt against Rome 50-55   Sin & Justice 169-186
    Jesus & Christians 187-194

Intellectual Climate
Cultural Climate
Scribes & Sages 195-197   Rhetorical Chreiai 314-326
Targum & Midrash 198-217   Possession & Exorcism 327-340
Messianic Exegesis 218-232  


bronze coin issued by Pontius Pilate in 30 CE

New Covenant Eschatology 233-246  
Time & Eternity 247-260  
Rabbinic Parables 261-267  
Apocalyptic Speculation 268-284  
Philosophy & Allegory 285-307  
Samaritan Theology 308-313  


Who was That?   What is That?
Josephus   Map: Land of Israel in 1st c. CE 
The Hasmonean Dynasty   Map: Hellenistic World in 310 BCE
The House of Herod   Historic Sites
The House of Caesar   Dead Sea Scrolls
The House of Ptolemy   Rabbinic Texts & Tradition
The House of Seleucus   Authors & Works
Macedonian Rulers   Words & Format
Roman Rulers    
Personae in Rabbinic Tradition    


Perspective on the World of Jesus

with new translations from primary texts

Copyright © 1999-2023 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website 
OCLC World catalog no. 62046512

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