Item description for Judaism Before Jesus: The Ideas and Events That Shaped the New Testament World by Anthony J. Tomasino...
Overview IVP Print On Demand Title Turning the page from Malachi to Matthew, we skip a lot of history. In fact, it is something like missing several key episodes in an ongoing television saga. The setting and main plot line are familiar, but new characters have appeared and more recent events and developments are assumed. Did anyone record the episodes we missed? Fortunately a few did. Their reception wasn't always good, and there are annoying cuts and splices. But Anthony J. Tomasino has put together the missing episodes and skillfully retells the story of Judaism before Jesus, from the time of Ezra and Nehemiah to the Herods, and even up to Masada. The result is an entertaining, informative and enlightening retelling of the story of Judaism and the development of the ideas, subplots and characters that shaped the world of Jesus and the first Christians.
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Studio: IVP Academic
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.16" Width: 6" Height: 1.02" Weight: 1.16 lbs.
Release Date Oct 17, 2003
Publisher IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN 0830827307 ISBN13 9780830827305
Availability 0 units.
More About Anthony J. Tomasino
Anthony J. Tomasino (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is a United Methodist pastor and a scholar of ancient Judaism. His other books include Written Upon the Heart: The Ten Commandments for Christians Today (Kregel, 2001).
Reviews - What do customers think about Judaism Before Jesus: The Events & Ideas That Shaped the New Testament World?
A good overview and a serviceable quick reference book Feb 25, 2007
Anthony Thomasino's "Judaism Before Jesus" is a good overview of the historical events that occurred during the Intertestamental Period, but an overview is all that it is. A previous reviewer has already given an in-depth summary of the book (below), so I'll only add a couple of thoughts of my own to the discussions of this book found here.
The most interesting chapter in Thomasino's book is the one that deals with the Persian influence on Judaism from the time of the Babylonian exile onward. I was fascinated by some of the developments in Jewish theology that Thomasino attributes to the influence of Zoroastrianism. I was aware of the similarities between Judaism and Zoroastrianism, but I had not read anything previously about either religion influencing the other one to any great degree. I'm not sure that I'm entirely convinced by some of Thomasino's assertions, because I have not studied this topic much and because these assertions appear to be presented as his personal (though educated) observations, but I am certainly interested in pursuing further study of the ideas he has presented.
As for the rest of the book, it doesn't present anything new or give in-depth information about too many topics; as I said, it's simply a good overview. Frankly, if you have copies of the works of Josephus as well as 1 and 2 Maccabees, then you would do better to read those rather than Thomasino's book as he draws most of his material from these sources and presents it in summary form.
Thomasino does give suggestions for further reading at the end of every chapter, which I always appreciate (and I will most likely read some of the works he lists). This book will probably serve me well as a quick reference; however, with the exception of the chapter on the Persian influence, it's a bit long on well-known facts and short on ideas.
Just what I was looking for Jun 30, 2004
I found Judaism Before Jesus to be exactly what I needed. Having just finished my fifth year in BSF in which we studied the history of Israel and the minor prophets and looking forward to studying Acts and the epistles, I wanted to know more about the history and culture from 525BC to the time of Jesus. JBJ provided the background. It is very enjoyable reading with many text boxes about subjects such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient writing, Greek military supremacy that were particularly interesting. I'd recommend this book for someone who is interested in gaining cultural context for studying the New Testament but doesn't want a seminary course on the subject or read through thirty footnotes per chapter.
Good for laymen, but . . . Jun 22, 2004
With so many good treatments of Second Temple Judaism, the Intertestamental Period, and New Testament Backgrounds, every new author in these areas feels the need to justify another offering. So it is with Tomasino's handling of the same material which he styles as a description of what Judaism was like before and during the New Testament Period. He mentions that he originally conceived of his book as "an introduction that assumes almost no prior knowledge of the subject matter. It's an introduction for the uninitiated" intended for "Christian lay readers" (7,8). His editor, however, envisioned the book also as a text for classroom use and for scholars, so he added some textboxes and more documentation (8). In this reviewer's opinion, the editor should have left well enough alone and Tomasino's goal would have been achieved. As it stands, however, the book could serve well as an introduction for laymen, but it falls far short of being of great value to the student or scholar.
Not only does such an effort invite comparison to the many other standard works on this subject (Schurer and Grabbe, e.g.) the book that comes to mind most readily is the one quickly becoming a standard volume, The Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament by Julius Scott (Baker Academic, 2000). To be fair to Tomasino, the above books are directed to a more academic readership, but some of the expressed targets for Tomasino's book are classroom and scholarly readers. So some comparison is justified.
Tomasino covers the basic historical facts of the period leading up to the New Testament in a serviceable way. The book is well-written and easy to follow. A "Glossary and Pronunciation Guide" (329-336) is quite helpful to the beginner. The "textboxes" every few pages offer some additional information to the more serious reader. I was particularly impressed with the box on "Chronomessianism" (292,293). For a lay introduction, it is good. The reader who wants to be exposed to the issues presently under discussion in the subject, however, will be disappointed. The textboxes add information that a lay reader should also know.
Although suggested reading lists appear at the end of each chapter and include many of the standard works, I was shocked to see what books and subjects were omitted. For example, unless I missed it, Scott's influential work does not make a single appearance in the entire volume! An "Author Index" would also have been helpful to make sure I didn't miss his name! Not only was Scott ignored, but recent writers who have written extensively on the theological worldview of Second Temple Judaism (James Dunn and N.T. Wright, for example) are also ignored. Now one may respond that Dunn and Wright have not written so much about the events of this period as they have about the ideas in this period. But look again at the subtitle of this book: The Events and Ideas That Shaped the New Testament World. Whatever one thinks of Dunn's and Wright's perspective, they should not be overlooked simply because of the massive influence they have wielded. Even lay readers need to be aware to some extent of the currents of thinking swirling through this subject in the last two decades.
Did Tomasino fulfill his goal? If you are looking for an introduction to the events of the period that shaped the Judaism Before Jesus, this book will serve you well. If you are looking for an introduction to the ideas of the period that shaped the Judaism Before Jesus, then you better keep looking.