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Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus [Paperback]

By Joachim Jeremias (Author), C. H. Cave (Translator) & F. H. Cave (Translator)
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Item description for Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus by Joachim Jeremias, C. H. Cave & F. H. Cave...

If there's anything you want to know about first-century Jerusalem, you'll find it here! Jeremias discusses industries, commerce, foreign influence, economic classes, social status, and much more. His wide range of sources include Talmudic material, Josephus, Philo, Qumranic material, and recent archaeological information.

Publishers Description
An Investigation into Economic and Social Conditions during the New Testament Period, including: Economic conditions in the city of Jerusalem, economic status, social status, and the maintenance of racial purity.

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Item Specifications...

Format: Unabridged
Studio: Fortress Press
Pages   405
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 4.75" Height: 7.25"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1975
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800611365  
ISBN13  9780800611361  

Availability  93 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 09:50.
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More About Joachim Jeremias, C. H. Cave & F. H. Cave

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Joachim Jeremias was born in 1900.

Joachim Jeremias has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Fortress Classics in Biblical Studies
  2. Study in Bible Theology

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > Biblical History & Culture

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Reviews - What do customers think about Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus?

A must have book  Feb 9, 2008
Okay, so it's not written in the chatty style that students prefer, but this book is really the best tool out there to provide a background for New Testament studies. The author has no agenda, no liberal or conservative spin. He has scoured the Mishnah and the Talmudic writings, which would otherwise take years to do, and crystallized them into a succinct and convenient package. Modern analyzes of ancient Palestine are generally based on modern sociological theories, and inevitably they disappoint, but Jeremias' material is derived solely from relevant source texts, and I know which I prefer. Anyone serious about understanding the society into which Jesus was born ought to purchase this book.
Tough work, but worth the ride  Jan 2, 2008
You know, I read quickly, but it took me weeks to finish this book.

Because even for a fast reader, this is tough, tough going.

But Jeremias is always worthwhile, and this book is no exception. What he gives us here is a mental picture of the Jerusalem area (which would have included "suburban" areas around the city) in the first century, around the time of Christ. It's not an idealized picture of the city, or a prettied up version, but a landscape grounded in reality, and using source documents to flesh out what the city would have looked like, and what it would have been like to have lived in the city at that time.

Which is what makes it tough going: because Jeremias refuses to do the lazy way of writing such a history, and he deals with the hard questions such as whether certain numbers may be exaggerated, or the biases of various source writers. But I would encourage anyone with a desire to know the time of Jesus better to devote the hard work necessary to going through this book. You will grow in your appreciation not only for the New Testament documents, but for the Lord who makes it important to learn about this city at that time.

I do not agree with everything Jeremias says. For example, he obviously thinks that the gospel writers could err, and John 10.35 and 2 Timothy 3.16 make this an impossible means of dealing with a problem text. But don't let this dissuade you from using Jeremias' invaluable work.

My one other disagreement is that I feel the author on occasion uses examples from 19th and early 20th century Palestine as arguing points about an issue, and the conditions and times from the intervening almost 2000 years make me uncomfortable with such arguments except as, perhaps, tangential illustrations. If the author were writing now (the book is some 75 years old), he might use such illustrations differently.
Excellent resource of information, with one major caveat  Apr 15, 2007
I absolutely loved reading this book. It really places you into the era of the New Testament period. It covers a lot of ground. You will not find much discussion here about this or that New Testament verse to dramatically alter your perspective. Rather, you get more of the background and "feel" for that period.

I highly recommend this if the reader is aware of one very important concern (hence 4 not 5 stars). Jeremias, like other scholars of his time (and before), had a tendency to uncritically accept material from the Talmud as reflecting the thought and activity of Judaism of the New Testament period. However, shortly after this book appeared, there was a bit of a "shake up" in New Testament and Judaic studies regarding how reliable the Talmud reflects that earlier period.

The Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds were completed between AD 400-600, centuries after the time of Jesus (and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70). The teachings of the Rabbi's were passed along from generation to generation primarily in oral form, from about 100 BC until the Rabbinic teachings were first committed to writing around AD 200, in the form of the Mishnah. The Talmud is composed of the Mishnah, but also the Gemera which is the commentary on the Mishnah. It reflects Rabbinic teachings since the writing of the Mishnah, but also preserves some earlier teachings as well. So in the Talmud, what we have are some teachings that go back to the time of Christ along side later teachings of the Rabbis that may not reflect Judaism from the time of Jesus.

Most of the older works on Judaism and the New Testament (including the popular "The Life and Times of Jesus Messiah" by Alfred Edersheim) are marred by the uncritical reliance on the Talmud. These include scholarly works like Strack & Billerbeck's "Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Midrash" (that's an English translation of the title-this book was never translated into English), and Schurer's "A History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ." Both are books which Jeremias cites often. To illustrate my comments about the shift in perspective by modern scholars, Schurer's series was completely rewritten by Vermes, Black and others and is now an excellent resource for this time period, giving a more rigorous and reliable picture (but has its own biases, as some scholars have pointed out). I've read the first two of the three volumes. They overlap with Jeremias' book, but are ridiculously expensive ($100 per volume - I got them 25 years ago and they were cheaper). Save yourself a bundle and get Jeremias' book! (unless you are a biblical scholar, then you'll need the new Schurer).

Today, to gain a picture of Judaism of the New Testament period, scholars rely on documents that came from the period closer to the time of Jesus. 1) the Pseudepigraphal writings, 2) Apocrypha/Deuteronomical works, 3) the Dead Sea Scrolls, 4) Flavius Josephus, 5) the Mishnah, 6) the Tosefta, and 7) Philo of Alexandria. Fortunately, Jeremias draws from all these earlier sources, too. Also, there are other Jewish writings like the Targums and Midrash that represent later sources, and which earlier scholars uncritically applied to New Testament times. Jeremias uses these later sources as well.

The critical reader of Jeremias' book can easily sift through the sources I mentioned by noticing how he cites them. If he puts a capital M in front of a citation (M. Yeb. 1:2), he's citing from a tractate of the Mishnah, and capital T means Tosefta, a lowercase j means Jerusalem Talmud, and lowercase b is for Babylonian Talmud.

With that all said, Jeremias' book will enlighten you, but be careful about taking everything with firm conviction. Don't use this kind of material in doctrinal disputes, or to firm up an interpretation of a NT verse-it's just not that reliable (the same must be said of most earlier works). But taken as a whole, the material in Jeremias' book gives a good "feel" for the era. It provides good background information to help us read the New Testament outside of our 21st century western perspective. Given this caveat, I want to assure you that there is very little in this book that will steer you wildly off course, but do not assume we can know with confidence everything Jeremias' says about that period.
This is a great book  Nov 16, 2002
Everything I have read by this author has been great for understanding the historical context of the biblical texts. This book is especially good because it covers so much of the background information from every aspect of life. If you are serious about getting more out of your bible studying or you are in ministry, then you really should read this book. This author's works are very widely used in by scholars and are consider "classic" works my many. This book is his most widely used/quoted/referenced work. The only problem you will find with this author is finding the books you want. I would say snap up this and any other of his books you can find.
A good if awkward tool for your Bible study toolbox.  Jan 12, 2002
Raise your hand out there if you, when you read one of the Gospels, have a mental image of the scene that comes straight from a movie. You read about Jesus healing some lepers, and in your mind you see Ben-Hur's mother and sister. Get to Exodus 14 and there's Charlton Heston chewing up the landscape.

One of the central questions used in Bible Study is "What did it mean to the original readers?". Once we know the context that the text originally took place in we start to examine it to see how it applies to us today. There is a chance that we can go off track if we subconsciously place the narration of the Bible over a Hollywood backdrop. The Holy Spirit is there to help us with our understanding, but God expects us to use the tools available to us too. Enter Joachim Jeremias' survey of the city and countryside that Jesus walked during the 1st century. It isn't the place that we see on the late show.

Jeremias opens the book with a survey of the economy of Jerusalem. We look at the various industries; household goods, food supplies, luxury items, and construction. There is an explanation of the loose guild system, as well as that major employer of the city, the Temple. He goes on to explain the commerce of Jersusalem, both in terms of goods in and out as well as people in and out. The people examined include not only the large number of pilgrims that would arrive for the three annual festivals, but also the Roman military and administrative cadres.

The next section looks at class differences in the Holy Land, spending some time with rich, middle class, and poor. Amongst the poor there is special attention paid to slaves and the subsidized. The discussion of the last lends a lot to an understanding of the first half of the Acts of the Apostles.

After that look at overall social stratification, four groups with special positions in the city are looked at. The Priesthood, of which there was a huge number associated the Temple, is looked at first. Finally, a good explanation of the difference between high priests and chief priests, weekly and daily courses. The lay nobility of the land are looked at with a bit less detail, followed by two groups all readers of the New Testament are acquainted with, The Pharisees and the Scribes. They may not be quite who you think they are. Jeremias reports some surpising things about both.

Having discussed class status and several social power groups, Jeremias turns to a major concern of the elite in Jesus' time, racial purity. There is a long discussion of whom the elite considered legitimate Israelites, illegitimate Israelites, the place of Gentiles both free and slave, Samaritans, and women. Lots of surprises here. One example that astounded me, the senior priests not only were restricted to marrying within the body of legitimate Israelites, and restricted to marrying only virgins, but "virgin" was defined much more strictly than a 21st century reader might imagine.

Ok, let's say I've been persuasive,and you agree with me that Jeremias' book might be a good tool for your Bible study toolbox. Why do I say it is awkward? Apparently Jeremias wrote this for the serious Bible student, and not just for seminarians. However, the serious student he wrote for was German (orginal title "Jerusalem zur Zeit Jesu") and apparently serious Bible students in Germany like lots and lots of footnotes, endnotes, and citations. Nothing wrong with that, it means if you have questions about anything Jeremias writes, you can go to the source material and check it yourself. For most American Bible students, the style of writing can be a shock at first. Example, from page 90, discussing Herod's court:

"The Mishnah sets the limit at eighteen wives (M. Sanh. ii.4), and the Talmud gives twenty-four and forty-eight, both figures representing Tannaitic and so ancient teaching (b. Sanh. 21a bar.)."

A fine tongue-twister, eh? Despite the readablity issue, though, this really is a fine book to refer to when reading the Gospels and Acts, and to a lesser extent the Epistles. After reading Jeremias' book, you will have a much better understanding of just how much Jesus upset the status quo with what He said and what He did.


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