There were a handful of books in seminary I used in every class and often. This months recommendation is one of them. J. Julius Scott Jr.’s Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament (Man did I ever put this book in a lot of bibliographies).
This book comes highly recommended for seminary students, but I want to recommend it for all Christians. If one of our keys in understanding the Bible is context, then every Christian needs to read, if not own, multiple books on the time period to understand the references, the people, the land, and the context as a whole. Jewish Backgrounds is the kind of book a person needs to read once and then keep handy as a reference.
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Scott breaks the book into sections that make sense, while also making it easy to find what you are looking for.
- The Background and Setting of Intertestamental Judaism
- The Crises and Responses of Intertestamental Judaism
- The Religious Thought of Intertestamental Judaism: The Background of Christian Customs and Controversies.
Each one of those sections has multiple sub-sections that are worth reading, understanding, and remembering. This is a great book and it will provide much depth of understanding of the culture and surroundings Jesus was born into.