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Dictionary of New Testament Background
Edited by Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter

0830817808 Retail Price: $60.00
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Format: Hardcover, 328pp.
ISBN: 9780830817801
Publisher: Intervarsity Press
Pub. Date: February 1992

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About the Editors
Table of Contents
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From The Publisher:

The Dictionary of New Testament Background joins the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters and the Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments as the fourth in a landmark series of reference works on the Bible. In a time when our knowledge of the ancient Mediterranean world has grown by leaps and bounds, this volume sets out for readers the wealth of Jewish and Greco-Roman background that should inform our reading and understanding of the New Testament and early Christianity. The Dictionary of New Testament Background takes full advantage of the flourishing study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and offers individual articles focused on the most important scrolls. In addition, the Dictionary encompasses the fullness of second-temple Jewish writings, whether pseudepigraphic, rabbinic, parables, proverbs, histories or inscriptions. Articles abound on aspects of Jewish life and thought, including family, purity, liturgy and messianism. The full scope of Greco-Roman culture is displayed in articles ranging across language and rhetoric, literacy and book culture, religion and cults, honor and shame, patronage and benefactors, travel and trade, intellectual movements and ideas, and ancient geographical perspectives.

No other reference work presents so much in one place for students of the New Testament. Here an entire library of scholarship is made available in summary form. The Dictionary of New Testament Background can stand alone or work in concert with one or more of its companion volumes in the series. Written by acknowledged experts in their fields, this wealth of knowledge of the New Testament era is carefully aimed at the needs of contemporary students of the New Testament. And its full bibliographies and cross-references to other volumes in the series will make it the first book to reach for in any investigation of the New Testament in its ancient setting.


  • encompasses the full scope of Greco-Roman culture
  • contains bibliographies and cross-references to other
  • volumes in the series
  • written by acknowledged experts in their fields
  • fourth volume in a landmark Bible reference series


"The Dictionary of New Testament Background—the last of four dictionaries on the New Testament--is the climax of the series because in this field there is the greatest need of additional information for understanding the New Testament better. Written by acknowledged scholars, many with international reputations, it will be a necessary aid for scholars as well as pastors, teachers and lay people interested in the New Testament and its message. Especially helpful are its carefully selected bibliographies. The reader will be surprised and delighted by the richness of its learned, reliable and interesting content."
—Martin Hengel, University of Tübingen.

"In the wake of several other fine dictionary efforts, we now have in hand the Dictionary of the New Testament Background from InterVarsity Press. It provides one stop shopping on a host of background issues with up-to-date bibliographies and a coterie of the top scholars writing in their areas of speciality. For anyone wanting to set the New Testament in its proper historical, social, literary and theological contexts, this volume is a must. Clean out the old leaven of outdated background books and put this one on your shelf."
—Ben Witherington III, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Out of context a text may be manipulated to denote something unimaginable to the author. That has happened to the New Testament authors, especially over the past two hundred years. Texts about love were interpreted to generate hate. The DNTB will help all who are interested in the original meaning of a New Testament text to comprehend the original context and become a more reliable interpreter of the sacred. The DNTB has a wide range of subjects and most are discussed by leading experts. I recommend it." James H. Charlesworth, Princeton Theological Seminary "This, the fourth in the series of IVP dictionaries of aspects of the New Testament, supplements the first three in an essential manner by providing space for detailed discussions of the historical, social, religious and literary context of the early church. Written in many cases by scholars who are internationally recognized authorities on the specific topics covered, these essays cover the ground clearly, succinctly and yet comprehensively, and provide adequate references and bibliography for students to proceed further. The importance of context and background for understanding texts cannot be overemphasized, but there is a danger of simply distilling out the information most directly relevant to a given text and thereby giving a skewed impression of the whole; this is a danger that is avoided by the present volume, which is much more holistic in its approach. Students will bless IVP for this welcome tool for study and pray for the timely appearance of similar volumes devoted to the Old Testament."
—I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen

"The breadth and scope of the dictionary on the one hand, and the depth of scholarship demonstrated on both small and large entries are notably impressive, and it is clear that everything that anyone might wish to know about the background of the New Testament is to be found in this massive work. Not only does it deserve an important place with the other encyclopedic dictionaries in the IVP series, but it will hold a unique place among all dictionaries of this kind. More power to IVP for this bold undertaking, and salutes and best wishes for continued production and success with the entire project."
—David Noel Freedman, University of California, San Diego

"Where would you go to find a succinct overview about marriage, sex and the family in the New Testament world? Or a brief introduction to any book of the apocrypha? Or a description of a particular philosophy or religion that competed with Christianity in the first century? Or the most important historical and cultural developments that led to the Hellenization of Israel? Or a brief description of the city of Corinth? These and numerous related topics are all addressed in IVP's new blockbuster--Dictionary of New Testament Background. The authors form an all-star cast of scholars from all major branches of Christianity and Judaism, with a heavy emphasis on evangelicals. But expertise is never sacrificed for the sake of a uniform theological perspective, and the contributions are both up-to-date and filled with detailed, state-of-the-art bibliographic references. A must buy for anyone who wants in one volume so rich an array of historical and cultural background information for! the New Testament."
—Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Seminary

"The Dictionary of the New Testament Background fills an important gap in current, up-to-date resources for serious New Testament study. Taking full advantage of the advances made since mid-twentieth century, due in large part to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi documents, and the review of the whole field they have caused, the editors and authors of this latest InterVarsity Press Dictionary have made us all a tremendous gift in ongoing efforts to understand the complicated world out of which the New Testament arose. It is a gift for scholars and beginning students alike: each article is written by a specialist in the field, thus benefiting specialists in other fields; and each article is written so that neophytes can understand the most complex of issues."
—James A. Sanders, Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center, Claremont

"The Dictionary of New Testament Background follows in the authoritative, wide-ranging and enormously illuminating tradition of its three magnificent predecessors (DJG, DPL and DLNTD). Articles are written with the power, depth and critical insight of the best contemporary scholarship, while remaining accessible to the student, pastor and teacher. This volume will be especially valued by all who seek to understand the complex of Graeco-Roman and Jewish worlds into which the New Testament church was launched. It combines an excellent and comprehensive guide to intertestamental-period thought, practice and literature, with a veritable treasure trove of selected bibliography. As a research student, I would have sold my shirt for it. Together with the other three dictionaries in the series, it will provide an enduring contribution, and a landmark of twentieth century New Testament scholarship."
—Max Turner, London Bible College

"This splendid Dictionary will be widely used as a major resource by all serious students of the Bible. Leading international specialists have contributed learned but accessible articles on an impressively wide range of topics. This Dictionary may well turn out to be the finest in the set of four, which together are making a remarkable contribution to New Testament scholarship."
—Graham Stanton, University of Cambridge

"Yet another superb dictionary from IVP! This, like the others, will be within arm's reach whether I'm preparing a sermon or writing a book, or even just browsing in the fascinating hinterland of early Christianity."
—N. T. Wright, Westminster Abbey


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About the Editors

Craig A. Evans is professor of religious studies and director of the graduate program in biblical studies at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. He has written extensively on the historical Jesus and the Jewish background of the New Testament era. His books include Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (1995) and (with James A. Sanders) Luke and Scripture: The Function of Sacred Tradition in Luke-Acts (1993). His edited volumes include (with Bruce Chilton) Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (1994).

Stanley E. Porter is research professor in New Testament at the University of Surrey Roehampton, London. He is the author of numerous studies in the New Testament and Greek language, includingThe Paul of Acts: Essays in Literary Criticism, Rhetoric, and Theology, Idioms of the Greek New Testament and Verbal Aspects of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period, 330 B.C.-A.D. 400 and Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament.

Table of Contents

How To Use This Dictionaryxi
List of Contributorsxxxi
Dictionary Articles1
Scripture Index1304
Subject Index1316
Articles Index1324

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