Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study by Darrell L. Bock and Gregory J. Herrick. Crucial to a proper understanding and interpretation of Scripture is an awareness of the historical, cultural, and religious context in which the Bible was written. But the passing of two millennia often prevents the modern student from fully understanding the significance of various actions and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. For instance, the controversy over Jesus's healing on the Sabbath must be understood against the backdrop of the Mishnah's detailed list of forbidden Sabbath activities.
The diligent researcher can cull such information by poring through numerous early Jewish and Christian texts or by referencing Strack and Billerbeck's six-volume Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch. But in Jesus in Context, Darrell L. Bock and Gregory J. Herrick have identified and compiled into one handy volume the key extrabiblical texts that provide the necessary cultural background for understanding passages in the Gospel narratives. Brief comments from the editors precede each selection, noting its relevance to the biblical text. Anyone used this? I'm trying to follow Bird's advice that one should probably only buy books that one has used [or that one KNOWS one is going to use lots, regardless of position]... Martin Hengel gives it a favourable thumbs up. What say you all in Blogsphere?