Historical Fiction on the New Testament World Written by Scholars
Ben Witherington III, A Week in the Life of Corinth (IVP, 2012).
IVP: “Ben Witherington III attempts to reenchant our reading of Paul in this creative reconstruction of ancient Corinth. Following a fictitious Corinthian man named Nicanor through an eventful week of business dealings and conflict, you will encounter life at various levels of Roman society–eventually meeting Paul himself and gaining entrance into the Christian community there. The result is an unforgettable introduction to life in a major center of the New Testament world. Numerous full-page text boxes expand on a variety of aspects of life and culture as we encounter them in the narrative.”
Bruce W. Longenecker, The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World (Baker Academic, 2002).
Baker: “The Lost Letters of Pergamum introduces readers to the style of New Testament writings, the social and political world of Jesus and his first followers, and early Christian gatherings. Using the literary technique of correspondence through ancient letters, which comprise much of the New Testament, Longenecker mixes fact and fiction to paint an interesting and informative picture of the New Testament world and early Christianity.
“Transported two thousand years into the past, readers are introduced to Antipas, a Roman civic leader who has encountered the writings of the biblical author Luke. Luke’s history sparks Antipas’s interest, and they begin corresponding. As Antipas tells Luke of his reactions to the writing and of his meetings with local Christians, it becomes evident that he is changing his mind about them and Jesus. Finally, a gladiatorial contest in Pergamum forces difficult decisions on the local Christians and on Antipas.
“The Lost Letters of Pergamum provides readers with a delightful opportunity to step into the world of the New Testament.”
Paul L. Maier, Pontius Pilate: A Novel, 2d. ed. (Kregel, 1995).
Andy Naselli: “The book is outstanding! It is engagingly written from Pontius Pilate’s vantage point, starting with Pilate’s political life in Rome and appointment as prefect in Judea (AD 26) and continuing through the murder of Jesus (33 by Maier’s calculation, which is feasible though many scholars prefer 30), death of Tiberius (37), assassination of Caligula (41), and beginning of the reign of Claudius (41-54). The overall plot and every proper name used in the book is historically accurate, and Maier fills in this factual skeleton with colorful fictional details. It reconstructs many events described in the Gospels and Acts from the viewpoint of an educated, unbelieving Roman prefect.
“God used this book to engage our minds even more with the Greco-Roman and Jewish history of NT times in a way that has helped us understand the NT better. It also has deepened our understanding of why Paul calls the gospel offensive foolishness to non-Christians (1 Corinthians 1). Praise God for a historically rooted faith and historically reliable revelation.”
Paul L. Maier, The Flames of Rome: A Novel, 2d. ed (Kregel, 1995).
Andy Naselli: “A historical novel during the reign of Nero (AD 54-68). . . . [I]t is a fine tool to engage one’s mind with first-century Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian history in a way that is virtually impossible by reading only encyclopedia-type summaries of the day. . . . I would not be surprised if both of these books become required reading for NT classes I may teach in the future.”