I got this book thinking it would be helpful as a way of learning more about the general cultural background of the Gospels. It doesn't actually do that. What it does do very well, however, is to collate material from Jewish and Patristic sources on specific aspects of passages in the Gospels. It is not an easy book to read, as it is a collection of ancient texts. It is, however, an excellent and valuable reference work to use as an exegetical tool when doing work in the Gospels, and that is what I will certainly be using it for in future. It is divided into sections dealing with specific passages in the Gospels. This book is probably not a work for exegetical beginners: you do need some outline understanding of what the various ancient sources are (Mishna, Tosefta, Talmuds, Josephus & Philo, Dead Sea Scrolls, Church Fathers, etc) otherwise they will just look like random texts with no context. Darrell Bock does, however, introduce each of the main sources in the Introduction to the book. My one criticism of this work is that it wasn't always apparent to me why the author had chosen a particular reading to illuminate his point, but this could be a problem with my understanding rather than his writing! In summary - a valuable exegetical resource, but not an easy read.
- I agree that this is not an easy read. I had i for a class in Seminary I was so challenged by that I dropped out of it. I needed a Jesus for beginners really and not ashamed to admit it. I kept the hardcover though. Maybe someone might want it from me in the future or I can refer to it later in my understanding and studies I thought.,