Lost Letters Of Pergamum
Lost Letters Of Pergamum – Bruce Longenecker’s The Lost Letters of Pergamum is a powerful demonstration of what a fertile and well-cultivated imagination can do to advance our understanding of the New Testament world. Packaged as a collection of legendary epistles revolving around the faith journey of the Roman nobleman Antipas (cf. Revelation 2:13), the book aims to entertain its readers with a story set in the historical context of early Christian writings. And to teach. The letters are presented to us through the filter of the fictional editor, a plot device that allows Longinker to insert relevant historical details via footnotes, thereby increasing the book’s pedagogical value.
The book opens with Antipas seeking to advance his social status in his new residence, Pergamum. The Antipas we encounter here is a model Roman citizen (named after the Tetrarch Herod Antipas, no less), a devout pagan, a firm believer in the Pax Romana, and a citizen benefactor of many cities. Through fellow nobleman Calpurnius, son of Theophilus (Luke 1:1-4), Antipas soon becomes acquainted with Luke and gains access to his Gospel. This paves the way for an extensive exchange of letters between Antipas and Luke, discussing the contents of Luke’s historical monograph and particularly its central character—Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of the Christian sect.
Lost Letters Of Pergamum
Antipas treads carefully before fearing compromising his honor. The theme of reputation and honor, tied to one’s social position, appears consistently in later letters. As the Epistles show, society in New Testament times was highly stratified. Strict social codes of honor and shame, and patronage and benevolence, established well-marked boundaries between patricians and commoners. However, Antipas quickly realized that the actions and teachings of Jesus—that lowly peasant craftsman from Nazareth—overturned the prevailing social order. Antipas’s frequent digests of Luke’s Gospel testify to his initial shock at Jesus’ willingness to break with existing social norms, then his growing understanding of Jesus’ vision of a community of grace.
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Antipas soon found himself involved in local Christian congregations in the Kalandion’s and Antonius’ households, and eventually developed a deep attachment to the latter group. Antipas himself was undergoing a profound personal transformation marked by a growing acceptance and even love for Jesus, his mission, and his followers. He began to respect and care for a former servant, a lowly tenant farmer whom he met at Antonius’ house. He began to shed the titles of greatness attached to him in his letters. Eventually he came to faith in Christ and, in dramatic fashion, offered himself as a martyr to the emperor to save a fellow Christian.
These letters bring the real world of the New Testament to life in a way that perhaps no scholarly treatise ever could. Like how a good period drama can educate the audience better than a documentary. We are presented with a stark but accessible commentary on the historical context of the Gospels, particularly the widespread undercurrents of social honor codes and bonds of patronage and benevolence, as well as the extreme segregation between social classes, that characterize the Gospel narratives. is under Although many of these historical details are hinted at in the Epistles, Longinecker also finds ways to give clear and lengthy treatment to some important issues, through a “historical reconstruction” of Antipas on issues of interest such as Samaria, or Luke’s more in-depth answers. On topics like the Pharisees, Pontius Pilate or the great fire in Rome. This background information serves as a powerful antidote to the anarchic projections of modern perspectives on the first-century world. Most valuable are Antipas’s frequent digests of Luke’s Gospel, through which he interacts closely with the scriptural text and the implications of Jesus’ teachings in his context as a first-century Roman elite. wrestles with.
We quickly learn that the “Kingdom of the Jewish God” that Jesus announced was against the existing social order. His acts of eating with tax collectors and sinners radically broke with social norms of honor and shame. His condemnation of the Jewish leaders arose from their self-serving alignment with these codes. Yet the manner of his death (eg Pilate’s treatment of him) suggests that he was not a social revolutionary. These points overturn the one-dimensional modern stereotype of the “gentle Jesus meek and mild” and tease out the complexity of Jesus’ identity and ministry, as well as offer useful insights into how Christians today are culturally challenged. How to live
It is in the area of storytelling that Longankar’s work falls short. The book is by no means a page-turner, and it probably wouldn’t be fair to expect it to be one. Nevertheless, certain didactic parts of the epistles are painfully constructed. This is particularly so when Luke goes into encyclopedic detail on the historical minutia in response to factual questions posed by Antipas. For example, it is difficult to imagine how Luke would have found it necessary to consider the Pharisees in such detail in his “brief picture.” Longinecker must have realized this himself, as he apologizes for his “literalism” at the end of his long speech to Luke. Other parts of the letter seem unnatural in the flow of normal correspondence. Antipas and Calpurnius’ discussion of the pros and cons of gladiatorial games, informative as it is, seems out of place in the introductory exchange of letters. If Longenecker’s intention was to establish Antipas’ credentials as a strong promoter of Rome, or to engage unsuspecting readers in the Roman entertainment scene, he achieved his goals at the expense of realistic storytelling. To be sure, these quibbles only concern isolated parts of the characters. Overall, Longinecker does an admirable job of constructing a credible, historically accurate narrative that traces Antipas’ personal transformation and eventual conversion to Christianity. So despite the storytelling flaws, Longinecker is mostly correct in his claim (in hindsight) that something like this really “could have happened.”
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As the title suggests, The Lost Letters of Pergamum is an epistolary novel, written by Luke (the author of the Gospel of Luke and a physician) and Antipas (mentioned in the Book of Revelation as a martyr of the Church). In between the legendary letters are presented as Antipas, a respected Roman citizen, begins to explore this new foreign religion.
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It reminded me of Letters of a Skeptic, another book featuring letters from a non-Christian (although I think Letters of a Skeptic is non-fiction). It’s probably easier to read a book where two people share their doubts and answers about Christianity than it is to read an apologetics book. In that sense, I thought it was a great book not only for learning about the early church, but for learning about the foundations of the Christian faith.
But while it’s an easy read and more entertaining than a pure apologetic, please don’t read it expecting every level of drama. There is talk (and action) of testimony, but most of the book consists of two people reacting to Luke’s Gospel and Christian faith and life.
And if you’re interested in how reliable the information in this book is, the author has included an appendix where he explains for each chapter, what’s completely fictional, what’s speculative, And what can be defended historically. If you’re wondering if a certain person mentioned was real, you can find out here.
Overall, I found this a quick and enjoyable read. Although I am familiar with the basics of Christian theology, I really appreciated learning more about the world of the early church and the challenges it faced – it may be almost two thousand years ago, but in many ways it is Feels the same. Even in our modern world. The greatest modern name that comes to mind when one speaks of faith and God is Professor Bruce W. Longenecker. This name stands tall, undefeated and unquestioned in the golden pages of Western Christianity, reflecting the hearts and minds of the people of their time. He has devoted himself to the understanding and interpretation of man’s salvation from his hopeless condition.
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His observations and accounts of human motivations and emotions, his profound analysis of will and thought in their interplay, and his profound exploration of the inner nature of the human self have established an important tradition in the Lost Letters of Pergamum. .
It was founded by Professor Bruce W. Longenecker.