The Lost Letters Of Pergamum Summary

The Lost Letters Of Pergamum Summary – In the spirit of adopting Bookstagram’s offering, I borrowed another book I found on the forum. This was from Book & Briefcase’s post and I originally decided to read it when he mentioned that the author was a New Testament scholar who used everything he knew in the book.

As the title suggests, The Lost Letters of Pergamum is a historical novel, in which the fictional relationship between Luke (the author of the Gospel of Luke and a physician) and Antipas (described in the Book of Revelation as a martyr to the Church) letters are included. Respected Roman citizens, begin their search for this new exotic religion.

The Lost Letters Of Pergamum Summary

The Lost Letters Of Pergamum Summary

It reminded me of Letters from a Skeptic, which is another book containing letters from a non-Christian to a Christian (though I think Letters from a Skeptic is nonfiction). It is probably easier to read a book on apologetics than to read a book where two people talk about their doubts and answers about Christianity. In that sense, I thought it was a great book to learn not only about the early church, but also about the foundations of Christianity.

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But although it’s easier to read and more enjoyable than the book Pure Apologetics, please don’t read this expected level of drama from Ben Hur. There is talk (and action) of martyrdom, but most of the book consists of two people expressing their response to the Gospel of Luke and to Christianity and life.

And if you’re interested in how reliable the information in this book is, the author has also included an appendix where he lists, for each chapter, what is completely fictional, what is speculative. , and what can be defended historically. If you’re wondering whether a certain person mentioned was real, you can find out here.

Overall, I found this to be a quick and enjoyable read. While I am familiar with the basics of Christian theology, I really appreciated learning more about the world of the early church and the challenges they faced – this may be nearly two thousand years ago, but in many ways, it Seems like even for our modern world. Bruce Longnecker’s The Lost Letters of Pergamum is a compelling demonstration of what a fertile and well-developed imagination can do to advance our understanding of the New Testament world. Packaged as a compilation of fictional letters revolving around the faith journey of the Roman nobleman Antipas (cf. Revelation 2:13), the book aims to guide its readers through a story set in the historical context of early Christian writings. To entertain and educate. The letters are presented to us through a fictional editor’s filter, a plot device that allows Longnecker to insert relevant historical details via footnotes, increasing the book’s didactic value.

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The book begins with Antipas eager to advance his social status in his new abode, Pergamum. The Antipas we face here is an idealized Roman citizen (named no less than the Tetraarch Herod Antipas), devout pagan, a staunch believer in the Pax Romana, and a citizen of many cities. Through fellow nobleman Kalpernius, son of Theophilus (Luke 1:1-4), Antipas soon comes across Luke’s acquaintance and gains access to his gospel. This paved the way for an extended exchange of letters between Antipas and Luke, discussing the content of Luke’s historical monograph, and in particular its main protagonist—Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of the Christian sect.

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Antipas was at first treading cautiously, for fear of compromising his honour. The theme of prestige and honor, closely linked to one’s social standing, re-emerges frequently in later letters. As the letters point out, society was highly stratified in New Testament times. Strict social codes of honor and shame, and patronage and favor, polished the well-marked boundaries between patriots and plebeians. However, Antipas quickly realized that the actions and teachings of Jesus – this lowly peasant artisan of humble Nazareth – radically overturned the prevailing social order. Antipas’ periodic digests of the Gospel of Luke testify to his initial shock to Jesus’ readiness to depart from existing social norms, then his growing understanding of Jesus’ vision of the community of grace.

Antipas soon found himself involved in the local Christian congregations in the homes of the Kalandian and Antonius, and eventually developed a deep affinity for the latter group – a community that exemplified the spirit of the fundamentalist teachings of Jesus. Antipas himself was undergoing a profound personal transformation, marked by a growing acceptance and even love of Jesus, his mission, and his followers. He began to respect and care for a former employee, a lowly cultivator farmer whom he had met at Antonius’ house. He began to drop the pompous titles once attached to himself in his letters. In the end he believed in Christ and, in dramatic fashion, presented himself as a martyr to the emperor in order to save a fellow Christian.

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These letters bring to life the real world of the New Testament in a way that an academic text could never; Just like a good period drama can better educate a given audience than a documentary. We are offered a harsh but accessible commentary on the historical context of the gospel, particularly the wide undercurrents of social honor codes and bonds of protection and benevolence, as well as the extreme separation between social classes that underlies the gospel narrative. . While many of these historical details are mentioned in letters, Longnecker also finds ways to give a clear and lengthy treatment to some of the key issues, through “historical reconstructions” of Antipas on issues of interest such as the Samaritans, or from Luke. More intense responses to topics such as the Pharisees, Pontius Pilate or the Great Fire in Rome. This background information serves as a powerful antidote against the chronological presumptions of modern approaches to the world of the first century. Most valuable are Antipas’ periodic digest of the Gospel of Luke, through which he, as a first-century Roman aristocrat, interacts closely with the text of scripture and wrestles with the implications of Jesus’ teachings in his context.

The Lost Letters Of Pergamum Summary

We quickly learn that the “kingdom of the Jewish god” that Jesus proclaimed was the exact opposite of the existing social order. Their actions of tax collectors and eating with sinners fundamentally broke with social codes of honor and shame. His chastisement of Jewish leaders stemmed from his self-serving alignment with these codes. Yet his manner of death (for example Pilate’s treatment of him) suggests that he was not a social revolutionary. These points overturn the one-dimensional modern stereotype of “gentle Jesus meek and gentle” and tease out the complexity of Jesus’ identity and ministry, while also providing useful insight into how Christians today should live culturally. .

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It is in the area of ​​storytelling that Longnecker’s work is found to be desired. The book is by no means a page-turner, and it probably wouldn’t be fair to expect it to be one. Nevertheless, some didactic portions of the letters are painfully fraught. This is especially the case when Luke goes into detail in the Encyclopedia on Historical Subtlety in answer to the factual questions raised by Antipas. For example, it is hard to imagine how Luke would have considered it necessary to go into so much detail in his “concise portrait” of the Pharisees; Longnecker himself must have sensed this, as he apologizes to Luke for his “vocabulary” at the end of his long speech. Other parts of letters seem unnatural in the flow of normal correspondence. Antipas and Calpurnius’ discussion on the pros and cons of gladiatorial games, as informative as it is, seems out of place in an introductory exchange of letters. If Longnecker’s intention was to establish Antipas’ credentials as a staunch promoter of Rome, or to engage uninformed readers in the Roman entertainment scene, he achieved his goal at the cost of realistic storytelling. To be sure, these quibbles only relate to individual parts of the letters. Overall, Longnecker does a competent job of producing a credible, historically accurate narrative that traces Antipas’ personal transformation and eventual conversion to Christianity. So despite the flaws in the storytelling, Longnecker is mostly justified in his claim (in the preface) that something like this really “could have happened”.

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