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.
While the account is fictional, the author is a highly respected New Testament scholar who weaves reliable historical information into a fascinating story. Bruce Longenecker is able to mix fact and fiction to offer a fresh, engaging, and creative way to learn about the New Testament world. This updated edition, now with improved readability and narrative flow, will bring the social and political world of Jesus and his first followers to life for many students of the Bible.
Praise for the First Edition
“Longenecker provides, by means of an informative and delightful fiction, a remarkably clear and accurate picture of Christian existence in the eastern Mediterranean world of the first century. One comes away from this book—a ‘historical novel’ in the best sense—both charmed and informed. It is a thoroughly delightful read, from which both beginners and experts will profit.”—Paul J. Achtemeier, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia
“Longenecker’s Letters present in a fascinating and compelling way the contexts of Second Temple Judaism and Greco-Roman urban life. And the narrative he weaves is not only believable but also engaging, both academically and personally.”—Joel B. Green, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Bruce Longenecker brings early Christianity to life. The characters are vivid and believable, and they introduce the reader to a rich historical and cultural context….This book is both a delight to read and a reliable guide to the beginnings of Christianity.”—Frederick J. Murphy, College of the Holy Cross
“A savvy and creative introduction to the New Testament world, disguised as a collection of ‘lost’ letters between Luke and several well-positioned members of Roman society. The genius of the book lies in its fusion of current New Testament scholarship with a very plausible, personal narrative….Anyone hunting for a reliable, if not always comfortable, guide to the dangerous world of first-century Roman Christianity should be glad these papers were finally ‘discovered.’”—Bruce Fisk, Westmont College
“This fictional correspondence is not true, but it certainly could have been. Longenecker writes a very engaging account of several characters who, in their different ways, came to experience and respond to the risen Jesus Christ through Luke’s narrative.”—Stanley E. Porter, McMaster Divinity College
“This book is a creative and enjoyable story that is true to much of what we know about early Christianity in its environment. The narrative both teaches and engages the imagination as to how events in late first-century Pergamum might have happened.”—Carolyn Osiek, Brite Divinity School
Bruce W. Longenecker (PhD, University of Durham) is professor of religion and W. W. Melton Chair of Religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Thinking through Paul, The Cross before Constantine, and Philippians and Philemon in Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament.
For more information on The Lost Letters of Pergamum, click here.