Warren Carter’s book offers the necessary understanding of the Christianity’s initial stages. The book’s structure is such that it revolves around seven important events that had a great impact on Christianity in early times. They briefly include the following: the demise of Alexander , comparison between Jesus and Alexander, the translation’ process of scriptures from Hebrew to Greek, the Jerusalem temple rededication that analyses the Maccabean revolt and its contribution to Jewish identity and the occupation of Romans of Judea gives a description of the roman rule in Judea and the Christian’s response on it. The chapter also include: Jesus’s crucifixion as addressed in the fifth event and herein an explanation is given for his crucifixion, the next event is the writing of the texts in the New Testament and the final event is the process of closure of the New Testament Canon.
In this book, Carter explores both social and historical contexts. He explores the significance of the happenings during development of Christianity in early times. Even though the book’s content is in an ancient context, that reflections are relevant in today’s times. Chapter 4 discusses the existence of Roman’s power in Judea and the cities around it by Pompey who was the commander and the traitor of Judeans King Herod. It also shows the historical events that Judeans went over during that early time.
In chapter 4, it highlights the Roman occupation of Judea and the takeover by Rome as it maintained power. Carter notes that “when imperial power is asserted, winners and losers will always be there”. The biggest losers in this case were Hasmoneans and Judeans while the winners were Romans, King Herod and his sons Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip. In the chapter, Herod has kept a tight grip of Judea. As a leader, he is quite biased and exercise ruthless power over his subjects regardless of them being Roman or Jewish. His actions were ridiculous as he was willing to commit any crime in order to satisfy his ambition. He would punish and execute anyone objecting his way of ruling even close people such as his wife, children, and his mother in law. Also, he was willing to do whatever is needed to maintain and please his relationship with his Romans bosses because he realized that Rome’s empire had started. On the other hand, he was successful in maintaining a tight grip because of his development projects in Judea. Herod offered excuses for being such a vicious ruler such that Judeans were in constant negotiation with him. The approaches to negotiation were as follows: “some waited for God’s actions through the Messiah while others found justice in entirely different ways” . There was a mixture of different things that happened in the period, and others sought for independence and a secure future, and some were violent in an endeavor to be more appealing to the Romans. The locals thus had varying evaluation of the rulers with some applauding them and others rebuking them in totality.
The Judeans chose different ways in which they negotiated Roman presence and power. According to Carter, these negotiations involved the faith they placed in the Messiah. This was such that they waited for the intervention of the Lord through the Messiah’s sending. In so doing, they were in constant prayer with the hope that everything will change to the better. Others consulted and explored it through different ways that entailed involvement in acts of violence. The Judeans believed that the Messiah would save them from King Herod’s oppressive rule as well as the desecrating Romans.
Several approaches have been used in trying to represent opposition and accommodate them in studying the New Testament. This methodology focuses mostly on power of ideological power struggles between imperial and native forces. In the first century CE, chapter 4 discusses how the Roman Empire exercised political authority over Jewish authorities. The mark’s gospel represents a form of resistant literature. This resistant indicates that Jesus ‘portrayal is not an attempt to abolish the whole structure of Empire but replacement to the emperor with the true Lord. This Postcolonial criticism is clear attempts to explore how authors in the ancient tried to negotiate dynamic power as a subjugated group’s members. In this chapter, one is enlightened on the genesis of Christian movement and in so doing helping in the understanding of the New Testament. In this discussion, it lights many historical events that may not briefly showed or discussed in details in Matthew’s Gospel in the New Testament. In addition, the diversity selection of stories chosen by Carter in the emergence of the New Testament plays a huge role in giving more insights into its development.
The factual information provided on the development of Christianity plays a significant role of shading light on the situation of events. The socio-cultural happenings offer a new perspective on the New Testament. The several illustrations in the book and the textual aids play a huge role in making the reader understand the New Testament fully. In the chapters of Carter’s book, both social and historical contexts are well explored.
He explores the significance of events in that time to the development of Christianity in early times. Even though the chapter’s content is in an ancient context, the reflections are relevant in today’s times. Warren Carter’s book offers the necessary understanding of the initial stages of Christianity. The book’s structure is to revolve around seven important events that had a great impact on Christianity in early times. This chapter thus plays a tremendous role in further understanding of the New Testament to modern day Christians. The historical happening put things in perspective and assists in the following of the stories revealed in the New Testament.
Carter, Warren. Seven Events that Shaped the New Testament World. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.