Book Notice: A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem

Ben Witherington
A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem
 
Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2017.
Available at Amazon.com

By Chris Porter

In this brief work Witherington seeks to intertwine historical fiction with scholarly investigation as he provides twenty short vignettes focusing on the week after Titus’ sack of Jerusalem in 70CE. As a work of historical fiction Witherington takes liberties with the characters described–although many readers will find them familiar from the broader biblical narratives. Such as the figure of Matthew/Levi, and his desire to write a Gospel account from the Marcan source, or the fleeing of Joanna with Mary and Martha, and even a cameo from Josephus in Titus’ tent. These hypothetical narratives are supplemented by scholarly interpolations focusing on various aspects of the narrative at hand. Be it a paragraph or two on the temple, or a page on numismatics. Alongside the narratives, these interpolations richen the story at hand, and provide a reader with a deeper understanding of the background to the narratives.

Overall this is not aimed at a scholarly audience. But I can easily see the use of this work—and Witherington’s earlier A Week in the Life of Corinth—in an academic setting, in order to enrichen and enliven the biblical narratives for a class. These vignettes assist in placing the reader within the text, and to understand some of the pressures and implications that are commonly only assessed at arm’s length from the historical sources. It is a valuable resource for an introductory subject or bible study setting.

Chris Porter is a PhD student at Ridley College

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