Friday, June 15, 2012

A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington III

 This book will never win an award as a novella, but it is an exceedingly clever way to teach a person about 1st century Greco-Roman culture as it touches on the New Testament.  The story line is about a wealthy Corinthian man named Erastus who is running for public office.  Erastus recently was converted to Christianity by an itinerate preacher named Paulos who has come to his city and makes and sells tents by day and teaches in the afternoons and evenings.  The "week in the life" format takes us through the typical routines of people in the ancient world from their home life and politics to commercial life and leisure time.  As the story develops, the author builds non-fiction historic sidebars with photos to show and explain to the reader the cultural elements he is describing.  Having been a student of ancient history for many years, I found little material that was totally unfamiliar territory, but for the interested layman, this is an ideal primer.  What I found particularly effective was the fictional reconstruction of a banquet serving meat offered to idols and a typical house church meeting.  Both of these shed light on things Paul references in the Corinthian letters of the New Testament that are not particularly clear to the modern western reader.  An educational and entertaining read and I hope one that will be followed with a sequel located in Jerusalem or some other biblical site.