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Cultural and Historical Background for New Testament Studies

These are articles about a variety of subjects giving helpful information to aid the understanding of the New Testament: including cities, cultural issues, historical and political information, as well as religious and philosophical movements. Choose the link to the left or below to reach the article you require.

Jewish Groups

This contains a lot of information about Judaism in the first century, describing the origin and characteristics of the different religious groups we meet in the New Testament, including the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and Essenes.

Herod's Temple

Take a tour around one of the most magnificent buildings of ancient times - the temple built by Herod the Great in Jerusalem, where so many important events described in the Gospels took place.

AD 70

This tells about the dreadful suffering of the Jews during the siege of Jerusalem and the fall of the city to the Roman army in AD 70.

Jewish Ages

How old is old? An interesting list showing the Jewish view of age, and what they thought we are ready for at different stages of life.

Money

This lists the different coins and currencies in circulation in the first century which are mentioned in the New Testament, and suggests the modern value of some of them.

Taxation

This describes the unjust taxation system in Israel under Roman rule, explaining the job Matthew did before Jesus called him to be a disciple.

Annas and Caiaphas

Learn more about the Annas the high priest, and his notorious family, including Caiaphas, who was high priest during the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

Pontius Pilate

Find out more about the infamous governor of Judah, and his part in the trial of Jesus.

Emperors

A short biography of each of the Roman Emperors who reigned during the first century, giving the dates of their reign, and whether they persecuted the church.

Nero

A description of the notorious Emperor Nero, the Fire of Rome in A.D. 64, and his persecution of the church that resulted.

Roman Government

When reading the Book of Acts, there are a number of different titles for Roman governors and military ranks. This lists them and explains what these were.

Travel

During his ministry Paul travelled thousands of miles around the Roman Empire. This article describes the transport system in the first century.

Corinth

A study looking at the history of Corinth, its many religions, and its culture during the first century, giving helpful information for the setting of Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth.

Photos of Corinth

A series of photographs showing the site of the ancient city of Corinth and the surrounding area

Ephesus

A description of the city of Ephesus as it was in the first century, and the foundation of the church there, giving helpful background information to several New Testament letters.

Photos of Ephesus

A series of photographs showing the site of the ancient city of Ephesus and the surrounding area

Gnosticism

Many of the letters in the New Testament counter early forms of this influential false teaching. This article describes its origins, main teachers, and most important aspects of its doctrines and practices.

Patronage

A description of the rigid social classes in the Roman Empire, with a focus on the unjust system of patronage, which was challenged in the early church.

Slavery

How were slaves treated in the Roman empire? This gives helpful background information for the Book of Philemon.

Stoicism

An account of the history of Stoicism, a summary of its beliefs, and its impact on the world of the first century.

Greek Games

In several of his letters, Paul makes references to the Greek games, particularly the foot-race and boxing, as metaphors of the Christian life, which he describes as a race, and as a fight.