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Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture Paperback – November 12, 2000
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"Chapter is the best discussion of the language of grace as patronage that I have ever encountered." -- Carolyn Osiek, Catholic Biblical Quarterly
"His discussion of grace as a circle of giving and receiving that involves generosity, gift, and gratitude ... is particularly valuable." -- Ritva Williams, Interpretation
About the Author
David A. deSilva (Ph.D., Emory University) is Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio and an ordained elder in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is the author of over twenty books, including The Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude (2012), Global Readings: A Sri Lankan Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Galatians (2011), Seeing Things John's Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation (2009), An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation (2004), Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance (2002), and Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle "to the Hebrews" (2000), as well as over one hundred journal articles and contributions to reference works and collections of essays.
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David deSilva attempts to explain the most basic context of New Testament culture (hence the book's subtitle: "Unlocking New Testament Culture") by breaking his book into four parts (the eponymous Honor, Kinship, Patronage, and Ritual Purity) and further subdividing each part into two (historical background and application).
In the section he devotes to laying the historical background of each section, he quotes heavily from Biblical, extrabiblical, and secular sources of the early Church's day along with other scholars living today. These sections I found the most interesting as it opened my eyes to just how different a First Century Jew (or even, a First Century pagan living in the Roman Empire) thought and behaved. They saw the world through vastly different eyes and it would behoove all of us living today to look through them as they were and not what we think they are.
In the section he devotes to application, deSilva attempts to apply what we've learned to how the Church behaved and how the Church today should act. These parts of the book have lots of gems.
While I had some idea what he would say in each section, his part about Ritual Purity was almost totally new. We all know about the so-called archaic laws the Jews had to follow, many of which seems nonsensical to us. DeSilva does a good job in explaining how it made sense to them (and this is way more important than it making sense to US) and further explains how Jesus and the early church leaders rewrote the purity map as they ushered in the New Covenant. To put it simply, all ritual guidelines that were put in place to separate Jew and Gentile were done away with as they no longer had any place in God's plan that included both Jew and Gentile; but all guidelines that were established to separate God's holy people from an unholy, unbelieving world were maintained.
I HEARTILY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE, BELIEVER AND UNBELIEVER ALIKE It breaks down old presuppositions in favor of true historical context and it does it in a very readable format. David deSilva has the professional credentials to back it up and it's properly cited throughout. I can't give any other criticism. Buy it. Now.