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A Week in the Life of Corinth Paperback – April 28, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"This is historical fiction at its best." (World Magazine, October 27, 2012)

"Ben Witherington III, a good creative writer and accomplished NT scholar, has given us a treat in his short novel A Week in the Life of Corinth. Rather than providing a list of facts about life and culture in NT times, Witherington has composed an interesting story in which we can see and learn this information along the way. This will be a fun way to enhance our understanding of the world in which the NT takes place―and it would be helpful for preachers to read some good fiction along the way!" (Ray Van Neste, Preaching, November/December 2012)

"The book would be an ideal introduction to a course on 1 Corinthians, or to a course on Paul and his mission. It is easy to read, but very well informed by Witherington's scholarship." (David Wenham, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 35(5))

"As I have been teaching on 1 Corinthians, I found this work very beneficial. Not only is the storyline intriguing, but this book also presents itself as a pedagogical tool. Here students can 'feel' what life must have been like in first century Graeco-Roman society―a culture foreign to many of us today. Witherington's book brings biblical times alive and is thus a wonderful gift to the church. It brings us closer to our spiritual ancestors and their experience of the risen Lord in a society hostile to the gospel." (Benjamin Marx, Trinity Journal, Spring 2013)

"[T]his is an appealing view of the social world of Paul and Corinth. I have no doubt that it will arouse the interest and capture the imagination of readers." (Sarah Whittle, Evangelical Quarterly, 86.2 (2014))

"Whether you're well acquainted with Paul's letters to the Corinthian church or are encountering them for the first time, this book will bring the biblical text to life." (Matthew M. Whitehead, Bible Study Magazine, September/October 2012)

"Like the valley of dry bones being covered once more with sinews and flesh, Corinth rises from its overgrown ruins to its former vibrancy, color and intrigue, allowed to re-live one week of its history. Witherington masterfully mingles the pleasant and the useful as he introduces readers to the social institutions, household customs and civic life of the Roman colony of Corinth by telling a delightful story centering on the attempts of one Erastus to win a public office and one Paul to prepare for his trial before the Roman proconsul, Gallio. I know of no other introduction to the Greco-Roman environment of Paul's mission that could also qualify as entertaining 'beach reading.'" (David A. deSilva, Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary)

"I highly recommend this fresh approach to familiar territory: it will illuminate as well as entertain!" (Michael A.G. Haykin, Credo Magazine, May 2012)

"This very readable―indeed, gripping―book gives us an imaginative insight into the Greco-Roman world of Paul's mission to Corinth. The details of everyday life for Paul and those he met are set in their historical context by an expert scholar who knows the New Testament and its background very well. I recommend it to all who want to understand the setting in which early Christianity grew and flourished." (Alanna Nobbs, professor of ancient history, Macquarie University)

"If you want to know what it would have been like to live in ancient Corinth, spend a week in the life of a freedman, traverse the olive groves and cobblestone streets, survive the cutthroat politics of a Greek city, encounter pagan priestesses and converse with a Jewish tentmaker named 'Paulos,' then Ben Witherington has written the book for you. This short novella, with pictures and explanations of customs in ancient Corinth, provides a window into the world of Paul's Corinthian letters. Witherington creatively brings the setting of Paul's Corinthian ministry to life with historical rigor and narrative artistry. Witherington brings to us the sights, smells, sounds and culture of Corinth as the apostle Paul knew it." (Michael F. Bird, Crossway College, Australia)

"This book provides a uniquely enjoyable way to learn about ancient culture and Paul's mission in Corinth by immersion. Although I found the story delightful and intriguing, I could also see behind it careful research on a large array of details." (Craig Keener, author of 1-2 Corinthians (Cambridge) and Acts: An Exegetical Commentary (4 vols.; Baker Academic))

"This imaginative narrative brings the New Testament world to life by following the freedman Nicanor around ancient Corinth, relating his encounters with religion, gladiators, politics, domestic life and the nascent Christian movement (including several biblical characters). Though it may not solve all the riddles of the Corinthian correspondence, here is an engaging and informative introduction to Corinth and the wider cultural context of the first-century Roman Empire." (Brandon D. Crowe, assistant professor of New Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary)

About the Author

Ben Witherington III (PhD, University of Durham) is Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. A prominent evangelical scholar, he is also on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. His other works include The Indelible Image, Women and the Genesis of Christianity, The Gospel Code, A Week in the Life of Corinth and commentaries on the entire New Testament. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to Patheos and Beliefnet. Witherington is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. He previously taught at institutions like Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings around the world. He has led numerous study tours through the lands of the Bible and is known for bringing the text to life through incisive historical and cultural analysis. Along with many interviews on radio and television networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline and the Peter Jennings ABC special Jesus and Paul―The Word and the Witness.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 159 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; First edition (April 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830839623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830839629
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David deSilva on April 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
I wrote a brief review for the back cover of this book, but I had to say a little more here to convey my excitement about Dr. Witherington's latest.

People are far more apt to read a novel than a non-fiction book about ancient history. Why? The former gives pleasure; it invites readers into a world with a (hopefully) compelling story. The latter feels too much like homework, a distaste that lingers long past the end of high school for the majority. Ben has successfully brought these two genres together in a brief, engaging work of historical fiction interspersed with sidebars giving more in-depth explanations of the social, cultural, and historical phenomena that the readers encounter in his story. The whole is richly illustrated, mostly with photographs taken by the author from his own trips to the site he brings to life.

The novel traces out two basic plots: Erastus seeks to garner support in his run for the civic office of "aedile" in Corinth; Paul prepares for his hearing before Gallio, the Roman proconsul. These two plots lines give Witherington all the framework he needs to bring the characters from the Acts narrative and Corinthian letters to life, and to draw us into the everyday world of that city. I cannot recommend the concept and the result highly enough. If you're a student of the New Testament/Early Christianity, buy this book and take it with you to the beach. You will be instructed, and it won't feel like work at all.
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This is the sort of thing more Christians need. Forget that mushy Christian romance crap that is more popular that it needs to be. Unlike myself, most people don't like reading textbooks and scholarly works on the history and culture of the New Testament world (or Old Testament). Books like this would be the perfect compromise. You have a basic story that gets the job done. Nothing too fancy and nothing too complicated. In addition, you also get a large dose of information regarding the way people lived back then. It really puts things into perspective. I'll discuss the educational content and the story itself separately.

I'll be honest, I didn't buy this book for the story and wasn't expecting an award winning novel with deep characterization. The story didn't really exceed my expectations. The story didn't grab me and propel me further. The characters were not that deep, story seemed to be your standard non-christian-becomes-christian-by-the-end story. Now, despite these criticisms, I did enjoy the story for what it did. It illustrated Paul, Priscilla and others in the socio-cultural context of which they lived. In that regard, I kept reading to see how the characters would interact in a time period so different from my own. In the end, story was nothing special, but not exactly terrible either. 3/5

Educational Content
This is the reason I bought the book: to see how a scholar would construct a world from all the cultural, historical and political facts we know of that era. Within the story, the author inserts textboxes illustrated certain aspects about that time. You have a few blurbs on slavery, a few on politics, some on favors, the baths, etc. I really enjoyed reading this info and then seeing it illustrated within the story. I applaud Mr.
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Format: Paperback
I bought the book to get a bit of perspective in studying Paul's letters. Honestly, I was a bit tired of dry (though interesting) theological and historical analyses and needed a breath of fresh air. Boy, did this book deliver! It can easily be read in a few hours and is remarkably hard to put down. Not only is the author a gifted story-teller, he also managed to put in just the right amount of side-bars to explain historical and cultural idiosyncrasies. Page for page, it is the most enjoyable and informative book I've read in a very long time. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Take a trip with me to the mid-1st century, won't you, aboard a ship bound for Corinth. Nicanor is our guide to one of the most important regions and cities in the New Testament. He also happens to be the main character in Ben Witherington's delightful new book, A Week in the Life of Corinth. I'm told this book is the first in a new genre of historic nonfiction Witherington hopes to write to help the Church better understand and engage the 1st century NT world. Based on this solid first offering I hope it does well enough to justify more such books--imagine similar ones on Rome, Galatia, and Colossi!

A Week in the Life of Corinth is a piece of historical nonfiction that traces the life of one Nicanor, a manumitted--former, released slave--businessman-in-the-making who serves a successful tradesman, businessman, and political up-and-comer, Erastos. Along the way you meet a cast of fictitious characters that give flesh to Witherington's tale and actual characters, like Pricilla, Aquilla, and the apostle Paul himself. You also encounter the typical staples of modern Corinthian life: forums, baths, marketplaces, medicine, politics, slavery, and many other facets that create a compelling, accurate world for Witherington's historical fiction.

Speaking of compelling historical fiction, the book is actually a compelling, enjoyable read from a narrative, literary perspective! I was pleasantly surprised to find some degree of character development and a nice plot-line along which the author brought his characters, with conflict, climax, resolution and all. I liken this book to the wildly popular and compelling historical fiction author, Steven Saylor.
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