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IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament: 2nd Ed


Buy It Once, Use It On These Platforms
  • iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Windows Store
  • Windows Desktop
  • Mac OS X


This revised edition of the IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament has been expanded throughout to provide even more up-to-date information by Craig Keener, one of the leading New Testament scholars on Jewish, Greek and Roman culture.

To understand and apply the Bible well, you need two crucial sources of information. One is the Bible itself. The other is an understanding of the cultural background of the passage you're reading. Only with this type of background can you grasp the author's original concerns and purposes.

This unique commentary provides, in verse-by-verse format, the crucial cultural background you need for responsible--and richer--Bible study. It includes a glossary of cultural terms and important historical figures, maps and charts, up-to-date bibliographies, and introductory essays about cultural background information for each book of the New Testament.

Based on decades of in-depth study, this accessible and bestselling commentary is valuable for pastors in sermon preparation, for Sunday-school and other church teachers as they build lessons, for missionaries concerned not to import their own cultural biases into the Bible, for college and seminary students in classroom assignments, and for all Bible readers seeking to deepen and enhance their understanding of Scripture.

This commentary can also be purchased as part of a two-volume set.


New in Second Edition

  • Second edition (Jan 2014) expands first edition text by 15%. Revised and updated throughout with expanded explanations of significant background issues.
  • Shows the fruit of an additional twenty years of intensive research by the author into New Testament backgrounds
  • Features maps and charts of important historical resources

Book Features

  • Cultural, historical and social background for the entire New Testament arranged in a verse-by-verse format.
  • Gathers, condenses and makes accessible an abundance of specialized knowledge
  • Includes a glossary of historical terms, ancient peoples, texts and inscriptions
  • An up-to-date bibliography of commentaries and other resources for each book of the New Testament
  • Introductory essays on each book of the New Testament, plus the importance of cultural background and the uses of this unique commentary
  • First edition sold over 500,000 copies and voted one of Christianity Today's 1995 Books of the Year
  • Author, Craig S. Keener, is one of the leading scholars of Jewish, Greek and Roman culture and religion during the New Testament era

From the Preface

In its most basic form, “background” is what the biblical writers did not have to say because they could take for granted their original audiences knew it. Modern audiences, however, often do not know it, and some texts become even obscure to us without it. Cultural and historical background can shed light on virtually every text in the New Testament, yet much of this material is difficult for nontechnical readers to find. Although many helpful commentaries exist, no single one-volume commentary has focused solely on the background material. Yet it is precisely this element—the background that indicates how the New Testament’s writers and first readers would have understood its message—that the nontechnical reader needs as a resource for Bible study (most other elements, such as context, can be observed on the basis of the text itself).

Some surveys of the cultural background of the New Testament exist, but none of these is arranged in a manner that allows the reader to answer all the pertinent questions on a given passage. This deficiency convinced me nearly three decades ago to undertake this project, unless someone else provided the service first. This book is written in the hope that more readers will now be able to hear the New Testament much closer to the way its first audience would have heard it.

Read More: A Cultural Commentary (links to PDF, from preface)

Sample Text

Jesus (in Matthew 6:7-8) told us not to pray like the pagans. But how did the pagans pray?

"Greek prayers piled up as many titles of the deity addressed as possible, hoping to secure his or her attention. Pagan prayers typically reminded the deity of favors done or sacrifices offered, attempting to get a response from the god on contractual grounds...Jesus predicates effective prayer on a relationship of intimacy."

Why was James (in James 2:6) so sure the rich would exploit the poor and drag them in court?

"Roman courts always favored the rich, who could initiate lawsuits against social inferiors, although social inferiors could not initiate lawsuits against them."

What was unusual about Jesus' exorcising demons "with authority"?

"There were many exorcists in Jesus' day. They had two main methods of expelling demons (1) revolting or scaring the demon out (e.g. by putting a smelly root up the possessed person's nose in the hope that the demon would not be able to stand it). (2) invoking the name of a higher spirit to get rid of the lower one. The people are thus amazed that Jesus can be effective by simply ordering the demons to leave."

About the Author(s)

Craig S. Keener (Ph.D., Duke University) is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. Some of his 12 books include And Marries Another, Paul, Women and Wives and IVP New Testament Commentary: Matthew. Three of his books have won Christianity Today book awards: his commentaries on Matthew, John and the background commentary. He has over a half a million books in print.

System Requirements

Installed size (unless otherwise indicated): Approximately 6.375 MB. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Requires iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running latest version of iOS. Download size: 6.375 MB. Android Requires Android OS 4.0 or later. Download size: 6.375 MB. Windows Phone Requires Windows Phone 7.5 or later. Download size: 6.375 MB. Windows Store Download size: 6.375 MB. Windows Desktop Requires Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, 8, 10 or later. Download size: 3.625 MB. Mac OS X Requires Mac OS X 10.8 or later. Download size: 6.375 MB.

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The Fine Print

Copyright © 2010-2020 by Laridian, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Laridian, PocketBible, and MyBible are registered trademarks of Laridian, Inc. DailyReader, Memorize!, PrayerPartner, eTract, BookBuilder, VerseLinker, iPocketBible, DocAnalyzer, Change the way you look at the Bible, and The Bible. Anywhere. are trademarks of Laridian, Inc. Other marks are the property of their respective owners.

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