The book that I am reviewing this month has sat on my bookshelf for a long time without ever having been picked up. Indeed, I must have once been recommended the book because I have two books by Rev. Pfeiffer neither of which I had actually read. What a treat it was when I actually picked them up!
The author is tackling what actually happened in historical terms in the period of time between the close of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. After reading the book I have gone back to my Herodotus and began to fill in a bit more of the detail. The other huge advantage of the book is that it is written in a very easy to read style - the prose is not heavy or academic and the book would suit a teenager (and anyone older) who wanted to know a bit more about the history of the Bible.
The narrative is divided into two sections - the story starts with the Persian period and we see the conquest of Palestine and the rebuilding of Jerusalem (so this stretches back into the OT). This helps to explain the struggles between the Persians and the Egyptians and then the subsequent rise of the Seleucids.
The second part of the narrative is the Hellenistic period - and we see Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies, the Seleucids and all the battles over Israel. In the midst of this we see the rise of Jewish groups that fought against this Hellenistic influence - Pharisees, Sadducees, Maccabees, Essenes, Hasidim and the way they squabbled with one another and played off bigger enemies against one another. It also helps to explain some of those texts in Daniel that are taken to refer to Antiochus Epiphanes (and who he was and what he did).
it answers a whole range of questions that you might have like who were the Pharisees and Sadducees, where does Modern Judaism come from, who was King Herod and where was his kingdom, who was Pilate and why were the Romans there at the same time as Herod etc. etc.
A thoroughly enjoyable tour of basic Church history - I enjoyed it so much that I am now starting the second book of his that I own on the Exile (I understand there are more in the series!).
The book is available on Amazon and for readers in Glasgow there is a copy of this book in the second hand section of the FP Church bookroom (or at least there was on Tuesday 6th April) - I hope it provides you with as much enjoyment as it has me!