This is far more than an account of social conditions at the time of Jesus. It seeks to paint in some of the historical, intellectual and cultural background against which the books of the New Testament must be read if they are to be fully understood ...Throughout the book Lohse shows how various New Testament passages are illuminated by the background he sketches .. In all, this is a very good book which manages to compress a vast amount of material into a thoroughly readable form. It must be essential reading for anyone who wishes to study the New Testament seriously' (Theology). 'A straightforward introduction to the world of the New Testament, written at a simple level and in a very clear style. The first part is concerned with the Jewish environment, both in Palestine and in the Diaspora. In three chapters the author surveys Jewish history from the Exile to Bar Kochba, gives an account of religious movements and parties in the NT period, and describes Jewish belief and practice at that time. The second part is concerned with the Roman world at large. Here the author deals with Roman life and institutions, and with popular religion and philosophy. In a final chapter there is a very useful introduction to gnosticism. Taken as a whole the account is very reliable and helpful' (Society for Old Testament Study Book List).