A Book Review of The Lost Letters of Pergamum
By Jeffrey Basford
Longenecker, Bruce W. The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2016.
Dr. Bruce W. Longenecker currently serves as professor of early Christianity at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He began his time at Baylor University in 2009 having previously taught at St Andrews University, Cambridge University, and Durham University. Dr. Longenecker is married and has two sons. Dr. Longenecker’s specializes in the origins of early Christianity in the Greco-Roman world. He has written over twenty books and has been published in countless articles.
The purpose of the book is to help readers understand what life would look like for Christians as well as pagans during the first century.
The Lost Letters of Pergamum is a fictional work written in narrative form by Dr. Bruce W. Longenecker. The book is written as a collection of several letters between prominent men and the apostle Luke during the times of antiquity. Although the letters are fictional products of Dr. Longenecker’s imaginative speculation, there is a very good possibility that similar letters may have actually existed. The brilliance of the book should be credited to Dr. Longenecker’s New Testament scholarship and his ability to create a very plausible narrative. When one reads The Lost Letters of Pergamum, he or she will have a front row seat to pagan reactions to Jesus’s message, endearing stories from household churches, the perils of sea travel, the horrors of the Roman games; and the lifestyle of privileged benefactors. Each letter throughout the book is placed in logical order adding an element of suspense to the book thus making it difficult to put down.
The narrative starts with a correspondence between Calpurnius of Ephesus and Antipas of Pergamum. The first letter is an invitation from Antipas to Calpurnius for him to attend the seasonal gladiator contest in the city of Pergamum. Although Calpurnius is not amused by gladiator fighting, he is honored by the invitation and responds with a desire to represent his city of Ephesus. Antipas then responds and includes a message for Calpurnius to send copies of homer which Calpurnius agrees to send. After Antipas receives the copy of Homer, Calpurnius’ brother dies thus prohibiting him from attending the gladiator games. He cannot attend the games because he needs to travel to Caesarea to be with his family. The death of Calpurnius’ brother creates an opportunity for the Apostle Luke (overseer of Calpurnius’estate) who is a friend of Calpurnius and his father Theopholuis to share the Gospel with Antipas. The correspondence between Antipas and Luke makes up the majority of the book. Through the letters, Luke introduces Antipas to people who call themselves Christians. He describes them as men and women who worship the God of Isreal through a man who is fully God and...