The Lost Letters of Pergammum
By: Bruce Longenecker
Publisher: Baker (2003)
Review By: Joseph Fantin
Bruce Longenecker has produced a very helpful volume on the first-century world. This book contains a fictional correspondence between Luke, the Gospel writer, and Antipas, the martyr mentioned in Rev 2:13. Through these letters the reader is treated to a glimpse of the first century and a reconstruction of the early church. This is not simply a piece of historical fiction that places a story within the late first century. Rather, it is based on the best recent scholarship on the first-century world and provides a story that really could have happened (it did not but its details are accurate for the time period based on our present knowledge). One could read about ancient slavery in the first century in a common textbook or one could see it illustrated in this book. In addition to the accurate description of the times, the story itself is interesting. We follow Antipas through struggles, conversion, and finally martyrdom. During this process he encounters two different types of churches, one that attempts to remain true to God in part through separation from pagan practices and another that feels accommodation is necessary. Throughout Antipas’ spiritual journey, Luke encourages and guides him.
This is a well researched and well written volume. Although I knew the ending, it still caught me off guard.