This study demonstrates how fruitful the relationship between the social sciences and Biblical studies can be if sociological method is imaginatively applied to an account of Palestinian society during the first century. It seeks to show how a sociologist, in examining Josephus' account of the struggle for succession within the Herodian household, would set about asking certain questions about Palestinian society as a whole. The author identifies a succession-crisis that affects every level of Palestinian society, which leads him to ask how that crisis may threaten Israel's capacity to reproduce itself from one generation to the next. As an introduction to the peculiar craft of sociology, this book will be of particular interest to students of antiquity and of the New Testament.
"The author has chosen a useful way in which to present the sociologist's craft to the reader. Zeroing in on a particular set of circumstances keeps the book from becoming a dull, theoretical account, and Fenn adds to the appeal of the book by making a number of observations about NT passages that parallel or exemplify what he finds in Josephus's reports...it is instructive to see what happens when a familiar text is viewed through eyes that are trained to see phenomena differently than a traditional historian might." James Vanderkam, Critical review