In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early ChurchIn the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church
Paul L. Maier
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Now in one richly illustrated volume, Paul Maier's classic trilogy on the origins of Christianity takes the reader back to the first Christmas, the first Easter, and the first Christians. In this revised, updated, and expanded edition Dr. Maier's impressive research and brilliant insights correlate history, archaeology, and the New Testament to bring alive the true drama of earliest Christianity.

In "The First Christmas" Maier uses Roman history, Palestinian geography, Jewish Culture, and the most recent archaeological finds to uncover new and fascinating information about the time, the people, and the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Jesus. The accurately detailed background he creates brings a new perspective to a story too often obscured by tinsel, legend, and myth.

"The First Easter" focuses not only the Resurrection but also on those critical years and days preceding it--especially the week that forever changed the course of history. Here the nature of the conspiracy against Jesus is revealed, the politics behind the Crucifixion are unrabeled, and a historically reliable date is established for Good Friday. Maier vividly documents the Last Supper, the capture at Gethsemane, the trial before Pilate, and the process of crucifixion. He also provides important new evidence concerning the empty tomb and the actual events of that first Easter morning.

The unprecedented spread of Christianity across the Mediterranean world was sparked by extraordinary events in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. "The First Christians" fills in the little-known background of this festival and gives a vivid account of the phenomena that took place in the "upper room" in Jerusalem that day. The reader accompanies the apostles on their crucial missionary journeys; follows Paul ont he road to Damascus, Asia Minor, and Greece; is shipwrecked with him on Malta; and stands beside him at his trial before the notorious Roman Emperor.

This skillful narrative sheds a brilliant new light on the light of Jesus and the adventures of the courageous men and women who carried His message throughout a hostile empire. A host of magnificent color and black and white photographs recreate the world, the mood, the people, and the events with an immediacy that sweeps readers into the exciting first years of Christianity.

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Part I - The First Christmas 1. The Politics: A Caesar's Census
2. The Land: Palestine the Paradox
3. The Courtship: A Galilean Couple
4. The Time: An Undatable Date
5. The Place: A Bethlehem Grotto
6. The Guests: Local Shepherds, Distant Magi
7. The Astronomy: An Extraordinary Star
8. The Monster: Herod the King
9. The Journeys: Up to Jerusalem, Down to Egypt
10. The Foster Father: Joseph the Carpenter
11. The Mother: Mary the Virgin
12. The Child: Jesus of Nazareth

Part II: The First Easter
13. Ministry: Teaching and Healing
14. Friends: Up to Jerusalem
15. Enemies: Intrigue and Conspiracy
16. Betrayal: A Last Supper
17. Arrest: In the Garden
18. Hearings: Annas and Caiaphas
19. Judges: Pontius Pilate
20. Judgment: A Roman Trial
21. Execution: At Skull Place
22. The Unanticipated: Easter Dawn
23. Explanations: Doubts and Skepticism
24. The Evidence: An Empty Tomb

Part III: The First Christians

Pentecost and the Spread of Christianity
25. To Apostles: The Commission
26. To Jerusalem: The Day of Pentecost
27. To Jews: The Opposition
28. To Samaria: The Dispersion
29. To Gentiles: Peter the Rock
30. To Syria: Saul the Fanatic
31. To Asia Minor: Paul's First Journey
32. To Christians: Quarrels and Controversy
33. To Greece: Paul's Second Journey
34. To the Aegean: Paul's Third Journey
35. To Magistrates: Jeopardy in Jerusalem
36. To Italy: Rome and Nero