Book Review: When The Time Had Fully Come

Book Review: When The Time Had Fully Come 


The book “When The Time Had Fully Come” sets out to achieve the author’s purpose as a study of the Intertestamental Period. The book was written by Theodore N. Swanson, edited by Ralph R. Hellerich, and published by Parish Life Press, Philadelphia. The book consists of 13 chapters of 128 pages, with the last page consisting of some crucial Words used in the book. The book’s contents, from the Introduction to the last topic, “When The Time Had Fully Come,” include others like:

  • History of the Intertestamental Period
  • The Apocrypha
  • The Pseudepigrapha
  • The Temple and the Synagogue
  • Pharisees and Sadducees
  • Essenes and Zealots
  • Samaritans and Diaspora Jews
  • Torah
  • The Kingdom and the Messiah
  • Life After Death
  • Angels, Demons, and Sin

Book Summary:

The author sets out to make the readers knowledgeable Christian and better informed as to what went on “between the Testaments” The author presented Jesus against his Historical, Religious, and Cultural background, exposing the parties, institutions, and ideas in the Gospel for better understanding. It reveals the plan of God to redeem the fallen Man at the appropriate Time through His only begotten Son. To the author, God sent forth His Son when the Time had fully come; “That Time was The Intertestamental period.

The Roman general Pompey occupied Jerusalem in 63 B.C., starting the Roman rule during Jesus’ lifetime. The Jewish Nation became free in 1948. The period in between was controlled by a combination of Greek and Roman rulers and was called the Intertestamental period. The author confirmed the survival of the Pharisees, unlike the Sadducees and Essenes. So the Pharisaic collection of Scriptures became the Canon of all Judaism. During this period, available Scriptures and other articles are Old Testament (O.T.) Canon, The Apocrypha, The Pseudepigrapha, including sectarian literature from Qumran.

This book is a study to understand better the Christian Faith by getting acquainted with the historical and theological developments of the Intertestamental period. In treating the history of the Intertestamental period, the focus was on the sources: as recorded in the 1 and 2 Maccabees; the Jews under Persian rule, Alexander the Great and his successors, a graphic detail of the conquests and empire of Alexander the Great was given; account of the Jews under Seleucid Rule (198B.C – 167 B.C.) and the Maccabean Revolt of 167 B.C. – 134 B.C. The history was also on the Hasmoneans (134 B.C. – 37 B.C.), Herod the Great (37 B.C. – 4 B.C.), the successors of Herod (4 B.C. – A.D 66), and the Jews in Revolt (A.D. 66 – A.D. 135).

The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books listed by the author are The 1st & 2nd Book of Esdras, Tobit, Judit, Additions to the Book of Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, Baruch, The letter of Jeremiah (sometimes included as chapter 6 of Baruch), The prayer of Azariah and the song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bell and the Dragon, The prayer of Manasseh, The 1st & 2nd Book of the Maccabees and Psalm 151. Also mentioned are the Pseudepigrapha that includes the Apocalyptic (Revelation of divine mysteries). Like The book of Jubilees, The Martyrdom of Isaiah, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, The Assumption of Moses, The Books of Adam & Eve, The Letter of Aristeas, The Psalms of Solomon, The Book of Enoch, The Sibylline Oracles, 2 & 3 Baruch.

The author’s interest in the Temple and the Synagogue was to highlight these two Religious Institutions given their importance for every Jew of the first Christian Century, including Jesus. One of the most beautiful buildings in the world today is the Dome of the Rock, built on the Temple Platform where Herod’s Temple stood in Jesus’ Time. The author called our attention to the numerous occasions the Jews went to the Temple. In addition to the Pilgrimage feasts, individuals went to make required Offerings and Sacrifices. Still, the Synagogue service, with its non-sacrificial worship, enabled Judaism to survive the traumatic loss of the Temple with its sacrificial worship in A.D. 70. The Jews of the Diaspora found a replacement in the Synagogue and the service emphasis on prayer and the reading and interpretation of Scripture provided a pattern for early Christian worship.

The author uses descriptive references from Josephus to treat readers to the true meaning and differences between the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots and tries to identify the sources or causes of friction between the Samaritans and the Jews. The two groups were outside the mainstream of Palestinian Judaism in the Intertestamental period. According to the author, the friction could have started when Nehemiah was Governor of Judea. Sanballat, the Governor of Samaria, was the leader of those opposed to rebuilding the Jerusalem wall (Nehemiah 4: 1-6: 14). One significant difference between the Jews and the Samaritans is the place where God should be worshiped – John 4: 20.

The author did not go in-depth into the history of Jews dispersion but mentioned the origins of Jewish communities in the Diaspora, focusing on Hellenistic Judaism; those that imbibed the Hellenistic Culture and spoke the Greek language. The author explored the place of Torah in the Judaism of the Intertestamental period; cited that in O.T., the word Torah is used to express several different ideas, including “Oracle of God,” “Instruction,” and a written document. Among the Pharisees of Jesus’ Time, Torah represented the whole of God’s revelation to humankind.

The concept of Torah in the Intertestamental period was enlarged to accommodate Torah as “Wisdom.” The author looked at God’s Kingship and Messiah from different perspectives of the O.T., the Apocryphal, Non-Apocalyptic, Pseudepigrapha, the Apocalypses, and the Qumran. The perspectives were summarized as “The Messiah comes and establishes a Messianic age on earth. The age comes to an end after a specified period. Then follow resurrection, the final judgment, and the new age.” The phrase “Kingdom of God” to any Jew would have signified the End Times rule of God, the establishment of God’s reign over all that would come in the final Time.

The author summed up the issue of Life after death in six Affirmations of the Israelite; but concluded with the word of Paul as expressed in Romans 8: 38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. The author also looked into the issues of Angels/Demons in the O.T., Angels/Demons in Intertestamental Literature, and Sin. Jesus’ example in Matt. 26:53 was cited to suggest the way of Christian responsibility. Christians are to assume responsibility for their actions, to look within themselves for the cause of evil, to ask for God’s forgiveness, and by the power of the Spirit, follow Jesus on the path of serving in Love. The book’s title was derived from Galatians 4: 4-5. The critical lessons the author seeks to teach are:

  1. God sent Forth His Son– Phillippians 2: 5-11; Father sending forth the Son, the pre-existent one who is God – John 1:1.
  2. Born of Woman through the chosen Virgin Mary
  3. Born under Law– Luke 2: 21-23; Matthew 5: 17-18; Exodus 13: 2, 12. Jesus cut through the Pharisees’ legalistic approach – Matt. 5: 21-22; 27-28; Mark 2: 23-28; 3: 1-6. Jesus claimed the authority of God for himself – Mark 2: 10
  4. To Redeem Those who were under the Law
  5. So that we might receive Adoption as Sons.


When The Time Had Fully Come” is a good study book of the Intertestamental Period. The title given to it is apt. The author used generously Jewish extra-biblical materials such as Josephus, Tannaitic literature, the Apocryphal, Pseudepigraphal, and Qumral. The pictures tell their own stories. The book is well packaged and durable, with an attractive typeface and cover. Another beautiful thing is the expert proofreading, and editorial effort put into it.

In this book, the author traces the history of the Intertestamental period to arrive at a just conclusion that God sent forth His Son to redeem us from our sins. The book’s core was that Jesus is God (divine) and fully human (born of a woman). Yet, the work does not seem complete. Apart from its exhaustive definition of the ‘Kingdom and the Messiah’ in chapter 10, the author did not reflect the personal opinion or define what the kingdom of God literally and spiritually means. There is a need for additional materials on the topic “The Kingdom and the Messiah,” given what is known as ‘Inaugurated Eschatology.’

I agree with the author’s conclusion on the matter of Life after death, and I also think that Paul’s word in Romans 8: 38-39 is one of the most meaningful statements in all of Scripture in dealing with the question of Life and death. The book is an exciting, helpful study for all Christians Disciples.

***Please Note that the Graphic on top is not the actual cover of the book.

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