Note: I’m passionate about studying the Bible and learning to follow our Messiah, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review this book.
In today’s world, we recognize the need to understand and respect cultural differences. Besides being necessary, it’s hugely enriching! How much more, then, should Christians become more familiar with the culture and viewpoint of the people for whom the Bible was first written? It would help us better understand the Word of God that we live by. Lois Tverberg’s book is a compelling path into the Hebraic culture of Bible times, enjoyable and accessible for readers at all levels of biblical knowledge. It’s perfect for Bible study groups because each chapter has questions for further discussion at the end, as well as recommended reading for further study.
First and foremost, Tverberg’s book is significant because it puts Jesus back in His Jewish context while fully upholding the tenets of our faith. It explores Messianic prophecies, how they were viewed in His time, and how He fulfilled them. (I got chills reading about Isaiah 53.) This book explains how He claimed to be the Messiah in ways that non-Jews might miss.
The book also shows how understanding the cultural context and historicity of the Bible is faith-affirming. If there’s something that our Western minds can’t grasp, we’re apt to dismiss its veracity. But when we get a glimpse of the radically different mindset of non-Euro-American civilizations, we realize that what we questioned makes perfect sense to the other half of the world’s population. I enjoyed learning about the differences, especially the ones that explain some confusing parts of the Bible (such as why the “begat” sections are important).
I loved how Tverberg examined the full meaning of the Hebrew words behind terms that are pivotal to our faith, such as Christ, gospel, king, and fear/reverence. There’s an appendix called “Thirty Useful Hebrew Words for Bible Study,” a wonderful resource that curates the words she talked about in the book as well as words she didn’t cover.
The section on how Jews read the Bible was also very enlightening. As the book depicts, adopting some of their methods would be beneficial to Christians in our search to better know God’s Word and understand our Messiah. It’s amazing how they memorized it, how they connected it, how they quoted from it … and what a sophisticated scholar Yeshua was.
There’s so much more I could say in praise of this book, but probably the best thing I could do is encourage you to read it. It will deepen your appreciation for God’s message to humanity and for His chosen people, and it will remind you of His greatness!
(I was graciously provided a copy of this book for my honest review.)