Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review: Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life

Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg

As in her previous book, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (which I reviewed May 7), author Lois Tverberg believes that understanding the culture of the ancient world is critical to interpreting and applying the Bible to our own lives. For instance, while we may puzzle over phrases such as “the kingdom of God has arrived,” Jewish people would have understood that to proclaim the kingdom was in fact announcing the expected Messiah had arrived.

The title of the book refers to the fact that disciples of a rabbi were encouraged to walk so closely by him as they traveled the dusty roads of Israel that they literally walked in his dust. They didn't want to miss a word he said. And they not only walked with him, they lived with him as “apprentices,” observing and absorbing the fabric of his faith and life.

Did you know that Jesus’ reply to the lawyer who inquired about the greatest commandment began with the first line of the “Shema,” passages of scripture that were repeated twice daily to remind the Jewish people of their commitment to God? The entire Shema is included in the book’s back matter. And Jesus’ subsequent statement to love your neighbor comes straight from Leviticus.

I found it fascinating to learn that Jews saw biblical commands as “teaching” rather than “law” and eagerly studied. Each chapter ends with questions to apply the teaching to your own life. And the book concludes with extensive notes, a glossary, recommended resources, a scripture index and a general index.

This book will be an important addition to your library because it equips you to read the Bible with fresh eyes, open to truths you may have previously overlooked. Tverberg writes in an easy, understandable style. She has been writing and teaching about the Jewish background of Christianity for 15 years and cofounded the En-Gedi Resource Center, which seeks to deepen Christian understanding of the Bible in its cultural context. Her website is ourrabbijesus.com.



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