Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review - Walking In The Dust Of Rabbi Jesus

Walking In The Dust Of Rabbi Jesus.
How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life

 Published by Zondervan, March 2012

I re- read some portions of this book several times before I started writing this review, carefully absorbing and digesting many of the concepts. The title refers to the tradition of a Rabbi's disciples walking so closely tho the Rabbi in order not to miss a word of his teachings that they would be covered in the dust raised by the Rabbi's footsteps, which is a beautiful mental picture.

First century Israel was a very different place from our twenty first century technologically-savvy western world, yet the message of Jesus is just as important to both, and it is far too easy to overlook the true radicality and depth of some of Jesus' teachings purely because we do not have much awareness of the political, historical, social and religious controverseies that were being debated and discussed at that time. This book addresses that deficit, and makes us more aware of what life was like in Jesus' world, and how his teachings resounded with his hearers, the early church, and began to change the world.

 I particularly enjoyed the many opportunities taken to explain what traditional Jewish teaching on various topics was, and how Jesus' teachings are totally saturated with Talmudic teaching and insights. By acknowledging and exploring the Jewishness of Jesus, Tverberg opens our eyes to  the riches of Jewish traditional understanding of the scriptures and of Jewish teaching relating to moral issues which also provide valuable illumination on the teachings of Christ.

The linguistic issues I found of great interest, and these highlight the problems of using translations of the bible which can rarely convey the full depth of meaning of the original texts. I had no idea that Biblical Hebrew had so few words compared to English, nor that each Hebrew word could hold so many meanings as a result.

This is a throughly enjoyable, easily read book and I hope that Lois Tverberg will continue to produce more books exploring these ideas.  Thoughtful comments at the end of each chapter for pondering and discussing make this book a valuable one for discussion or study groups as well as for the individual reader.

You can read a sample of the book here.

Many thanks to Zondervan for sending me a review digital copy of this book via NetGalley !
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