Read the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
- Does the Bible make complete sense to you?
- When you read the Old Testament, do you grasp all the Messianic references to Jesus?
- Do the interpretation of Hebrew and Greek words hinder your understanding of the text?
As a modern reader, there’s more that we don’t understand about ancient Middle Eastern culture than what we do understand.
And it can affect what we believe and how we believe.
Author Lois Tverberg, a Christ-believer, writes books that help us understand the Jewish background of Christianity. The first two books, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus and Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, educate us about the Jewish religious customs during the time of Jesus’s ministry on earth. I learned much from both of them.
“I don’t think a day has gone by that some insight from the biblical world hasn’t made my reading more flavorful. Studying this way takes more time, of course. Not everyone has time to learn ancient languages, historical details, and cultural ideas, but you’ll be surprised how every little bit of learning is helpful.”
Now Lois has written an excellent third book in this genre, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding. Here she takes an expansive look at the cultural issues that hinder our understanding of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
“My goal is not to make you feel you need to adopt the lifestyle of the biblical world but to help you be willing to view life through its lens for just a little while.”
The three parts of the book are:
- Repacking Our Mental Bags: Tools for the Journey
- How the Bible Thinks: Big Picture Ideas that You Need to Understand
- Reading about the Messiah: Seeing Him through Hebrew Eyes
Each main section is broken down into small sections with a focus on one particular aspect, such as the broad color and brushstrokes of the Hebrew language, insights from a communal perspective, and learning to “think small.”
“Hebrew words often shed new light on difficult sayings in the Bible and can even challenge our theology. They also employ delightful imagery to illustrate their meaning, because very few abstract words exist in the language. As a result, Hebrew is firmly rooted in the real world of the physical senses.”
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“Hebrew also contains a smaller set of “pigments” than English—about eight thousand words, in comparison to one hundred thousand or more in our English language.”
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“The more I study the Bible, however, the more I’m realizing the many ways that an individualistic approach misunderstands the text. . . .
When we look for the “gospel” in the Gospels we search for an individual message of salvation. Instead, Jesus was speaking in terms of redeeming a whole people.”
At the end of each chapter, Lois includes a section called, “Tools and Reflection.” Here she gives us additional Bible texts to read and questions to ponder, as well as thoughts and resources for going deeper.
Put together, this information helps us know God more clearly.
And don’t we also want more understanding of our own role in the Kingdom? How can we do this?
“By seriously engaging with the Old Testament for itself and not just to mine for proof texts and predictions of Christ. By loving the family of our Lord by opening our ears to hear their epic story, and then joyfully listening to its echoes in the New Testament.”
I also enjoyed Appendix B in this book: Thirty Useful Hebrew Words for Bible Study. It includes this paragraph on Law:
“Law (torah—H8451) The “Law” to many Christians is an onerous obligation, a joyless taskmaster. But the Hebrew word actually means “instruction” or “guidance.” For instance, the noble wife of Proverbs 31 has a torah of hesed (teaching of kindness) on her tongue (Prov. 31:26; see also 13:14). Biblically, we should see God as a father lovingly teaching us how to live rather than a heartless lawmaker. This is one of the most misunderstood words in church tradition.”
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Read more from Lois at her website, Our Rabbi Jesus: His Jewish Life and Teaching.
Also, see this Q & A for a great synopsis of Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus.
Do you like to understand more context of the scriptures you read? Do you have a favorite resource you can share? Please let us know in the comments.
My thanks to NetGalley
for the review copy of this book
- Give This Kind of Grace Generously
- How Do You Enjoy the Word? A Free eKit
I love knowing the context of the scriptures! So friend, do you recommend reading these books in the order they were written or does that matter?
I think you would love these books, Selwyn! No, I don’t think the order is relevant. Each book is a stand-alone, and even though the overall message is similar between the three, the data she gives is different for each book. I wish I had hardcopies to share with you, but I only have them digitally. 🙁 That’s one downfall of ebooks.
Lisa, this sounds so helpful. Your suggestions in books have proven worthwhile. Thanks.
What a coincidence to read this review and what it reveals about the contents. I am currently reading The Burning Word by Judith Kunst that looks at this as well and it is a great read. I may have to check out this one as well since your reviews always send me to the book store!!
Blessings on your day!
I read her third book of this series – YIKES OUT OF ORDER> LOL – but not this one. I really do enjoy your viewpoint and it certainly has added depth to mine. Thanks for bringing my attention to this book, Lisa. Have a great weekend.
I’m making my way through the Bible again and this line jumped out at me:
God as a father lovingly teaching us how to live rather than a heartless lawmaker.
I was so fortunate to be able to take a seminary class entitled, “Grasping God’s Word.” I agree that sometimes we need aids in understanding God’s word from the perspective of His people at that time. I love getting out my “Hebrew and Greek” translations to get further depth on what God was saying. Know HOW to read the word is just as important as the act of reading it. So glad I tuned in here.
I need that book. It’s nice to read the Bible in a different way aside from the traditional. 🙂