Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler, Lois Tverberg

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus
by Ann Spangler, Lois Tverberg

Hardback: 254 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
First Released: 2009

Ann Spangler's Website
Lois Tverberg's Website
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Source: review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
A rare chance to know Jesus as his first disciples knew him.

What would it be like to journey back to the first century and sit at the feet of Rabbi Jesus as one of his Jewish disciples? How would your understanding of the gospel have been shaped by the customs, beliefs, and traditions of the Jewish culture in which you lived?

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus takes you on a fascinating tour of the Jewish world of Jesus, offering inspirational insights that can transform your faith. Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg paint powerful scenes from Jesus’ ministry, immersing you in the prayers, feasts, history, culture, and customs that shaped Jesus and those who followed him.

You will hear the parables as they must have sounded to first-century Jews, powerful and surprising. You will join the conversations that were already going on among the rabbis of his day. You will watch with new understanding as the events of his life unfold. And you will emerge with new excitement about the roots of your own Christian faith.

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus will change the way you read Scripture and deepen your understanding of the life of Jesus. It will also help you to adapt the rich prayers and customs you learn about to your own life, in ways that both respect and enrich your Christian faith.

By looking at the Jewishness of Jesus, Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg take you on a captivating journey into the heart of Judaism, one that is both balanced and insightful, helping you to better understand and appreciate your own faith.

Do you sometimes feel like you don't quite understand the parables on the Kingdom of Heaven? Or like you're missing the full meaning of the Sermon on the Mount? Have you ever wondered how the disciples would have understood Jesus' actions during the Last Supper?

I've read the Gospels numerous times and read many books about what life was like in Biblical times. Frankly, I didn't realize until now how much I was missing by not understanding the rabbinic teaching styles of the time (among other things). Despite all my study, most of this information was new.

This book opened up my understanding of the Gospels by allowing me to see the deeper, richer meaning that would have been understood all along by the Jewish audiences of Jesus' day.

The book consists of general cultural notes alternated with using that new knowledge to examine specific Gospel passages. However, this book isn't just an intellectual exercise--it'll have you digging into your Bible with new enthusiasm and will deepen your walk with God.

While Christians who have a solid foundational knowledge of the Gospels will probably get the most out of this book, I'd highly recommend it to any Christian who wants a deeper understanding of Christ and his teachings.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

If you're interested in reading this book, check out my ChristFocus Book Club for a chance at winning a free copy.

Excerpt from Chapter One
[starting on page 15] You are probably familiar with a dramatic gesture Mary made one day, sitting at the feet of Jesus once again. John 12:3 describes the scene like this: "Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."

Without understanding the cultural background in which this event occurred, it's easy to miss the full significance of Mary's gesture. What exactly was she trying to communicate? Jesus himself clarified one aspect of the story by commenting that Mary was preparing him for the day of his burial (Matt. 26:12). We understand that her act of devotion pointed toward Christ's death at the end of the week. But we miss something else that the disciples would have immediately realized, something so obvious that Jesus didn't even need to mention it. By anointing him with expensive fragrances, Mary may well have been making a statement about who she believed Jesus was, proclaiming him as Messiah. In fact, the Hebrew word for Messiah is Mashiach, which literally means "the Anointed One." Christos, or "Christ," is the Greek equivalent.

But why "the Anointed One?" The word "Messiah" alludes to the ceremony used to set apart someone chosen by God, like a king or a priest. Instead of being crowned during a coronation, Hebrew kings were anointed with sacred oil perfumed with extremely expensive spices. Only used for consecrating objects in the temple and for anointing priests and kings, the sacred anointing oil would have been more valuable than diamonds. The marvelous scent that it left behind acted like an invisible "crown," conferring an aura of holiness on its recipients. Everything and everyone with that unique fragrance was recognized as belonging to God in a special way.

[There's even more on the anointing, but I need to end this excerpt here!]

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