Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding

by Lois Tverberg


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What would it be like for modern readers to sit down beside Jesus as he explained the Bible to them? What life-changing insights might emerge from such a transformative encounter?

Lois Tverberg knows the treasures that await readers willing to learn how to read the Bible through Jewish eyes. By helping them understand the Bible as Jesus and his first-century listeners would have, she bridges the gaps of time and culture in order to open the Bible to readers today.

Combining careful research with engaging prose, Tverberg leads us on a journey back in time to shed light on how this Middle Eastern people approached life, God, and each other. She explains age-old imagery that we often misinterpret, allowing us to approach God and the stories and teachings of Scripture with new eyes. By helping readers grasp the perspective of its original audience, she equips them to read the Bible in ways that will enrich their lives and deepen their understanding.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801093968
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/21/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 151,445
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Lois Tverberg has been speaking and writing about the Jewish background of Christianity for the past 20 years. Her passion is to translate the Bible's ancient setting into fresh insights that deepen and strengthen Christian faith. She is cofounder of the En-Gedi Resource Center, an educational ministry with a goal of deepening Christian understanding of the Bible in its original context. A former professor, Tverberg currently lives in Holland, Michigan, and speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats. Learn more at

Table of Contents

1 Opening the Bible with Jesus: Emmaus Is Still There 9

Part 1 Repacking Our Mental: Bags Tools for the Journey

2 Learning to Be There: A Clash of Cultures 23

3 What Does "Christ" Mean, Anyway?: A Perplexing Word 42

4 Painting in Hebrew: Bold Colors, Broad Brushstrokes 60

Part 2 How the Bible Thinks: Big Picture Ideas That You Need to Understand

5 Greek Brain, Hebrew Brain: Cows, Creeds, and Concrete Metaphors 83

6 Why Jesus Needs Those Boring "Begats": Knowing the Family Rules 113

7 Reading the Bible as a "We": Insights from a Communal Perspective 131

8 Like Grasshoppers in Our Own Eyes: Learning to "Think Small" 158

Part 3 Reading about the Messiah: Seeing Him through Hebrew Eyes

9 Memory Is Critical: Hinting at the Scriptures 179

10 Moses and the Prophets Have Spoken: Finding Promises in the Synagogue 193

11 Reading in the Third Dimension: Listening for Echoes in the Text 209

12 Jesus' Bold Messianic Claims: Very Subtle, Very Jewish 222

13 When the Words Catch Fire: What We Miss in Isaiah 53 238

Acknowledgments 251

Appendix A Books of the Tanakh 253

Appendix B Thirty Useful Hebrew Words for Bible Study 255

Appendix C Bible Translations for Word Study 261

Notes 264

Recommended Resources 274

Subject Index 277

Scripture Index 284

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Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Teresa More than 1 year ago
Oh, How I Love This Book!!! This is such a beautifully written book that adds such a richness to Bible reading and Bible study. I will be reading it over and over again and I will be using the great resources in the appendix. I highly recommend Reading the Bible With Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding by Lois Tverberg. I am so grateful that I received a copy of this awesome book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an easy to read little book, written by a Christian woman who has learned Hebrew and Greek, has studied and spent a great deal of time in Israel, and has made her life's work exploring "Jesus’ first-century Jewish world". She believes that nobody can really understand the New Testament without understanding the Old Testament culture, language, and people from which it came, and I cannot agree more. In fact, after reading it, I'm convinced that it should be required reading for all Christians. Note that I joined a group to discuss the book with other readers who, like me, were interested in the topic and received a free copy of the book from the publisher. Note also that all of the opinions expressed here are totally my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I've read this book, I've been SO impressed with Lois' ability to communicate intricate cultural nuances in such a clear & readable manner! This information has helped me to read the Bible with fresh eyes as Lois transports us back to the Biblical culture & times. This is an amazing work that should be read by anyone who would like to more fully understand the ancient truths found in the scriptures. I received this book from the publisher to review in advance & my opinions about it are fully my own. I highly recommend it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are a handful of books that have challenged me and changed the way I look at the Bible and forced me to grow in my knowledge of God; this is one of them. The book is filled with so many ideas that I've never contemplated or never thought to meditate on. The author's explanation of Jewish culture, context, scriptures and study habits and how those all effected Jesus and the way he taught have completely challenged what I thought I knew about the Bible. She explains how our Western way of thinking stands in the way of our understanding of Christ's teachings...our very way of thinking! She also points out in a very clear and well deserved criticism of the church that we are woefully uneducated in the Old Testament and Prophets...that in order for us as individuals and the Western church at large to have the veil lifted from our eyes, we need to humble ourselves and return to the ancient teachings and mediation habits. If you grew up in the Western world and have ever thought that you know the Bible and it's teachings, that the gospels seemed simplistic or the Old Testament was out of touch, then you must read this book and see for yourself. Judge for yourself, evaluate for yourself if there isn't so much more contained in the pages of your Bible that you never even knew existed. Make sure you get all the way to the end of this book, the most valuable teachings are in the warned, don't miss them!
summer_no9 More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing writing and compelling to read with also encouraging and insight to discovery of unfolds in the Scriptures that had been unknown with this book will helping you mentally transport yourself back in place and time to read the Bible a fresh, as one of Jesus in first century disciples. I highly recommend to everyone must to read this book. “I received complimentary a copy of this book from Baker Books Bloggers for this review”.
JViola79 More than 1 year ago
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to sit and have the Scriptures explained to you by a rabbi? I am currently in the middle of Reading The Bible With Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg. The problem with this book is it is easy to read and hard to put down. The Scriptures spring open to life when we understand and bridge the cultural gap between the Middle Eastern, Jewish world and our own today. The author leads us to imagine how the people in Scripture approached life differently than we do and how God spoke to them on their terms. Often we miss the hidden hues because we do not understand their culture and their days. The author encourages us to be there when reading the Bible. asserting that this is the best advice she can give us. We need to make a lifelong project out of understanding what the Scriptures meant in their day and then consider the implications for our own days now. Without this sense, we will miss out on the significance of metaphors , imagery, and emotions meant to be conveyed and experienced. I will admit, I am still in the middle of reading this book. However, I cannot say enough about it. This is one of the best books I have read to help convey meaning and context from the times and lands in which Scripture is set. I am finding myself understanding so much more depth of meaning from my reading. Truly my American thinking is a hindrance if this is the only perspective with which I read. Each chapter includes Tools and Reflections with recommended Scriptures and questions. Also included are Thoughts for Going Deeper which are helpful for deeper study. This book is a wonderful resource for everyone and is one I will refer to time and time again. ** I was provided a copy of this book by Baker Books Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.
ShareeS More than 1 year ago
Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus is beyond an entertaining or educational experience. It’s beyond a bible study. It’s the kind of book you keep close for reference, soaking in every word. Lois Tverberg writes like no one else I’ve read. Her talent and commitment for showing the truth in scripture with the authenticity and richness of Jewish culture creates a full experience for the reader. Understanding Jewish tradition and perspective are vital, and this book begins with a powerful invitation. “It’s entirely possible for a person to expend a great deal of energy getting to a destination, yet arrive there with their head and thoughts remaining at the original point of departure.” (Page 25). Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus is the best investment I’ve made, and I give this book five out of five stars. It’s a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a disciple of Rabbi Jesus, I often find myself wondering what it would have been like to walk ancient roads with him, listening to him teach, seeing him heal, watching him interact with both the poor and the powerful. Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus offers a chance to once again, walk with the rabbi. Lois Tverberg’s previous books, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, and Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, brought amazing insights and changed my understanding of Jesus. This third book in the series continues the excellent but accessible scholarship. Anyone studying Scripture should ask not just “what does it mean now?” but “what did it mean then?” Tverberg dives not only into Hebrew words, but also looks at the culture Jesus lived in, and the wide gap that divides that culture with ours. She writes: “ a cultural gap separates us from a world that longs for a mighty ruler. Living in a safe society, we can’t relate to this widespread longing for protection and justice. We read biblical imagery and call it ‘primitive’ and ‘violent’ because we have little concept of the harsh reality that many in the world endure even now.” This book is an important one, because of the tragic decline in biblical literacy in our culture. It’s a reminder that the gospels, which tell Jesus’ life story, were written in a cultural and religious context. That religious context especially was based on the Jewish scriptures, which Christians call the Old Testament. In some ways, this book reminded me of Philip Yancey’s book from years ago, The Bible Jesus Read. We need to understand not only the words of the Old Testament, but its culture as well, in order to fully understand Jesus and his message. Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus unpacks for the reader some of the important aspects of culture that influenced not just what happened before Jesus was born, but how people would understand him as he taught and healed and interacted with the people of his day. This book helped me understand more deeply the ancient setting of the Bible, and just how radical not only Jesus was, but how radical God is, and was. I love this quote about the Torah: “The idea that human life was uniquely precious to God was radical, unparalleled. To us it is second nature, but this was a shocking notion in the world of the ancient Near East.” If you ever find yourself puzzled by the Bible or wanting to understand Jesus in a deeper way, read this book. I highly recommend it. (I received a free review copy of the book, but this review is completely my opinion.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author Lois Tverberg states her purpose in writing Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus in the first pages: "to look at some ways we can mentally bridge the culture gap between [Jesus'] Middle Eastern, Jewish world and ours in order to read the Bible as natives. How can ordinary Christians be equipped to read the Bible from the Hebraic perspective of its first readers?" Reading this book is a great help toward that goal for all Bible readers. I was already aware that interpreting the Bible well means understanding it from the perspective of the original readers but I wasn't always sure of how to get that understanding. This book is a huge help! It strikes a good balance between eye-crossing academic writing and overly simplistic, basic information. The first surprise for me was learning that understanding the cultural differences is a bigger challenge than the time difference. Lois explained this so well that I was convinced quickly. This section helped me see that, when I don't understand a Bible verse or passage, I should look for cultural differences that might be obscuring the meaning. I knew "Messiah" means "anointed one" but not so much about how that refers to being a king nor what the implications of kingship are. I thought of British royalty, but after reading this book, I get it very clearly! I learned a lot about how Jews knew Scripture very thoroughly and made references to Old Testament texts, which the original audiences knew and understood immediately, but that are lost on many modern readers, because we don't know the Old Testament very well. I haven't ignored the OT, but I have missed the New Testament connections. Now, after reading Lois's book, I see how very important that is to more fully understanding the all of the Bible. One other thing I really like about this book is that the author tells about things she misunderstood before she began studying first-century culture and language and what she learned about specific topics. She takes her place as a learner, not as an "I'm above you" or "I'm smarter than you" know-it-all. It makes her come across as friendly and approachable. These are just a few examples of some of the great aspects of Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus. It's been a compelling book that I have really enjoyed. I would include some things that could be improved if I could identify any. (I'll revise my review if something comes to mind.) I received this book from the publisher to review in advance, and my opinions about it are my own. I highly recommend it without any reservations!