What if we could step back into the first-century world of Jesus and walk on a dusty road with him as one of his first Jewish disciples? What if we heard his teachings in the context of the rabbinic conversations that surrounded him?
Here we examine Jesus’ lifestyle as a first-century Jewish rabbi and look at how his words would have been understood within the larger framework of first-century Judaism. His words will grow in clarity and depth when seen in the light of their original setting.
David Bivin is the founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective magazine, Jerusalem, Israel. A life-long scholar of the Jewish background of the Gospels, Bivin has spoken internationally on Jesus' cultural context for more than 25 years. He is a founding member of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, a think-tank of Christian and Jewish scholars who study the first-century Jewish context of Jesus' life and teachings.
Available from the En-Gedi Online Resource Center
From Robin Sampson, Founder and President, Heart of Wisdom Publishing, Inc.
I was recently in a restaurant browsing a flip chart with pictures mouth watering luscious desserts. I ordered and eagerly waited the delicacy. Upon arrival I was delighted to find the dessert looked even better than the picture. On my first taste I was delighted to find it was much richer and taster than I anticipated. Such was my experience with David Bivin’s new book A New Look at the Difficult Words of Jesus. I have gained from David Bivin's research and writings from Jerusalem Perspective for several years. So when I heard about this new book I eagerly waited its arrival. On my first read taste I was delighted to find it was much richer and more exciting than I anticipated.
A New Look at the Difficult Words of Jesus is much more than its title portrays. Bivin goes far beyond explaining difficult passages. Bevin introduces you to Jesus in a new exciting and intriguing way. Philippians 3 says “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” We get to know people by learning about them, the more we learn the more we know. How can you learn about our Hebrew Lord without understanding the culture of His time? How can you understand His sayings that sound so strange to our Western ears unless you put them in the proper setting? This book will direct you to know Jesus and the Jewish background of the way he thought and taught. It is scholarly but an easy and enjoyable read. Bivin gives several examples of confusing passages from Greek translations that become immediately clear when translated back into Hebrew. This work is fascinating and one I will recommend to all my readers.
From Amazon customers:
Solid survey that illuminates some of Jesus's more "confusing" comments, December 18, 2005 - Reviewer: Albert Cerussi (Lake Forest, CA United States)
Bivin does a good job of explaining Jewish customs that affect our understanding of Yeshua. The opening chapters on discipleship, the life of a rabbi, and taking on a teacher's "yoke" are required reading for anyone who seeks a solid historical analysis of the background to the gospels. The section on the prayers of Yeshua is also very critical, but too short; you will definitely want to research this further after reading it. And the analysis on the famous Acts 15 passage is also quite insightful (although again not necessarily new, but quite clear and concise).
In all each section is pretty brief, easy to read, and answers a basic question such as "Why didn't Yeshua marry," or addresses a confusing point such as "Miracle on the Sea of Galilee." In fact, each chapter is basically a summary of articles that you can find on his website, entitled "Jerusalem Perspective."
David Bivin previously wrote a book, "Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus." Although I kind of liked that book, I was very disappointed with it because Bivin didn't make the case for the Hebrew gospels (i.e., written in Hebrew) that well and the use of Jewish idioms didn't really help explain some of Jesus's difficult words. The selected verses weren't that impressive. This time around however, Bivin's choice of difficult words was impressive. This time he really picked some tough ones (such as divorce, pacifism, the rich young ruler) that often frustrate Christian commentators. Although he doesn't advance the case for the Hebrew gospels per se, you will feel that at the very least the gospel writers thought in Hebrew because so many things fit well when viewed Hebraically.
In all, this is a very useful book that I think Messianic believers will find fruitful. It would be helpful for those new to the Jewish background of the gospels. For those who have been around, I think you might find some of the references and the arguments pretty helpful, even if you already agree with the positions. Assuredly a great read for anyone who seeks better background knowledge to the gospels, and ultimately to get to know their Messiah a little better.
Genuinely helpful, March 15, 2006
Reviewer: Craig Nissen (Sheldon, Iowa United States)
I would like to affirm the other review here, and add just a couple thoughts of my own. Many writers take scripture as it speaks to them and offer very compelling and often helpful applications for Christian thought and life. But usually those insights are drawn more from the writers own experience and personality than deep understanding of the words of scripture. David Bivin offers more than speculation in his writing. His teaching about the person of Jesus Christ, his mode of teaching, the meaning of his words, are drawn from a great depth of understanding of Jesus' time, culture, place, language, and audience.
His "Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus" is equally valuable.