Book Review: Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus

What Jesus was saying was “something more.” That’s why I love, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg. She helps us dig into the something more of Jesus teaching. She does this not as a mere intellectual exercise, but realizing His presence and power at work in us today.

As the tag line of the title says, “How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life.” Lois dives into the background of words we read in English in the New Testament that have greater value when one values their Jewish background.

My favorite section of the book is Chapters 2-4 as she digs into the meaning of the Great Commandment. I knew about Jesus quoting the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4 as well as Leviticus 19:18. I had never heard before the translation “with all your very”. Matthew’s Gospel has loving God with all your heart, soul and mind. Mark’s Gospel has heart, soul, mind and strength. Why the difference? Dealing with the Hebrew in Deuteronomy 6 where it is heart, soul and all your very. All your very what? Exactly, it leaves it hanging a bit that led Mark to put mind and strength. All your very covers all of life. Lois comes at those words from various Jewish resources that help better understand what Jesus said and even more what Jesus means.

Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus consists of 3 parts:

Part I: Hearing Our Rabbi’s Words with New Ears

Lois shares core concepts that shed light on Jesus teaching. She peels back the layers of history and a Western world view to the Jewish background culture Jesus grew up in and spoke to during his 3 year ministry. Understanding  the Great Commandment is core to understanding Jesus teaching, Lois has made an incredible contribution to more fully realizing its meaning in my life. As chapter 1 states she, “breaks away the dust of the ages” so that we hear with new ears.

Part II: Living Out the Words of Rabbi Jesus

For English readers of the Gospel accounts, Jesus words at times are puzzling. Typically we zip through them until we get to the parts we understand. This part of the book looks at the Jewishness behind Jesus  speaking of “gaining a good eye”, or what  it means to “hallow” God’s name, or  my personal favorite in this part thinking through the paradoxes throughout the Bible — the balancing of on the one hand … on the other hand of Jewish thought. Such a balance leads to this understanding of God’s laws, on the one hand, be obedient … on the other hand, choose love.

On page 83, Lois reveals her intention in writing this book, “My thinking is that if you’ve discovered insights that bring you closer to God, you’re obligated to share them. To do so you need to be a bridge, not an island.”  In providing a deeper understanding of Jesus words and thoughts, she builds a bridge of understanding and life transformation.

Part III: Studying the Word with Rabbi Jesus

When Lois wrote of the Jewish understanding of study as a form of worship, she raised the value of study and worship. When she writes of God’s image stamped in the dust, she raised the value of God’s image, my self-image, and my image of others. Throughout the book we discover the depth of meaning in Jesus words, I learned to appreciate even more His words that I love so much.

At the end of each chapter there are study questions for personal reflection or small group study. The notes in the back are worth reading through for additional nuggets of insight as well as the glossary as a review of the Jewish words and concepts throughout the book. Those wanting to go deeper will find a list of recommended resources for further pursuit. Yes, I want to pursue. Don’t you?

Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus is a follow up to another great book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. I highly recommend reading both and unlike most sequels, this book is not a rehash of the first one. Both books dig deep with scholarly research the non-scholar can understand. The first book looked at Jewish feasts, prayer and how rabbis trained their followers. This second book digs into the Hebrew words from the Old Testament that Jesus quotes and develops further in the Gospel accounts. They both build on each other. I eagerly await to read the next one Lois writes.

I give Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus 5 out of 5 stars. The book provides great insights, stimulated my thinking, built my faith and provided a greater  perspective in living out life each day through the words of Jesus.

I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to give a positive review, just an honest one. Thank you Zondervan for publishing such a great book and for the opportunity to review an inspiring work.

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