Tuesday, May 26, 2015

They Loved the Torah by David Friedman

book cover
They Loved the Torah
by David Friedman, Ph.D.

ISBN-13: 9781880226940
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Messianic Jewish Publisher
Released: June 1, 2001

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Did Yeshua observe the Law? Did Paul teach his congregations to abandon the Torah? Was the devout Jew, Peter, persuaded that the Commandments were cancelled? Even though many Jews believe that Paul taught against the Law, this book disproves that notion. Dr. Friedman makes an excellent case for his premise that all the first followers of Messiah were not only Torah-observant, but also desired to spread their love for God's entire Word to the Gentiles to whom they preached.

My Review:
They Loved the Torah gives evidence that Jesus and his disciples were Torah-observant. I already assumed this was true since Jesus fulfilled the Torah (and was sinless) and his disciples were Jews. Rather than going in depth into an argument, the author would often refer the reader to another book or article for that information. I was left feeling like the substance of his arguments was elsewhere.

The author's arguments were mainly based on examples from the gospels and Acts. However, he sometimes based his argument on an unproven or shaky assumption. For example, he assumes that the common people wouldn't feel positively about Jesus if he wasn't Torah-observant. He gave examples of common people having a positive reaction to Jesus. Therefore, Jesus was Torah-observant. I don't accept his assumption. There have been cults and movements were the "Christian" leader didn't stick with the Bible but people still liked what they heard and followed that leader. Jewish history also contains examples of this. His stronger arguments involved actual examples of Jesus and his followers observing the Torah in one way or another.

Basically, I'm not sure these arguments are strong enough to convince someone who didn't start off at least partly agreeing with his views. If you already agree, then there isn't much reason to read this book.

I should mention that I don't agree with his belief (which is only briefly mentioned) that Jesus intended for Messianic Jews to continue to follow the Torah and that Messianic Jews (under guidance from the Holy Spirit) graciously decided that Gentiles only had to follow a small subset of the Laws. But he's not dogmatic about it.

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.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hebrews Through a Hebrew's Eyes by Stuart Sacks

book cover
Hebrews Through a Hebrew's Eyes
by Dr. Stuart Sacks

ISBN-13: 9781880226612
Paperback: 119 pages
Publisher: Messianic Jewish Publishers
Released: June 1, 1995

Source: Bought from Christianbook.com.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Written to Messianic Jews in the first century, the Book of Hebrews, understood properly through Jewish eyes, edifies and encourages all. This epistle is one of the outstanding theological treatises in the New Testament. This book teaches the message of this important letter in a fresh, new way. Dr. Stuart Sacks, himself a Messianic Jew, offers insights into Hebrews that only a Jewish believer in Yeshua can give.

My Review:
Hebrews Through a Hebrew's Eyes is a commentary loosely based around the book of Hebrews. The author doesn't comment on specific verses so much as talk about the basic ideas brought up in each chapter of Hebrews. He often started a chapter by telling about something from his Jewish education while growing up. He uses his Messianic Jewish viewpoint to help Christians (and interested Jews) to better understand Hebrews.

While interesting, much of it was information I've read in other "Jewish background to the New Testament" books. The author tended to move from one topic to another without warning, so I'd start to feel confused, realize we were on a new topic, and have to re-read the last few sentences to fully appreciate what he'd just said. It was worth reading, but I felt like I had to be fully mentally alert to read it due to how he slid from topic to topic.

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.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Insights on Romans by Charles R. Swindoll

book cover
Insights on Romans
by Charles R. Swindoll

ISBN-13: 9780310284307
Hardcover: 342 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: December 2009

Source: Bought from Christianbook.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Insights on Romans provides a wealth of colorful, detailed, and easy-to-understand insights into the book of Romans.

My Review:
Insights on Romans is a Bible commentary on the book of Romans. The author explained the meaning of various key Greek words to help the reader understand confusing passages and to bring out the full meaning of the text. He also provided information on the cultural and historical background and quoted similar statements made elsewhere in the Bible to help the reader fully understand the verses.

The book begins with an introduction explaining why Paul wrote the book. There was a timeline from 26 AD to 117 AD showing who was ruling and a black-and-white map showing the areas around the Mediterranean Sea.

The author then gave a paragraph or two of Scripture from Roman and then studied through that verse-by-verse. At the end of each section, he discussed how we can apply the writer's message to our own lives. He also included occasional "journal" pages were he talked about how those verses had been applied or worked out in his life.

Though you can look up information on just a single verse, this is more a Bible study book where it's assumed you'll read the whole book. Most of the sections focused on clarifying what the verses meant so the reader can better understand them. I appreciated that the author took a whole-Bible, balanced view of the verses, especially regarding the predestination (and free will) verses.

Overall, this book was easy to follow and understand. I'd recommend it to Christians who want to dig deeper into understanding Romans.

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.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.