Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Jesus the Jewish Theologian by Brad H. Young

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Jesus the Jewish Theologian
by Brad H. Young


ISBN-13: 9781565630604
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers
Released: June 1, 1995

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
"Jesus the Jewish Theologian" establishes Jesus firmly within the context of first-century Judaism and shows how understanding Jesus' Jewishness is crucial for interpreting the New Testament and for understanding the nature of Christian faith. Insights from Jewish literature, archeology, and tradition help modern readers place Jesus within his original context. Particular attention is given to the Jewish roots of Jesus' teaching concerning the kingdom of God.


My Review:
Jesus the Jewish Theologian looks at Jesus' teachings and actions within the context of 1st-century Judaism. The author talked about what Jewish teachers around this time period were saying and doing that was similar to and provides insight into Jesus' words and actions. I found the information about inheritance as applied to the "Prodigal Son" parable to be very interesting. Much of the book focused on insights into Jesus' parables.

I have read other books that show how Jesus' teachings are more similar to the beliefs of Pharisees than the Sadducees and that he was joining in the debate going on within the Pharisees. However, this author stated that Jesus supported all of the Pharisees' teachings and implied that he was not in any conflict with them. He also explained how Pilate was a cruel man (and he was) who rightly bears the full blame for Jesus' crucifixion. I think the author went too far in reinterpreting what happened in an effort to fight anti-Semitism. Overall, though, I felt like this book was well worth reading for the insights gained into the meaning of Jesus parables.


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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Our Father Abraham by Marvin R. Wilson

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Our Father Abraham
by Marvin R. Wilson


ISBN-13: 9780802804235
Paperback: 395 pages
Publisher: Eerdmans
Released: April 1989

Source: Bought used.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Although the roots of Christianity run deep into Hebrew soil, many Christians are regrettably uninformed about the rich Hebrew heritage of the church. This book develops a historical perspective on the Jewish origins of the church, sets forth the importance and nature of Hebrew thought, discusses how the church can become more attuned to the Hebraic mind-set of Scripture, and offers practical suggestions for interaction between Jews and Christians.


My Review:
Our Father Abraham was written about 30 years ago and is academic in tone, so I prefer the more recent books I've read on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. Still, I found this worth reading. When speaking about Christian beliefs, the author would state an extreme view found in Protestant or Catholic Christianity and state it like it was the common Christian belief. This meant that he was often arguing against things my church doesn't actually believe. But, anyway, he feels that Christians ought to be more Jewish if they're going to follow Jesus' teaching correctly.

So he educates the reader about the Jewish mindset on topics like marriage and the family, valuing the aged, the land of Israel, education, worship, and the Passover. He also provided a brief history about how Christianity started to reject the Jewish heritage of their Jewish Jesus. He talked about how the Christian church got biblical teachings wrong because of this and urges Christians to learn more about the Jewish faith by getting to know Jews today.


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.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Case for Christ Devotional by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg

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The Case for Christ Daily Moment of Truth
by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg


ISBN-13: 9780310092025
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: Sept. 25, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Leading apologists for Christianity Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg offer fact-based, intelligent devotions to build a foundational faith. These 180 insightful writings will strengthen your spiritual knowledge and touch your heart with life-changing truth.

Each devotion is based on a scientific, historical, or biblical fact that will bolster your confidence in Christ. You will be inspired, encouraged, and equipped. A reflection at the end of each entry allows you to consider this new knowledge and how to put it into action.

In these thoughtful devotions Strobel and Mittelberg articulate the reasons why Christians believe what they believe. Topics range from scientific discoveries to theological explanations.


My Review:
The Case for Christ Daily Moment of Truth contains 180 devotions that focus on defending or explaining what Christians believe. Each devotion was two pages in length and started with a verse or two from the Bible. The body of the devotion usually began with a critical comment about Christianity by an atheist or non-Christian. This was followed by a counter argument by a Christian scholar or apologist (like Michael Behe, Craig Evans, Ravi Zacharias, C.S. Lewis, William Lane Craig, and the authors).

A large number of the devotions were taken from Lee Strobel's "Case for..." books, so they talked about things like evidence for God creating the universe and time (which they implied He did through the Big Bang), the question of suffering, and evidence for Jesus' divinity, life, resurrection, and death. Each devotion ended with a short thought for reflection. If you've read Strobel's books or other in-depth apologetics books, you probably won't find much new here. However, if you (or a friend) are interested but don't have the time to read those books, this is a nice, bite-sized way to get informed.


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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mornings with Bonhoeffer by Donald K. McKim

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Mornings with Bonhoeffer
by Donald K. McKim


ISBN-13: 9781501864810
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
These stirring words are just a sample of the wisdom found in this collection of 100 devotions that guide and inspire us. Mornings with Bonhoeffer provides an acute understanding of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theological perspectives, helping us to reflect on what his thoughts can mean for faith and the Christian experience. Short excerpts from Bonhoeffer's letters and passages from his sermons, paired with the daily devotions, offer timeless and moving reminders of God's love for humanity speaking to the "head" and "heart" of theological understanding and personal faith.


My Review:
Mornings with Bonhoeffer contains 100 short devotions based off of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theological writings. For each entry, there's the verse reference that you look up in your own Bible. It's usually a chunk of 4-12 verses which Bonhoeffer was referring to in that day's quote. Then there's a short, 1-3 sentence long quote from Bonhoeffer. Then the author wrote 4-5 paragraphs of commentary on the Bonhoeffer quote, usually re-quoting the day's quote as he went. He explained the context of the quote and where it came from, clarified what Bonhoeffer meant (though usually that was obvious), and left the reader with a core concept to meditate on throughout the day. Each entry was about 1.5 pages long and only took a few minutes to read. While the author usually stayed focused on Christ and used good, core Christian concepts in the devotions, I had thought there was going to be more of Bonhoeffer--the devotion being Bonhoeffer's writings themselves, not someone talking about what he said. So it was fine, just not what I'd expected.


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.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When Your Kid Is Hurting by Dr Kevin Leman

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When Your Kid Is Hurting
by Dr Kevin Leman


ISBN-13: 9780800723064
Hardcover: 273 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Children today live in an unpredictable, disruptive, and often violent world. Whether your child is dealing with a difficult family situation, bullies, the loss of friends, the death of a loved one, discrimination, abuse, a teen pregnancy, or even just trying to make sense of what they see in the news, this compassionate and practical book will help parents equip them to process, learn from, and rise above their situation.

Rather than seek to save them from the hard things, parents must teach their kids how to cope with and rise above their problems. Internationally known psychologist and bestselling author Dr. Kevin Leman shows parents how to be good listeners, tell the truth even when it's difficult, find balance between being protective and being overprotective, approach hurt and injustice as a learning experience rather than fostering a victim mentality, and much more.


My Review:
When Your Kid Is Hurting is a parenting advice book. The first half of the book looked at some things that parents should and shouldn't do when their kids are facing tough situations. The author also briefly covered issues that your child might hear and worry about (like a school shooting, rape, gang violence, discrimination, etc.) or might face (like divorce, adoption, abuse, pregnancy, bullying and cyber bullying, betrayal by a best friend, grief, etc.) and suggested some things you might say to help your child.

The second half of the book was Q&A: questions that people have asked the author regarding their specific situations and his responses. They were about common situations that you may also deal with. If you've read some of the author's other books, the advice might sound familiar, or at least similar. The advice was generally was good. While the author is a Christian, the advice was written assuming a secular audience and so didn't include a biblical aspect.


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.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Suffering by Paul David Tripp

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Suffering:
Gospel Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense
by Paul David Tripp


ISBN-13: 9781433556777
Hardback: 224 pages
Publisher: Crossway Books
Released: Sept. 30, 2018

Source: Advanced review copy of this book from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sometimes life doesn't make sense. When death, illness, unemployment, or a difficult relationship challenges everything we thought we knew, we can feel utterly unprepared to cope. Best-selling author Paul David Tripp weaves together his personal story, years of counseling experience, and biblical insights to help us in the midst of suffering, identifying 6 traps to avoid--including doubt, discouragement, and denial--and 6 comforts to embrace--including God's presence, God's people, and God's grace. Exploring a wide range of common experiences, this raw yet hope-filled book will empower readers to cling to God's promises when trials come and then move forward with the hope of the gospel.


My Review:
Suffering talked about the traps we can fall into (and why they're not helpful) and the hope that we have in God. The author talked about how anyone who suffers may ask "why?", doubt, be afraid, envy others who are doing well, be discouraged, and/or deny the seriousness of what they're facing. However, he shared stories of real people who took these to a degree that left them hopeless. They had a distorted view of God because they let circumstances define their view of God rather than looking to what the Bible says about God. The author also told his own story and how he was challenged in some of these ways.

He then talked about the hope we have if we look to what Scripture says about God and suffering. He quoted Scripture and explained why this is a comfort. Things like how we have hope because God is with us and will not forsake us. God is good and in control, but he cares more about our character than our comfort. Since the author has gone through and is continuing to suffer, you know he's thought through these things and isn't just giving the "standard answer." I felt that he had good theology and managed to convey it in a easy-to-understand and sympathetic manner. Overall, I'd recommend this insightful book.


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, September 20, 2018

Phoebe by Paula Gooder

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Phoebe
by Paula Gooder


ISBN-13: 9780830852451
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: IVP Academic
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sometime around 56 AD, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome. He entrusted this letter to Phoebe, whom he describes as the deacon of the church at Cenchreae and a patron of many. But who was this remarkable woman?

Biblical scholar and popular author and speaker Paula Gooder imagines Phoebe's story—who she was, the life she lived, and her first-century faith—and in doing so opens up Paul's world, giving a sense of the cultural and historical pressures that shaped his thinking and the faith of the early church. After the narrative, Gooder includes an extensive notes section with comments on the historical context, biographical details, cultural practices, and more. Rigorously researched, this is a book for anyone who wants to engage more deeply and imaginatively with Paul's theology.


My Review:
Phoebe is 72% historical fiction that begins in 56 AD, when the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome. The author's intent is to help Christians to better understand what it would have been like to live at that time. The story follows Phoebe as she delivered Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome and found healing from her past along with a better understanding of the freedom found in Christ.

Cultural and historical details were woven into the story along with things like the recipients debating what Paul meant, conflict between Jewish and Gentle believers and between non-believers and believers. She also included events recorded in the Bible, like references to Jesus' life and things like Paul's arrival in Rome in chains. The characters were engaging and acted realistically. I enjoyed the fiction section, and it was generally consistent with the information found in the Bible even if I didn't agree with how she portrayed some things.

The remaining 28% was end notes, which briefly explained things like why the author described Paul the way she did or how slavery worked in the Roman Empire. I found this section informative. But I was disappointed that in the end notes for the last few chapters (which focused more on events actually described in the Bible rather than fictionalized events), she apparently favored the opinion of those who doubt the historical accuracy of the Bible.


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.