Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The World Jesus Knew by Anne Punton

book cover
The World Jesus Knew:
Beliefs & customs from the time of Jesus
by Anne Punton

ISBN-13: 978-0825463365
Trade Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books
Released: March 31, 2010
2nd, revised edition

Source: Bought through Amazon.

Book Description from Back Cover:
The Bible reflects a culture very different from our own. This book transports us back to the beliefs and customs which lie behind the pages of the gospels, and allows us to appreciate more fully what we read. For example, many of Jesus' parables are based on agricultural images which make sense only when we understand oriental ways of working the land.

Each chapter covers a distinct aspect of the life of Jesus: the home Jesus entered; the education Jesus received; the clothes Jesus wore; the language Jesus spoke; the prayers Jesus prayed; agricultural methods Jesus observed; religious customs Jesus kept; festivals Jesus celebrated; the Scriptures Jesus read; the opposition Jesus faced, and more.

This book forms an invaluable reference tool, and includes 60 maps and photographs.

My Review:
The World Jesus Knew is a Bible backgrounds book about the time of Jesus. The focus was on what Jesus would have experienced (as a Jewish male raised in Galilee, etc.). This information was based on ancient sources (like the Mishnah) and archaeology.

A few sections, like about the day of Jesus' birth, were full of speculation, but the author was clear about how she got the idea and that it was speculation. Her speculations were reasonable even if her arguments didn't necessarily change my mind. There were some black and white photographs illustrating the text, like of clothing or agricultural tools.

The book was easy to read and understand, and I found it very interesting. She included some information that isn't often focused on. The topics that she talked about helped me to better understand the gospels. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who would like to better understand the time of Jesus and who'd also like a readable text rather than a more formal one.

Some of the topics covered were: betrothal, the day Jesus was born, his genealogy, circumcision, naming, purification after childbirth, redemption of the firstborn, the educational system, clothing, jewelry, prayer shawls and phylacteries, the language (with examples of certain words that don't translate easily into English), the countryside Jesus traveled, seasons, wells and springs, ploughing, sowing, reaping, threshing, winnowing, selling, buying, baking, types of common foods, hospitality, greetings, farewells, traveling, gates, bazaars, clean and unclean, vows, fasting, charity, the festivals, the temple and how it was run, prayers prayed, synagogues and how they were run, the scriptures Jesus read, pharisees, sadducees, scribes, priests, Levites, Herodians, Zealots, Samaritans, and Essenes.

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.

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