If you've read books by Kenneth Bailey you will find this very familiar and, worthwhile. Although not as in-depth as Bailey (likely by choice) Burge has offered great insights into the world of the NT, from which we particularly in the the West are far removed. Burge elaborates culture, geography, achitecture, climate and some language to help us make sense of how Jesus spoke to his audience of 2000 years ago. By better understanding the context and social customs present in Jesus' day, we can get a much clearer and fuller understanding of what Jesus meant. This book is a little "lighter" reading than those by Kenneth Bailey on the same topics but it is replete with many high quality pictures and high gloss pages. A worthwhile addition to your cultural library.
"Jesus, the Middle Eastern Storyteller" is a useful Bible reference book. It gave some basic information on Middle Eastern storytelling techniques of Jesus' time period, then discussed cultural background information and the meaning of several parables: a friend that comes at midnight, a father's gifts, the great banquet, the good Samaritan, the servant forgiven of a huge debt, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, and the foolish rich farmer.The information was interesting and filled out what was happening in the parables, but most of it was not new to me and only once did it change my understanding of the meaning of the parable. I was a bit confused by how the author often stated that Westerners assume or teach certain things about a certain parable, yet I've never assumed that or heard such taught about it.The author also gave mini-sermons on how to apply the lessons of the parables to our own lives. The book contained lovely color photographs that illustrated what the text was referring to.Several times, the author briefly referred to details of an Old Testament story but gave the wrong information. (For example, he states Jacob sold his heritage for a pot of stew, yet it's Esau who sells his birthright. And he has Cain claiming to take a sevenfold revenge when it's God who makes that promise.) Fair or not, this made me wonder how carefully the author checked the accuracy of the other things he stated.Overall, the book was a quick read and easy to understand, and it's a good book on the parables of Jesus for those who can't get enough of this type of information or who wouldn't bother with a longer book.