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Debbie from ChristFocus
2 Stars Out Of 5
More a devotional than historical/cultural look at prayer
November 10, 2014
Debbie from ChristFocus
After reading "Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Spangler & Tverberg," I was interested in learning more about Jewish prayers and praying in the first century. I expected "Praying Like the Jew, Jesus" to dig deeper into that information, but it only gave a little, easy-to-find information on that.
"Praying Like the Jew, Jesus" is mainly a series of sermons (or "devotional thoughts") about God. Each chapter started with a page containing prayers from the Bible or from Jewish tradition, like prayers spoken at the passover or at a wedding. He then wrote a fictional account of a scene from Jesus' life where this prayer or blessing happened or might have happened. Sometimes he wrote a page or two about the cultural aspects of the prayer, but he generally just launched into his sermon. The devotionals/sermons were ok, but they weren't why I had wanted the book.
The fictional parts didn't focus on providing cultural background information that would help the reader better understand the scene, like I had expected. I noticed some misleading, speculative, and even incorrect information in his fictional accounts. For the Passover scene, he wrote on page 82, "[Jesus]...ripped the bread into two jagged chunks...Yochanan tore off a small piece...and passed the chunk to Ya`akov." This sounds like a loaf of leavened bread, but unleavened bread (which is like a cracker) would have been used. The Passover meal started at sunset, yet the author had the sun setting ("fading sunlight," page 89) after they finished the Passover meal.
For an earlier fictional scene, the author had Simon Peter thinking of how embarrassed he was to follow Jesus and maybe he'd made a mistake in following Jesus since a physical kingdom wasn't in sight. Um, Peter was the one who said, You are the Messiah (Mark 8:29) and told Jesus (after a confusing sermon and Jesus asked if they would leave him): Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68) and so on. He was arguing about who would be first in the Kingdom up until after the Last Supper. If the author had used Judas Iscariot, at least his doubting would be consistent with the Biblical account.
If you're looking for a book focusing on the historical, Jewish background information regarding prayer, this isn't really a good source. If you want a devotional book on how unpredictable God is (with repeated comments about how people who prayed in the Bible often ended up tortured and/or dead--yup, that sure encourages me to pray!), then this book might interest you.
Wow! I have hundreds of books that Ive begun reading that get returned to the shelf unfinished. But this book was so incredible I couldn't put it down until I read the last page! Anyone who reads this book will be blessed by a deeper, more meaningful understanding of God as our father, and Jesus, as our Messiah and the magnitude of their love for us. Even fundamental words like "Blessed" are defined with extraordinary clarity and depth that immediately increased the maturity of my understanding. The author meticulously reveals how Jesus is the fulfillment of the ancient Jewish prayers as he recounts the major events in his life and ministry from his birth to his ascension into heaven. This book is a keeper that I will reread many times, I am sure!