Understanding Jesus: Cultural Insights into the Words and Deeds of Christ  -     By: Joe Amaral
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Understanding Jesus: Cultural Insights into the Words and Deeds of Christ

FaithWords / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Description

Delve deep into the Jewish culture and traditions from two thousand years ago with Joe Amaral and you will discover a richer understanding of Jesus' words and actions in the Bible. Knowing more about the people, time and place of Jesus' birth will shed new light on how to apply Biblical truth in today's world.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: FaithWords
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 0446584762
ISBN-13: 9780446584760
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Modern-day Christians often bring their own presuppositions and assumptions to the reading of the Bible, not realizing how deeply their understanding of Christ's life and teachings is affected by a 21st-century worldview. In UNDERSTANDING JESUS, author Joe Amaral delves deep into Jewish history, societal mores, and cultural traditions, closing the gap created by geographical distance and over two thousand years of history. Using a chronological approach to the life of Christ, he guides the reader through significant events such as Jesus' birth, baptism, and crucifixion, pointing out illuminating details that that the Western mind would normally miss.
Amaral's premise is that to understand Jesus, we must understand the time and place in which he was born, the background from which he drew his illustrations, and the audience he spoke to. Throughout the book he explores specific terms, places, and events for their significance and shows how they add richness and meaning to the text. Topics include the connection between Jesus and John the Baptist, the annual Feasts and why they are important to modern Christianity, Jewish customs such as foot-washing, clean and unclean foods, paying tribute to political governments, and the significance of various miracles.
In UNDERSTANDING JESUS, Amaral draws back the curtain on a way of life that existed during the reign of the Caesars, and in doing so, reveals truths about the way we live more than two thousand years later, half a world away.

Author Bio

Joe Amaral was born in Portugal on the island of St. Miguel, and immigrated with his family to Toronto, Ontario, when he was two years old. A rebel against Christianity, he credits a youth pastor who "loved me unconditionally" with being a major factor in his conversion and subsequent decision to enter the ministry. He attended Eastern Pentecostal Bible College (now a Master's College and Seminary). In November 2002, he first visited Israel, and learned about the culture from his tour guide, a Messianic Jew. Today, along with his father-in-law, he operates a ministry called Operation Outreach, conducting tours of the Holy Land several times a year and teaching on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. He resides with his wife, Karen, and family in Ontario.

Editorial Reviews

"The fact that Jesus took on Jewish flesh means that we can't fully appreciate what He said and did unless we know the Jewish culture of His day. Joe Amaral sheds significant new light on the person and work of the Messiah and by digging deeper into the Hebraic roots of the New Testament text."—Wayne Hilsden, Senior Pastor, King of Kings Community, Jerusalem
Joe Amaral's UNDERSTANDING JESUS is a must read for anyone who is serious about determining the true meaning of Jesus' teachings. Amaral's knowledge of First Century Jewish life presents Jesus in His original cultural context. In doing so, many misunderstood or difficult passages are brought to life."—Dr. Dan Bahat, former District Archaeologist of Jerusalem
"Joe Amaral's insights into first century Jewish culture will be of great benefit for anyone who is looking to discover and understand the original meaning of Jesus' teachings. I recommend heartily this reader-friendly book."—Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College

Product Reviews

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(1)
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Quality:
4.4 out Of 5
(4.4 out of 5)
Value:
4.2 out Of 5
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Meets Expectations:
4.2 out Of 5
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80%
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Displaying items 1-5 of 5
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  1. Randall Banfield
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Better than I could of imagined.
    January 27, 2014
    Randall Banfield
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I thought I knew a lot about Jesus and the feasts of Israel...I learned so much more. Every word, every movement of Jesus had meaning and purpose. Love the book.
  2. Marlow
    Washington, D.C.
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    November 18, 2011
    Marlow
    Washington, D.C.
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Great book and author! Our Bible study group is totally enjoying studying the Jewish culture and the influence on Jesus. Well worth the read; be sure to take the time to explore the Jewish holidays and their meaning. This book helps us to understand Jesus and that time and how it all applies to us today.
  3. Irish
    Toronto
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Loved this book
    August 17, 2011
    Irish
    Toronto
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    So often we read the Bible from a 21st.Century mindset - This book helps you understand the culture of Jesus day and what some of His sayings meant from a 1st Century perspective.

    It also covered the Feasts of the Lord and gave me much more understanding of what they mean.

    I would highly recommend this book.
  4. Debbie from ChristFocus
    Harrison, AR
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    2 Stars Out Of 5
    Okay, but some highly speculative info & errors
    March 28, 2011
    Debbie from ChristFocus
    Harrison, AR
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 2
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    "Understanding Jesus" gave some cultural background information to the gospels and Revelation. The author spent most of the book exploring the Feasts of the Lord to provide insight into some things Jesus did and said. He also briefly covered information on the four messianic miracles, clean and unclean foods, binding and loosing, tear jars, fence laws, prayer shawls, and more.

    The author quoted large sections of Scripture before explaining the cultural insight he'd gained into those verses. This is good, but, of 180 pages of text, it seemed like only about half of them were spent explaining the cultural insights. Many of the topics weren't explored in-depth.

    Perhaps because of this, I sometimes felt his statements were misleading. For example, the way he explained the timing of John the Baptist's birth and Jesus' birth would lead the reader to believe everyone who has studied the topic agrees with his timeline. However, the timeline he gave is based on many assumptions, and not everyone agrees with those assumptions.

    Also, sometimes the author took an idea or tradition further than the evidence supported it. For example, on pages 28 and 29, he said that people took their burial shroud with them whenever they took a long journey. From this, he concluded that the "strips of cloth" that baby Jesus was wrapped in were from a burial shroud. I suppose this might be true, but babies have been swaddled for centuries. It's just as likely that Mary used stripes of cloth specifically intended for swaddling Jesus (since they knew she was near birth and would have been prepared for that) rather than hastily using a shroud to make swaddling stripes.

    Sometimes the information he gave conflicted with information that I've read elsewhere. Like he gave a slightly different order for the steps of a betrothal-wedding than the very detailed information given in "Women of the Bible" by Smith, Phillips, and Sanna. Amaral implied that the marriage was consummated before the wedding feast, but other sources say that the first day of the wedding feast is celebrated before the marriage is consummated.

    As another example, the information he gave on page 96 and 97 about the scarlet thread and the Day of Atonement doesn't actually match up with what the Rosh HaShanah 31b, Babylonian Talmud says on the topic.

    So some of the information in this book was solid and insightful, other parts sounded neat but were highly speculative, and some parts seemed to be in error or were potentially misleading.

    Personally, I'd recommend books that covered more certain topics and covered them in-depth (like "Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus" by Spangler, Lois Tverberg) before I'd recommend this one.

    I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.
  5. juliea
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    fascinating, insightful historical information
    March 23, 2011
    juliea
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I love this book. But I have to qualify that statement. I love this book, but not in the way where I want to just sit down and read it cover to cover. While Understanding Jesus is written in narrative style, author Joe Amaral is actually relating the findings of his extensive cultural and linguistsic research, making this more of a resource or reference book. It can be a lot to take in and digest; I read it in small doses to better manage all the information.

    In Understanding Jesus, Amaral basically deconstructs modern Biblical interpretations, coming to terms with the Hebraic basis of feasts, events, and expressions. This book is absolutely packed with fascinating historical facts and perspective. It adds a new dimension to my Bible reading, helping me feel more "in" the passages.

    I'm not sure of Amaral's writing background. At times, his writing does seem a little amateur, and the flow can be a bit awkward. Too, the lay-out makes me wonder if I'll ever be able to find a given idea again if I wanted to refer back to it. Nonetheless, I highly would recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy having a better understanding of the historical Hebraic roots of Christianity.

    Note: I believe it is very dangerous to blindly accept new Biblical interpretations that come our way, so I read this book with a very cautious mindset. Fortunately, I did not encounter ideas that tried to change my views; instead, a new depth was added to my current understanding.
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