4.6 Stars Out Of 5
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4.8 out Of 5
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  1. Plong42
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Valuable Guide to the Jewish Roots of Christianity
    July 16, 2019
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book attempts to be "a comprehensive yet concise primer on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith." The book therefore contains a series of short articles on aspects of Judaism written from the perspective of Jewish Christianity. Co-editor David Mishkin is a faculty member of Israel College of the Bible in Netanya, Israel and contributor Erez Soref serves as president of ICB. Many contributors to this collection are also associated with ICB, but there are several sections written by New Testament scholars who have done significant work on their assigned topic. In addition to Craig Evans as an editor and contributor of two articles, there are three essays from Andreas Kstenberger, two each from George Guthrie, Scot McKnight, Brian Rosner, and Jason Matson and a section on early devotion to Jesus by Larry Hurtado.

    The book has thirteen chapters divided between four sections; each chapter has three to five subsections written by various contributors. Since this is a handbook, the subsections are brief and can be read individually. The book uses in-text citations and each section concludes with a Works Cited. These references can be used for further study of the individual topics.

    The titles for the four sections use a metaphor of an olive tree, beginning with the Soil (exploring the Jewish ground from which the Christian faith developed), the Roots (tracing the Jewish world, life and teaching of Jesus), the Trunk (developing the Jewishness of the disciples of Jesus and the apostle Paul) and finally the Branches (the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity).

    In the first part of the book surveys the Jewish soil from which Christianity developed. The first chapter examines God's plan for Israel by tracing various covenants in the Hebrew Bible. After an introductory chapter on the kingdom and covenants, there are short descriptions of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and New Covenants. Seth Postell discusses the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 15 and 17, concluding "the Abrahamic covenant provides God's unconditional commitment to restore the blessing through the provision of the seed and the land" (16).

    Chapter 2 reviews God's plan for the nations in the Torah, Prophets and Writings. The essays in this chapter recognize the nations as Israel's enemy and enticer, but also the salvation of the nations "in the last days." Like the second chapter, chapter three reviews messianic prophecies in the Torah, Prophets and Writings. The section on the Torah focuses on the "prophet like Moses." Brian Kinzel's section on messianic psalms is an excellent overview, including both Jewish and Christian interpretations of these Psalms. Craig Evans contributes a frustratingly brief section on the New Testament use of the Old. After about a page on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Evans divides the section into Matthew and John ("the two most Jewish gospels"), Mark and Luke, and Paul and Hebrews. Evans has a second contribution on the Jews and Judaism in the Gospel if John in chapter 9. It is impossible to do justice to Paul's use of the Old Testament in a half page. Although the handbook has a chapter on Paul, there is nothing more directly on his use of the Old Testament. Likewise, the complex exegesis of the book of Hebrews needs further explanation. Fortunately chapter 9 has a good section on Hebrews by George Guthrie.

    The fourth and fifth chapters deal with a few details of Second Temple Judaism. Chapter four surveys the "appointed times" (Sabbath, Passover, Shavuot, Purim and Hanukkah). For each special day, the authors provide a synopsis of the day in the Hebrew Bible, some discussion of the special days in the New Testament, and a short note on the practice today. Chapter 5 is entitled Tabernacle and Temple, although the chapter comprises two sections on the atonement and salvation in the Old Testament. A third section by George Guthrie concerns Jesus and the tabernacle/temple. He connects Second Temple period expectations of an eschatological Temple with Jesus's apocalyptic prophecies and the "cleansing" of the Temple. Further, he draws attention to Paul's teaching of the church as a temple of God (Eph 2:19-22) and Jesus's replacement of the Temple in the Gospel of John. This section could have including the superiority of Jesus to the tabernacle in Hebrews and the apocalyptic replacement of the Temple in Revelation.

    The second section of the book is focused on the life and teaching of Jesus as a representative of the Jewish world. Chapter 6 covers the archaeology, literature, social groups and institutions of Second Temple Judaism, including a section on Jewish messianic expectations prior to the time of Jesus. Sheila Gyllenberg contributes an excellent article on the archaeology of Jesus, briefly summarizing place names and material remains which bear on Jesus research. She contributes a second section in the chapter on the Jewish literature of the period, Jim Sibley surveys Second Temple social groups and Andreas Stutz has sections on Jewish institutions (synagogue, temple, etc) and Messianic expectations in the Second Temple period. After a short comment on general messianic expectations, he divides the expectations into three sections, Hellenistic Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Rabbinic Judaism.

    Chapter 7 examines the "Jewish life and identity of Jesus" beginning with Craig Evans's overview of the ministry of Jesus, Andreas Stutz gives a short piece on the Son of man in Daniel 7. Stutz points out Daniel 7:13-14 was "unequivocally related to the messiah" and that Jesus applied the title Son of Man to "exclusively and unambiguously to his return (see Matt 24:30; 26:64, Luke 21:26-27)" (158). Andreas Kstenberger contributes two sections to this chapter, one on the I Am statements in John and another on the trials and crucifixion. Finally in this section, Larry Hurtado gives a brief summary of his view on early Christian devotion to Jesus. For Hurtado, although Jesus was revered during his ministry, devotion to Jesus as God "seems to have been a major escalation in which the risen Jesus was given the kinds of reverence that are otherwise restricted to God" (175).

    After a short section by Kstenberger on Jesus as a rabbi, chapter 8 discusses two examples of Jesus' teaching, the Lord's Prayer and the Sermon on the Mount (both sections by Scot McKnight). McKnight points out Jesus was not a moral philosopher in the Greek (or modern) traditions, but a Jew, and Jewish ethics derive ultimately from God. Jesus's teaching is therefore based on the law, prophets and wisdom (189). Russell Morton has a short section on one of Jesus's most Jewish forms of teaching, the parables.

    The third section of the book ("the trunk") is devoted to the development of Christianity first by the Jewish disciples of Jesus (ch. 9) and then by Paul (ch. 10). The goal of both these chapters is to highlight the Jewishness of the earliest followers of Jesus. As Jim Sibley points out, the early church "did not need to conduct a careful search for its Jewish roots. It was entirely Jewish!" (206). For many Christians, Paul is an example of a Gentile Christianity which rejected the Law. But as Brian Rosner says in his section on Paul in modern scholarship, Paul was a Jew "who believed Jesus of Nazareth, Israel's long-awaited Messiah, had called him to the servant, prophetic, and priestly task of heralding the gospel to the nations" (235). Although Paul is clear the Gentile followers of Jesus are not "under the Law," he often has a positive view of the Law (242). Chapter 11 is devoted resurrection as key to the Jewish message of Christianity. Resurrection was anticipated in the Old Testament, developed in the Second Temple period and was the central to Paul's theology.

    The final section of the book concern the parting of the ways in early Judaism (David Mishkin), early Christianity (Jason Matson), and the Middle Ages (Ray Pritz). Although neither Mishkin nor Matson point to a specific event which forced Judaism and Christianity to develop in separate directions, Christianity's developing Christology and devotion to Jesus as God forced Jews to consider Christians as blasphemous (286, following Larry Hurtado and Michael Bird).

    The final chapter of the book offers some suggestions for the "mending of the ways." Erez Soref traces the roots of the Messianic movement in modern Israel. This movement includes both Jews and Arabs (302), an alliance which is not without its problems. Messianic Jews and evangelical Arabs often view one another with suspicion, but hope to have a "weighty missiological effect on a war-torn land" (306).

    Conclusion. A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith is just that, a handbook. As such, the articles are tantalizingly brief, but the authors provide sufficient bibliographical material to point interested readers in the right direction. Since many of the writers are associated with Israel College of the Bible or other Messianic Jewish organizations, some readers will find the perspective of the book too narrow. Given the purpose of the book to draw attention to the Jewish roots of Christianity, this should not be a reason to avoid the book. For readers interested in exploring the Jewish Christianity from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, this Handbook will be a valuable guide.

    NB: Thanks to Hendrickson for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

    Published on July 17, 2019 on Reading Acts.

  2. Bob on Books
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Concise Yet Thorough Treatment of Jewish Origins
    May 27, 2019
    Bob on Books
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    A variety of scholars have called attention to how important it is to understand the Jewish background to the ministry of Jesus and the origins and development of the Christian movement. This background is critical to understanding the New Testament, the relationship between the two testaments, and indeed, the relations between Jews and Christians.

    What makes this handbook distinctive from others that cover similar ground is that it is a multi-authored work, in which some of the contributors are well-known scholars like Scot McKnight, Larry Hurtado, Craig A. Evans, Andreas Kstenberger, and George H. Guthrie, and most of the rest are Jewish and/or Israeli citizens who believe in Jesus as Messiah and have had some affiliation with the Israel College of the Bible. Because of this, the book has something of an "insider" feel of those who have lived the context about which they write.

    The "Roots" in the title are reflective of the organization of the book around Soil, Roots, Trunk, and Branches. Here are the chapters under each:


    God's Plan for Israel

    God's Plan for the Nations

    Messianic Prophecies

    Appointed Times

    Tabernacle and Temple


    The Jewish World of Jesus

    The Jewish Life and Identity of Jesus

    The Jewish Teachings of Jesus


    The Jewish Disciples

    The Jewish Paul

    The Jewish Message: Resurrection


    The Parting of the Ways

    The Mending of the Ways

    While the title says this is a handbook, in the acknowledgements, the editors note that the impetus for this volume was an online course on the Jewish Roots of Christianity, and the book has the feel and continuity of a textbook, or supplemental text meant to be read sequentially, as I did for this review. That said, it was an engaging read that is both concise and surprisingly comprehensive, and reflective of recent scholarship. Each section of the chapter includes extensive bibliographies of source materials for further reading or research.

    There were both reminders of past reading, and some delightful gems. One was the reminder of how God's plan for Israel and the nations works hand in hand and runs through scripture. I loved this summary of the major Jewish holidays: "They tried to kill us; we won; let's eat!" The article on Jewish groups in the first century is essential reading for any student of the New Testament, as is the article on messianic expectations. Andreas J. Kstenberger helpfully shows how Jesus was like and unlike other rabbis. I had never seen the connection between the Lord's prayer and the Kaddish until Scot McKnight pointed it out in his article. Much ink has been spilled in recent years on Paul. The chapter on the Jewishness of Paul covers much of this ground quite concisely.

    A surprising chapter of this book was on the Jewish message of the resurrection. This argued for a much more significant basis for eschatological salvation, and eternal life, than one finds in most discussions of Jewish origins.

    In the concluding section, the authors include a helpful summary of the parting of Jewish and Christian communities and some of the sad history of enmity between these. I appreciated the hopeful note on which the handbook concluded in describing the Messianic Jewish presence in Israel, and the relationships formed through the Israel College of the Bible between Jewish and Arab Christian pastors.

    This is both a helpful reference work to have on one's self for biblical studies, and could be used as a text for an adult ed course on Jewish roots of the Christian faith or a college or seminary level course. It also makes for an enjoyable "refresher" course should one read through it.


    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
  3. Marilyn
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    The Roots of Christianity Explained
    March 31, 2019
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book is a historical, fact-filled look at Judaism and Christianity. The editors have used the articles from 24 different authors to produce a challenging, thought-provoking compendium of the Bible and the history of Christianity from a Jewish perspective. The editors: Dr. Craig Evans - a professor at Houston Baptist University in Texas and Dr. David Mishkin - a faculty member of the Israel College of the Bible in Netanya, Israel, have produced a scholarly, but accessible overview.

    If you are looking for a light, summer read, this isn't the book for you. If you are searching for a well-researched, organized look at the Jewish roots of the life and teachings of Jesus and His church, pull up a chair, get out some dictionaries, maps, and reference books, and begin your scholarly journey through the book's four divisions.

    The book itself is 307 pages, plus lists of modern authors which are cited in the work and ancient sources used. Each of the sections includes a bibliography of works cited. One of my few criticisms of the book is that it did not include maps showing the cities and countries in both ancient and modern times. Also, I would have liked a more complete glossary or dictionary of the technical and Hebrew words used. (For more about the last sentence, please see HINT at the end of this review.)

    I was given a copy of this paperback by the publisher. This did not influence my rating or critique. I am giving it 5 stars as it does exactly what the editors intended in its compilation.

    From the opening chapter, the various authors help the reader understand the Jewish background of Christianity. God's different covenants with mankind, God's promises, their fulfillment, and His faithfulness are discussed as history is woven together in an understandable tapestry. A discussion of God's plans for Israel and the nations is interesting. The articles on the feasts of Israel have some fascinating facts. The Temple, the Tabernacle, and Paul's and Peter's work are covered from their Jewish roots to their evangelism.

    Chapter 13, "The Mending of the Ways" is one of the most challenging discussions. Hope fills this story as it describes the work of Evangelical Arabs and Messianic Jews today as they work together to tell their peoples of the hope for peace found in the Messiah. The Great Commission is alive in these groups.

    HINT: As I finished this book, I received an ad from the publisher, Hendrickson, about a special price on The Complete Jewish Study Bible. I purchased it and have been delighted with my decision. First, it is a lovely addition to any library. Secondly, there are topical and thematic articles about the Jewish components of the Word. A glossary of Hebrew words into English (with pronunciations) and a glossary of English words into Hebrew helped answer many questions left unanswered from the book I had just read. A list of Old Testament quotations in the New Testament is included along with scripture readings used at various Jewish festivals. Maps can be found at the end of the Bible. This is not a complete review, but I just wanted you to know about this invaluable resource I found.

  4. JournalOfABibliophile
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    a great resource
    April 22, 2019
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith is an anthology (with OVER twenty contributors!) edited by Craig A. Evans and David Mishkin. Some of the contributors that stood out for me were Michael Brown, Eitan Bar and Golan Brosh (One For Israel Ministry). The beginning of the book has a list of all the contributors and their credentials.

    Don't worry! This is not a book about the Hebrew Roots Movement, Torah Observance, Sacred Name, or any of those other groups that I might have missed. This book covers topics like the Old Testament (Tanakh) background, Second Temple Judaism, early Christians, and modern-day believers.

    This was an incredibly easy and fast paced book to read. Each chapter is broken up into sections, and each section is authored by another person (I like anthologies, because it's a way to sample an author's writing style). You can either read the book from cover to cover, or skip around while you study individual topics.

    This is the perfect book for laymen wanting to learn more about the Old Testament, and how it points towards Christ. Believe it or not, this book is less than 400 pages, and it's packed full of information without unnecessary rambling (You know how sometimes you get a book on a topic and the author talks about their life, current events, etc?) This book just has Biblical and historical information without all the distractions.

    This book is broken up into four parts: The Soil, The Roots, The Trunk, and The Branches.

    The Soil talks about God's plan for Israel through the Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and other covenants, His plan through nations, Messianic Prophecies throughout the Old Testament, appointed times (feasts and festivals), and tabernacle and temple.

    The Roots is about the Jewish World during the first century, and the Jewish life of Jesus. This part talks about the land, archeology, Jewish groups, literature of the Second Temple Period, and what the Jewish Messianic expectations were. The parts on the Jewish life of Jesus go over His ministry, His "I am" and other divine statements, and His teachings and parables.

    The Trunk covers the Jewishness of the Gospels, the disciples and Paul's life and teachings, and the Branches goes over early Judaism and Christianity, the middle ages, and modern Jewish and Arab believers in Israel.

    The end of each section has a list of sources, and the end of the book includes an index of modern authors, ancient sources, and some pages full of black and white archeological photos.

    Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! I hope it inspires more Christians to reach out to Jews. Thank you to Hendrickson Publishers for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
  5. Vic
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Concise, Informative
    April 19, 2019
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith" is a volume of just over 300 pages. The book, edited by Craig A. Evans and David Mishkin, contains contributions from multiple scholars including Michael L. Brown (PhD, New York University), George H. Guthrie (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), and Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham) on a variety of topics relating to the Jewish origins of Christianity.

    The work begins with God's plan for Israel and features articles on the covenants of Scripture such as the Mosaic, Davidic, and New Covenants. The focus then shifts in the following chapters to God's plan for the nations, and messianic prophecy. Chapters 1 through 5 make up "The Soil" which is part 1 of 4. Parts 2 through 4 are "The Roots," "The Trunk," and "The Branches" and focus on topics like the Jewish identity of Messiah, his disciples, Paul, and the parting of early Judaism and early Christianity.

    I particularly enjoyed Jim R. Sibley's article on Jewish groups in the first century where he offers a concise, yet informative understanding of certain Jewish groups such as the Essenes, Pharisees, Scribes, which are somewhat aligned with the Pharisees, Zealots, Samaritans, ending with a portion on Jewish believers in Jesus.

    The format of the articles is nice. I like that it can be read linearly, from cover to cover, or used as reference, only reading an article or two that the reader finds relevant to research or interest. Each article ends with a works cited page instead of being placed in the back of the book. However, in the back one can find an index of modern authors and ancient sources, as well as figures from the book.

    Overall, I find the book informative on what it sets out to do. I know some Christians will be tentative to pick up this book in light of the "Hebrew Roots" movement, but I really enjoyed reading and I don't think fear of this book based on that would be justified. It's not necessarily light-reading, but certainly worth it for those interested in the Jewish roots of Christianity.

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.
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