Author Equips Readers with Tools to Read the Bible as a First-Century Disciple

(This is the press release for my book, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus)

Wrinkles and gray hair in the mirror. Rain in the forecast. Gaining a clothing size. Modern Bible readers view all of these as negatives, but in the biblical world, just the opposite would have been true.

Old age was an advantage when elders were chosen as leaders, and rain was an occasion for rejoicing in the parched Middle East. Beauty was associated with gaining weight because hunger was a common struggle. Cultural differences large and small separate modern readers from how the Bible “thinks.”

In her new book Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding, bestselling author Lois Tverberg digs into a rich repository of knowledge to shed light on many puzzling passages whose cultural meaning would otherwise escape us.

By illuminating the language, culture and imagery of the Bible, Tverberg equips modern readers to read the Bible as Jesus and his disciples would have. In the process, she helps readers realize that the Bible speaks with a “Jewish accent.”

By opening reader’s eyes to the way Middle Eastern people would have understood Jesus, Tverberg takes them on a journey that will deepen their love of this very Jewish book, enriching their lives in the process.

“God often expressed his truth to ancient listeners in…

“…and God has made me fat!”

Seeing how other cultures think can be quite helpful for understanding the Bible. Dieting and weight gain are particularly interesting topics to explore.

Consider the surprising experience some friends of mine had on a short-term missions trip to Uganda. They were invited to visit a local prayer group where women were standing up and sharing their testimonies.

One lady told about her life of woe, recounting her many struggles with crop failure, ill health and money problems. The Lord had answered her prayers, though, one by one. At the culmination of her speech, she patted her rounded belly as her voice triumphantly proclaimed,

“…and God has made me fat!”

You can imagine the chuckling among my friends who were visiting. We can hardly imagine celebrating our expanding waistlines. But in Africa, being fat is a sign of health and prosperity, because hunger is a common problem.

 

 

A Proper Double Chin

Believe it or not, people in the biblical world had the same attitude—that a little extra weight was a positive, not a negative thing. The beautiful woman of Song of Songs was complemented for her ample belly:

Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. (Song of Songs 7:2).

Likewise Proverbs 13:4 says,

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
But the soul of the…