I’ve always enjoyed discovering the answers to head-scratching questions and sharing the “ah-hah” moments with others. For years I did this as a professor of Biology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where I taught physiology and molecular & cell biology. I received my Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1993.
I grew up in a devout family – my grandparents were Lutheran missionaries in Madagascar, and Christian books overflowed from the shelves of my home. About fifteen years ago I began studying the Bible in its cultural setting. Suddenly I started finding answers to questions that had bothered me for ages, and many insights that deepened my faith. Over the years I’ve taken courses in Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek, and traveled to study in Israel several times.
In January 2001 I co-founded an educational ministry called the En-Gedi Resource Center. There I began writing on the cultural context of the Bible. Many of my older articles are still available on that website. In 2004, we published my first book, Listening to the Language of the Bible. It is a devotional guide to Hebrew words and ideas that unlock the Scriptures. A Companion Bible Study for that book is also available. In 2006, I worked with David Bivin to edit his book New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: Insights from His Jewish Context.
In January 2007, I became a freelance writer and speaker on the Jewish context of Jesus. That was when I partnered with Ann Spangler, best-selling Christian author (Praying the Names of God, Women of God) to write Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. (Zondervan, 2009) The book explores the first-century world of rabbis and disciples, Jewish prayer, the feasts and the Torah, and how understanding Jesus within all of these realities gives new richness to his teachings.
Recently I finished my latest book, called Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus (Zondervan 2012). This is a follow-up to Sitting at the Feet that goes a level deeper. It looks at some of Jesus’ key teachings that have greater meaning within Jewish thought and Eastern culture, and asks how these insights can give us wisdom for living as his disciples today. Six excerpts are available in the “Articles” section of this site. A three-chapter preview is also available from Zondervan.