Matzah. Yom Kippur. Hanakkuh. Classic trappings of the Jewish faith, and the Jewish faith only, correct? Well, yes and no.
If you’re a Christian, these customs are a part of your faith, too. That’s because Jesus was Jewish, versed in ancient Hebrew texts, observant of traditional Jewish holidays and feasts, and devoted to Jewish prayers. Why is this so important? Because as a first-century Jew, Jesus’ own worldview and culture holds startling insights for today’s faith community – and Christians especially.
In their new book, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith (Zondervan Hardcover) bestselling Christian author Ann Spangler and scholar Lois Tverberg explore the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. As more Christians seek a richer historical understanding of their faith, and the revolutionary figure who started it, the Jewishness of
Jesus cannot be ignored.
“As we tried to place ourselves in Jesus’ Jewish world, layer after layer of history seemed to peel away until we could almost imagine that, for a while we, too, had joined the disciples and were sitting at Jesus’ feet (p7).”
“As Christians we can never forget that the Bible is essentially a Jewish document,” say Spangler and Tverberg. “Once we begin to read it from a Jewish perspective, our experience will be transformed, as though we have just swapped an old black-and-white TV with its scratchy image for the latest flat screen, high-definition set. Suddenly the Bible takes on new depth and color as we read the familiar stories once again, this time from the perspective of its original audience.”
By examining the Jewish culture and customs that shaped Jesus’ daily life, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus offers readers fresh insights into his teachings. The book also includes sidebars that explain Hebrew words and traditions, as well as questions and suggestions to help Christians incorporate what they are learning in a way that respects their own spiritual journey.
“It’s not hard to become fascinated with Judaism for its own sake simply because of the antiquity of its traditions and because many of its practices are wise and biblical,” say Spangler and Tverberg.
“We believe that all of us can understand Jesus better by retuning our hearing and thinking. That is exactly what happened
to us the moment we began studying Jesus’ Jewish culture – passages that had previously left us cold or puzzled suddenly came to life. Lights turned on, and the mist began to clear.”
In an interview, Spangler and Tverberg are available to discuss:
- How Jesus’ Jewish upbringing shaped his life and ministry
- Christianity, with a side of challah: The meaning behind Jewish prayers and blessings
- Key Hebrew words that clarify and deepen Scriptural readings
- Rabbi Jesus: How Jesus taught his disciples to pray
- The political tensions and spiritual fervor of the first century
From the Back Cover
What would it be like to journey back to the first century and sit at the feet of Rabbi Jesus as one of his Jewish disciples? How would your understanding of the gospel have been shaped by the customs, beliefs, and traditions of the Jewish culture in which you lived?
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus takes you on a fascinating tour of the Jewish world of Jesus, offering inspirational insights that can transform your faith. Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg paint powerful scenes from Jesus’ ministry, immersing you in the prayers, feasts, history, culture, and customs that shaped Jesus and those who followed him.
You will hear the parables as they must have sounded to first-century Jews, powerful and surprising. You will join the conversations that were already going on among the rabbis of his day. You will watch with new understanding as the events of his life unfold. And you will emerge with new excitement about the roots of your own Christian faith.
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus will change the way you read Scripture and deepen your understanding of the life of Jesus. It will also help you to adapt the rich prayers and customs you learn about to your own life, in ways that both respect and enrich your Christian faith.
By looking at the Jewishness of Jesus, Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg take you on a captivating journey into the heart of Judaism, one that is both balanced and insightful, helping you to better understand and appreciate your own faith.
Download Free Excerpt
“I am very excited about Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus! With the rigor of a scientist, the drama of a story teller, and the passion of a disciple, Spangler and Tverberg present a stirring depiction of Jesus as a first century Jewish teacher which will greatly benefit the scholar and the lay person alike. Supported with careful analysis of ancient sources and recent archaeological discovery this study is a profound call to follow the Jesus of Scripture.”—Ray Vander Laan, Author and Founder of That the World May Know Ministries
“If we could turn the clock back to the Jewish world of the first century, what would it be like to follow in the footsteps of Jesus the Jew? This highly readable work is rooted in rabbinic sources and reflects current Gospel research. Spangler and Tverberg vibrantly introduce the reader to valuable aspects of the Jewish background, life style and teachings of the Rabbi from Galilee. Through their engaging personal style and reflective Judaic approach toward understanding biblical discipleship, Spangler and Tverberg have “hit a home run.” The authors draw their readers in to learn at the feet of the Rabbi and leave them begging for more.”— Marvin R. Wilson, PhD, Ockenga Professor of Biblical Studies, Gordon College, author of Our Father Abraham
“For disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) who know little about his Jewishness, including his rabbinic and Hebraic teaching style, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus is the place for them to start. Spangler and Tverberg have created the perfect introduction for the uninitiated. This book will have a deep impact on the thinking of ordinary Christians throughout the world.” —David Bivin, Author, Founder and Editor of Jerusalem Perspective
“Last year over a million pilgrims visited the Holy Land. Few however would have learned as much about the historical Jesus as you can by reading this terrific new work by Spangler and Tverberg. Drawing upon personal experiences as well as the latest Jewish and Christian scholarship in Israel, the authors skillfully guide you on a wonderful journey into Jesus’ first-century Jewish world—exploring his culture, his lifestyle as an itinerant sage, and his well honed rabbinic teaching methods and subtle but startling messianic claims. This book makes you really eager to sit at the Rabbi Jesus’ feet and learn from the One we joyously serve as both Messiah and Lord. I commend it to every follower of Jesus of Nazareth—Dwight A. Pryor, Founder and Director of the Center for Judaic-Christian Studies