You may have seen it on a bumper sticker, a tee-shirt, or a coffee mug—”My boss is a Jewish carpenter.” This catchy saying is an attempt to express the Jewish background of the Christian faith. The expression “Jewish roots” describes a relationship between Judaism and the church that involves so much more than the bland term “background”—roots are so much more than the background or setting of a tree. Roots are organically connected to the stem, branches, leaves, and seeds of any plant, and so it is with the church and the Jews. Both are rooted in the grace of God, expressed in biblical promises going back to Abraham in Genesis 12. Here’s a book that will help you understand your roots. Dig it?
In this post I preview Tim Gombis’s recent book Power in Weakness and link to a conversation I had with Tim about the book. It’s appropriate that we focus on this book during the Easter Season, when we commemorate the events that first transformed Paul’s vision for ministry. Paul encountered the risen and exalted Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. There he began to understand cruciformity. Easter is never over. It’s the beginning, not the end.
Insistence on awareness of contemporary culture begs a crucial question. How can we apply the Bible to current cultures if we are ignorant of the ancient cultures from which the Bible originates? The text doesn’t mean today what it never meant then. As the publishers of BIBBC put it, We are far removed from the time and culture of the biblical world, and this distance easily leads to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Our understanding and appreciation of God’s Word increase exponentially when we know the historical and cultural context in which the biblical books were written.
Recently I sat down with Jonathan Greer and John Hilber to talk about Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament, a recent book they edited with John Walton. We spoke of the need for such a book, how it was put together, and who should read it. Greer, Hilber, and Walton rightly believe that we best understand the meaning of the Old Testament for the world today when we understand the world to which it was originally written.
When I began teaching, I never thought I would write a book on the Gospels and Acts. Back then it was all about Paul.