Reader Appeal: Students, Pastors, Youth Pastors
Genre: Cultural / Historical Reference
FBSN Rating: B
One big obstacle to understanding the Bible, especially for younger Christians, is the enormous cultural differences between our modern society and the lives of the ancients. In an age of international democratization, media saturation, and moral intolerance, how are we supposed to understand throwback references to wineskins and casting lots, or to shearing sheep and obsolete Pharisaical laws?
With The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times, John A. Beck aims to help us bridge that experiential gap in our cultural understanding. Organized topically from A-Z, this book delivers historical background and cultural commentary on 100 different concepts from biblical times. Unlike other similar books, Beck doesn’t pick out a cultural setting (such as “family” or “work”) and expound on that. Instead, he focuses on keywords or key phrases that might be overlooked or misunderstand by an average reader of the biblical text. As such, his editorials cover unique subjects such as “Bury the Dead,” “Clap Hands,” “Flog,” “Greet,” “Shave,” “Wash Clothes,” and so on. That often makes for the discovery of an interesting, unexpected observation—but it also makes the book difficult to navigate as a whole. The keywords and phrases are so specific at times (for instance, “Naked” or “Smelt”), that it’s hard to set this next to your Bible and move seamlessly from one book to the other. Still, if you are willing to take the time to browse, Beck has valuable insight to share.
Recommended for casual reading, particularly for Bible history-lovers in your family.
The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times by John A. Beck
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