Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ by Alfred Edersheim -- The chapters on trades and commerce were interesting as they shared the value of hard work and which trades were thought more highly of than others. Also it shared how certain tasks became more popular while the Jews were in captivity vs. when they were free.
I enjoyed the chapter on Pharisees and the common people and what they wore. I didn't know auburn hair was well-liked. And interesting fact about the nose ring being prohibited from being worn on the Sabbath. By the way, slaves were not permitted to grow beards (pg. 218). I learned the Pharisees added more of "their own glosses, interpretations, and traditions" to the law whereas the Sadducces were more "bare letter of the law" types (pg. 242). The Essenes reminded me a bit of a cross between the nuns of Catholicism and Sufis in Islam because of their practices. (pg. 245)
Synagogue worship was interesting and how they encouraged men to pray in the synagogues rather than their houses if a synagogue were in their community. (pg. 249)
Healing Stones by Nancy Rue & Stephen Arterburn -- I borrowed this Sullivan Crisp novel from Cindy. It's a modern woman-caught-in-adultery story featuring Demitria, Zach, Rich, Jayne, Christopher, Covenant Christian College and so forth. "Humble willingness -- an attitude before God."
Healing Waters by Nancy Rue & Stephen Arterburn -- another Sullivan Crisp novel and the next in the series; this tells the story of Lucia and her struggle with her weight and living in the shadow of her slender, beautiful and charismatic sister, Sonia. Due to a horrible accident Lucia finds herself living at Sonia's house and taking care of Bethany, Sonia's six-year-old daughter. This is a wonderful story of discovery and freedom. Other characters: Chip, Marnie, Wesley and her son James-Lawson, Sullivan (of course) ; This book like the other one deals a little with misguided theology and how suffering is not a result of God's disapproval of you and/or it happening to you because of lack of goodness or faith in your own life.
Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan by Norma Khouri -- This book was interesting in many ways partially because it was written by a Catholic woman who grew up as a dhimmah (the "protected minority" or as she also put it "not exactly an enemy, but closely watched second-class citizens" pg. 62) in a predominately-Muslim country. She shared the story of herself and her best friend, a Muslim named Dalia. The two of them had been great friends since they met at age three and remained close throughout their early adult years. They even opened and ran a hair salon together. Norma intrigued me with her references to the roles of women in her society and how so many of the traditions were based on ancient Bedouin codes. None of it was necessarily surprising in the sense that I'd not heard it before, but to hear a young Arab woman speak of her culture and society this way made it more real to me. I enjoyed talk about favorite Arabic foods and vacation spots in Jordan near the Dead Sea and Aqaba and her thoughts about many aspects of her society and her people.
Though Norma is quick to blame cultural practices and not Islam only because she shares how these barbaric practices cross all classes and religions in Jordan, she is especially hard on Islam since she believes its influence in the region for centuries has kept women down instead of allowing them to rise above these outdated practices. As she put it, "It is safe to say, I believe, that Islam is a totalitarian regime operating under the guise of religion" (pg. 60) then she explains how Islam dictates every aspect of its follower lives down to how to treat others, when and how to eat, drink, sleep, have sex and even how to use the bathroom --oh, and how to clean yourself properly afterward! Talk about controlling every aspect of your life! I suppose some believe we are in need of instruction for the most minute and intimate aspects of our lives.
Through Norma's words, I experienced the art of manipulating and deceiving the men in their lives just so a group of friends could go out together as normal people who want to eat and laugh and talk together. I was sad that they had to go to such measures for something as innocent as this just because of the controlling ways of the men in this society. Norma shared how Dalia's brother would wear western clothes and even go to bars -- all of this was forgivable for men. Though both sexes were bound by many rules the difference "of course, is that if men break any of these rules, they are to be forgiven. Women's limitations are harder to list simply because the list is continually being expanded and edited by both male lawmakers and the men in a woman's own family. And if a woman breaks any of the rules she's required to follow, she is not granted the luxury of forgiveness. She must be punished." (pg. 58)
For what it's worth, I wrote these previous words (up there ^) before I wrote this tirade against honor killings which I posted more than two weeks ago.
I was horrified when Dalia paid the ultimate price for her deceptiveness at the hands of her own father and sadly amazed when Norma's brother reacted to the news with an indifferent "she should have known better." Yeah...as if all women should expect such brutal treatment from men especially men of their own households. These people take that whole "I gave you life; I can take it from you" thing tooooooo far. In reality GOD gives life and He should be the one who can take it away. Not murdering fathers and brothers who happen to think their honor and dignity and reputation are more important than their own daughters and sisters! Curse your blasted honor, stupid men! (Just had to get that out...hehehe.)
Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose -- I got this off the new books shelf at the library. The author shared many interesting background stories about Anne Frank and her relationships with her mother and father and school friends. The author discussed the publication of her diary, its revisions and also how writing the plays and producing the films unfolded. She told how this book impacted world culture including how "Anne's diary has enabled readers to confront their troubled pasts" in places like Argentina, Chile, Guatemala and Ukraine. As one person put it, "'She was a victim of her society, but when you talk about her book, it gives people hope and inspiration. It's a catalyst. They begin to think that they can do something different.'" (p. 166).
Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish -- Deputy Ben Patil finds an abandoned newborn baby and he and his wife, Abbi, foster her. This fostering brings to light many of the issues they have and also helps them heal. Another main character is Matthew, a deaf boy who helps Abbi with yard work and watching the baby.
Jesus, Interrupted by Bart Ehrman is subtitled "Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them)" -- Instead of dealing with the devotional approach to the Bible, the author uses the historical-critical method. Of it he writes: "The historical-critical approach to the Bible does not assume that each author has the same message. It allows for the possibility that each author has his own perspective, his own views, his own understandings of what the Christian faith is and should be." (pg. 62) He continues, "Sometimes one author's understanding of a major issue is at odds with another author's, on such vital matters as who Christ is, how salvation is attained, and how the followers of Jesus are to live." (pg. 62) One example is how differently Mark and Luke present Jesus on the cross. Mark's message to persecuted believers who are suffering may be "rest assured: even though they may not see why they are suffering, God knows, and God is working behind the scenes to make suffering redemptive." Mark's version shows Jesus wanting to know why God left him to suffer this way. By contrast Luke portrays Jesus as knowing why he was on the cross and shows him looking out for others. The message to persecuted believers could be to show them that they, too, could be confident knowing that paradise awaits, God is there with them and they can look out for others while going through hard times. The author writes, "[The] Gospels, and all the books of the Bible, are distinct and should not be read as if they are all saying the same thing. ... Mark is different from Luke, and Matthew is different from John, as you can see by doing your own horizontal reading of their respective stories of the crucifixion. The historical approach to the Gospels allows each author's voice to be heard and refuses to conflate them into some kind of mega-Gospel that flattens the emphases of each one." (pg. 70)
I laughed towards the end of the book when the author said he frequently asks his classes how many believe the Bible is God's inspired word and nearly all hands go up. Then he asks how many have read it all and maybe only one or two have. He questions, "Hmmm, if God wrote a book, don't you think you should read it?" That struck me cute -- and true! :)
The author pointing out the beginnings of anti-Judaism within Christianity was of interest to me. Although I'm aware somewhat of how "Christian" circles mistreated Jews in Europe, it's still a bit surprising to me since most conservative Christians in my country are very favorable to Jews and the State of Israel. I read in the past how Americans were influenced by a pro-Jewish European (Darby) who was quite different than most "Christians" in Europe who were much less favorable to the Jewish people.
The author claims - unlike in the American South (where both he and I live about thirty minutes from one another) - to most Christians in the world the "Christian faith is about believing in Christ and worshiping God through him. It is not about belief in the Bible." He points us to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed which say nothing of the Bible. Indeed he claims, "In traditional Christianity the Bible itself has never been an object of faith." (pg. 225)