An Aid to Cultural Context: Find This Book and Read It! (Part 5)

By Beth Guckenberger


Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus
Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009

This book came across my path several months after I returned from a trip to Israel. I had been talking nonstop about the insights I had gained while there and was fascinated by the cultural context I hadn’t understood before my visit. I read Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus in two days, taking notes on my laptop, thinking of all the people I wanted to read it.

The book outlines Jewish culture and historical context for the lay reader. It has nuggets of information that illuminate familiar passages in extraordinary ways. It hooks you from the beginning and is very readable.

One of my favorite concepts is illustrated by a discussion of Mauna Loa, the largest mountain in the world, located in Hawaii. Mauna Loa doesn’t get much attention because most of it is under water. People on land can see only its tip. The authors go on to talk about the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, between prophecy and the actions of Jesus. When we read only the New Testament, or read it without the whole context, it’s like we are looking only at the top of the mountain, and we are missing how big the story really is.

I am grateful this book came across my path, along with its sequel, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus. It is a critical read for anyone who wants to get more out of individual Bible reading. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, more than any book I have read in a long time, drove me back to the most important work of all, God’s Word.


Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, serve as executive directors of Back2Back Ministries and reside in Monterrey, Mexico. Find her books Relentless Hope and Tales of the Not Forgotten at

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