Bible Background

Commentaries on bible text,pilgrim guides of bible places and descriptions of life in bible times,

Israel in the New Testament



by David Pawson


Many Christians have an ambivalent attitude towards Jews and Judaism, no doubt compounded by the present political situation in present-day Israel. They readily acknowledge that the roots of Christianity are in the Israel of the Bible, but often have only hazy notions of what the New Testament teaches about Israel in God’s purposes.
The author has chosen five New Testament writings – Matthew, Acts, Romans, Hebrews and Revelation – in which he examines the importance in which Israel is obviously held by the New Testament writers. He reasons that from the New Testament evidence Israel has a future in God’s purposes; that he has not finished with Israel; that neither the people nor the place have been left behind in God’s purposes. The book originated in a series of talks given in Jerusalem and has an easy-to-read style that will commend itself to the reader.
Here is a book that comes from an unashamedly evangelical stance, but which should provoke considerable thought and encourage a more balanced attitude to the Jews and Judaism. It will also be a valuable aid to those readers who wish to explore in greater detail what the New Testament really says about Israel.

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Review by Graham Wise  (14/02/12)
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Paperback
Price: £9.99
Publisher: Terra Nova Publications International Ltd.
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-901-94964-3

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A Ransom For Many

- The Gospel of Mark Simply Explained: Welwyn Commentary series

by Steve Wilmshurst


A very readable commentary that should leave you feeling well acquainted with Mark’s, ‘story of a crucified Messiah’. Steve takes a fairly traditional view of the author’s identity, as being the John Mark of Acts, who makes a lot of use of the reminiscences of Peter. The gospel’s three ‘key, intertwined’ themes are: ‘discipleship, opposition and suffering’. The Gospel’s ‘hinge-point’ is in Chapter 8, with Peter’s confession of Christ. Before that, Mark’s concern is with who Jesus is and after that with what Jesus came to do. The importance of the kingdom is rightly brought out – ‘The space where God’s sovereign authority is recognised and accepted’. The significance of the title ‘Son of Man’ is explored. The purpose of parables is considered: ‘not to make it easier, to understand, but actually to make it harder’.
Several pages are devoted to the two feeding miracles, the first, in Mark 6, for the Jews, the second, in Mark 8, for the Gentiles. The ‘little apocalypse’ of Mark 13 is read as referring to the two climactic events of the temple’s doom and Christ’s return. Steve tackles the question of the ‘shorter’ and the ‘longer’ endings of Chapter 16, strongly favouring the original ending being at verse 8.
I have to say, it often felt that I was being preached at, with lots of illustrations, three or four point sermons and exhortations, so I was not surprised to read in the preface that the book is based on a sermon series. The book’s closing paragraph rings like a preacher’s peroration! I’m not really complaining. But you ought to know what you’re getting!

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Review by Barry Vendy  (09/02/12)
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Price: £13.99
Publisher: EP (Evangelical Press)
Published: 11 November 2011
ISBN: 978-0-852-34744-7

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Navigating the Gospels: Mark



by Philip Fogarty SJ


This is a companion to, rather than a commentary upon, Mark's Gospel. Being 'based on the work of contemporary scripture scholars', the author aims 'to offer some overall insights...' into it.(p.10). He rightly emphasises that one must read, meditate on and contemplate the gospel, letting it 'speak to the heart as well as to the head.' (ibid.).
Fourteen chapters take us through the gospel, each being a summary of its content with some comments, explanations and lines of thought for the reader. There is a useful 'Preface' and a final chapter on the Bible as the 'inspired word of God...' (p.94).
The 'general reader', for whom this, and companion volumes, are intended, will appreciate Father Fogarty's straightforward and informative style. References to other authors are few - a short bibliography of accessible 'futher reading' and Biblical Commentaries would be helpful for the person who wishes to go deeper.
Respecting Jewish sensitivities, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales requested that 'Yahweh' should not be used in prayers, hymns etc.. This courtesy has not reached Ireland (e.g., pp 17, 88, 89). And better proof reading would have avoided minor, but obvious, errors (e.g., '...they set out for [should be 'from'] Nazareth to restrain him...' (p.25), and '...with people who's [sic] religious and moral backgrounds...' (p.19.)
Reading the relevant chapter in this book before that in Mark's Gospel, will assist one's prayerful understanding of Jesus' preaching and actions.

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Review by J.Nicholas Latham  (31/01/12)
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Price: £9.50
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 15 November 2011
ISBN: 978-1-856-07669-2

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In the Steps of Saint Paul

- An Illustrated Guide to Paul's Journeys

by Peter Walker


If like me, you get confused with the order of Paul’s missionary journeys and where the Epistles fit in, you will be delighted and fascinated reading this book. I learnt so much; Peter Walker sets out the relevant history of the different areas, the situations that caused Paul to be in these various places, how he got there and who he was with. So much detail, but packaged in such an attractive manner that you keep reading right to the very end, then go back over the pages, especially the inserts, to make sure that you have missed nothing. A book to keep by you for reference during the years to come. An invaluable aid to New Testament study whatever level of study you are at.
Previously published in 2008 as a hardback. ISBN 978-0-745-95236-9

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (02/04/08)
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Price: £12.99
Publisher: Lion
Published: March 2008
ISBN: 978-0-745-95555-1

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Revelation and the End Times

- Unravelling God's Message of Hope

by Ben Witherington III


Ok. To start with this is a book that deals with a subject that is for some people pretty emotive and that has camps set around radically divergent views so it’s not going to fit everyone’s theology; however I found Witherington’s book to be well written, informative and interesting. It’s a short book with some really engaging writing and some very good exposition in it and he’s not afraid to argue his differences and put forward a cohesive argument, however if you have a bumper sticker that says something like ‘when the rapture comes this car will be empty’ then this probably isn’t the book for you (– or maybe it is!).
For me the sections I found most interesting was the one dealing with Satan in the Heaven and Hell section, and then after that the one dealing with Resurrection not Reincarnation and the thorny issue of an immortal soul.
It’s written in a style that is not overly academic whilst still showing Witherington’s academic credentials and on the whole it’s just a really engaging book to read and the ‘And So?’ sections at the end of each chapter make it a great study or group tool – actually according to the back of the book there is a DVD study that goes with it, now that could be interesting!

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Review by Melanie Carroll  (24/01/12)
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Price: £6.99
Publisher: Abingdon Press from Alban Books
Published: 12 December 2010
ISBN: 978-0-687-66006-3

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Parallel Lives of Jesus

- Four Gospels, One Story

by Edward Adams


How do we make sense of the four gospels that are at once both so similar and yet so distinctive? In this wonderfully accessible yet academically rigorous book, Edward Adams sets out to demonstrate how we can read the gospels as a single story through four distinctive lenses.
The title comes from Plutarch’s Parallel Lives of Greeks and Romans and Adams’ approach is inspired by Richard Burridge’s studies that have revealed the gospels as being written in a style consistent with ancient biographical writings. Divided into three sections, the first part of the book covers swiftly and comprehensively a comparison of the four gospels as traditionally understood. For succinctness this one third of the book alone is recommended reading for everyone interested in New Testament studies from preachers to undergraduates. The second section of the book studies each gospel in turn in the light of its narrative structure and style, whilst the final section of the book comprises a parallel study of six events in Jesus’ ministry.
Adams’ work is important for it demonstrates how the differences between the gospels can help us to understand the core truth that runs through them all. I hope he will be encouraged by the response to this study to extend his approach so we may access a rich parallel commentary on the fourfold gospel, verse by verse.

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Review by David Ford  (21/01/12)
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Paperback
Price: £12.99
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: November 2011
ISBN: 978-0-281-06377-2

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Elijah

- Man of Fire, Man of Faith

by John Cheeseman

ISBN: 978-1-846-25270-9
Price: £6.00

Published: 2011
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The Bible Now

- Homosexuality, Abortion, Women, Death Penalty, Earth

by Richard Elliott Friedman & Shawna Dolansky

ISBN: 978-0-195-31163-1
Price: £16.99

Published: 22 September 2011
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Journeying With Mark: Lectionary Year B

- Bringing the Gospel Alive for Groups and Individuals

by James Woodward, Paula Gooder, Mark Pryce

ISBN: 978-0-281-05901-0
Price: £9.99

Published: August 2011
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The Gospel of God - Romans



by R.C.Sproul

ISBN: 978-1-845-50637-7
Price: £11.99

Published: 11 November 2011
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Journey Through the Bible



by Hugh Hill

ISBN: 978-0-956-21871-1
Price: £12.50

Published: 2011
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1 and 2 Thessalonians – A Practical Commentary

- Exploring the Bible

by Stanley Jebb

ISBN: 978-1-846-25287-7
Price: £8.00

Published: 2011
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1 & 2 Kings For Everyone



by John Goldingay

ISBN: 978-0-281-06130-3
Price: £9.99

Published: October 2011
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Revelation For Everyone



by Tom Wright

ISBN: 978-0-281-06463-2
Price: £9.99

Published: September 2011
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Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes

- Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians

by Kenneth E. Bailey

ISBN: 978-0-281-06455-7
Price: £16.99

Published: 09 September 2011
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The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus

- Luke’s Account of God’s Unfolding Plan

by Alan J Thompson

ISBN: 978-1-844-74535-7
Price: £12.99

Published: July 2011
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The Gospel and Acts: John and Acts



by William Barclay

ISBN: 978-1-907-06207-0
Price: £14.95

Published: 2010
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Luke: For Everyone Bible Study Guides



by Tom Wright

ISBN: 978-0-281-06505-9
Price: £4.99

Published: July 2011
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Touched by Greatness

- Women in the Life of Moses

by Dorothy Kelley Patterson

ISBN: 978-1-845-50631-5
Price: £6.99

Published: 2011
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Who is the Antichrist?

- Answering the Question Everyone is Asking

by Mark Hitchcock

ISBN: 978-0-736-93995-9
Price: £8.99

Published: July 2011
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