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Archive for June, 2013

Courtesy Bethany House Publishers

Courtesy Bethany House Publishers

I have been a Christian for nearly twenty years. In spite of the many sermons, teachings, readings, and viewing expounding on the Bible, I still have never quite had a grasp on the culture that Jesus lived in. I’ve never fully understood exactly what a Pharisee or Sadducee was. Who were Herod and Pilate and which one had more power? Who were the Samaritans, really, and why didn’t the Jews like them?

This incredible little book by William H. Marty, published by Bethany House Publishers, answers those questions and many more.  The World of Jesus gives the rich and often disturbing history of the Jewish nation during the “400 silent years” between the end of Malachi and the beginning of Matthew, then through to the final destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70. While The World of Jesus answers many of those nagging little questions that I have while reading the Bible, it also provides the setting for the battles that the Jews faced as they risked cultural extinction from first the Babylonians, then the Persians, Greeks, and Romans.

Marty weaves the history of the Jews, from their captivity in Babylon through the total Roman rule, into the stories of the New Testament. This intertwining of the time periods sheds light on some of the more difficult passages of scripture. For example, I myself never understood Jesus’ reference, when dictating a message to be sent to Herod Antipas, to a prophet not being allowed to die outside of Jerusalem. Marty explains that the reference is from Herod the Great’s (Antipas’ father)execution of a Jew without the Sanhedrin’s approval.

The only thing that could have made this little book better would have been a few charts and maps to further help manage the incredible amount of information. Especially while dealing with the jumbled mess that was the Herodian era, I could have used family charts.

I give The World of Jesus five stars. It truly has opened my eyes to the cultural war that the Jews fought during the “Four Hundred Years of Silence” and how God allowed events to transpire in order to prepare the world for His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

**I received a copy of The World of Jesus by William H. Marty from Bethany House Publishers for free in return for an honest review. My thoughts are my own.**

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Courtesy Mesu Andrews’ Blog at http://www.mesuandrews.com

I’m so excited for today! I have had the incredible opportunity to interview two of the characters from Mesu Andrews‘ newest novel, Love in a Broken Vessel, published by Revell Publishing House. Mesu is the author of three Biblical fiction novels.  Love Amid the Ashes focuses on Job and his second wife, Dinah. Love’s Sacred Song is an exploration of the love of Solomon and his Shulamite maid. Love in a Broken Vessel is the story of the prophet Hosea and his wife, Gomer. I have read all three novels and I firmly state that I have never read better Biblical fiction.

Mesu’s research and knowledge of the time and setting of the novels are vast. In her introductions, she points out where she strays or adds to the Biblical narrative in order to flesh out the story, but she always remains true the facts of what the Bible says.

As a matter of fact, Mesu Andrews is one of the few authors who earns my “Enraptured Award”! It took me three days, because of my busy schedule, to read through Love in a Broken Vessel. During those three days, my thoughts rarely strayed from the story as I thought about what had happened up to that point and what was to come. Never did I turn to the back to find out what happens, as I was simply too deeply entrenched in the story itself and I longed to watch it as it unfolded.

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Mesu’s writing is beyond excellent: Enough detail to put the reader firmly in Israel and Judea, but not so much as to distract from the story itself; the characters are true to themselves always, which is a really big deal for me as a reader; over and over, I was overwhelmed with the idea that not only is the story of Hosea and Gomer a cautionary tale for the Israelites (and for us today), but it really happened. I came away from reading this novel, as I did with Mesu’s first two, with an overwhelming desire to read the Bible with fresh eyes and really understand the people behind the words that have become so familiar to me.

There aren’t many novels that can do that, now are there?

On to the interview! Delighted I was when Hosea and Gomer took a few moments from their very busy lives to sit down with me and tell me a little more about their love story. Fraught with heartbreak on both sides, their story is truly an inspiration to us all and a glowing beacon for God’s healing love.

So, Hosea and Gomer, you two knew each other as children, but were separated. How did you meet up again?

Hosea: “Yaweh told me to marry a prostitute, but He didn’t say exactly how to find one…”
Gomer: “‘No, you stay away from me!’ was the first thing I said to him after all those years.”
Hosea: “I prayed for Yaweh to soften her heart to become my wife willingly.”
Gomer: “I asked for independence and respect…”
Hosea: “But I wasn’t happy with that. No, I would love Gomer as the Lord loved Israel.”

You were finally married. How were things once you were settled together at home?

Gomer: “He left me.”
Hosea: “To prophesy!”

Wow. That had to have been difficult.

Gomer: “It was very difficult for me. But I needed to learn, learn about Yaweh and about my husband.”
Hosea: “It was difficult for me, as well. I didn’t want to leave the wife whom Yaweh had given me so soon. But neither would I disobey Him when He called me to speak to Israel again about repentance.”

Much of your story involves deceit and forgiveness. In fact, several years go by before the two of you reconcile completely. What can you tell me about that?

Gomer: “The Lord taught me that He can repair Broken Vessels, that He will love those whom He called unloved and will make a people of those who weren’t His people. He truly is my Redeemer.”
Hosea: “When Yaweh asks us to do a thing that seems impossible, He will give us what we need to do so. I could not forgive Gomer on my own; I could not love her so completely with my own heart. It is the heart which Yaweh placed in me that allows such a transformation.”

Thank you both, so much, for stopping by today. I am certain that your story will continue to show others the love and forgiveness that God offers us all.

And thank you for reading! Watch the trailer for Love in a Broken Vessel below. If my review didn’t cause you to get a hold of this book, the following video will!

Love in a Broken Vessel earns 5 stars.  I received Love in a Broken Vessel at no cost via NetGalley in return for an honest review.  My thoughts are my own.

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