Archives For Israel

 

We are proud to announce the release of the new ebook:

A Space for Peace in the Holy Land: Listening to Modern Israel and Palestine
Alex Joyner

Ebook: Englewood Review of Books, 2014.
Buy now:  [ Kindle ]

“In A Space for Peace in the Holy Land, Alex challenges Christians to bear witness to the space that God has opened in the world by the empty tomb of Jesus Christ, to pray and to work for the reconciliation of Palestinians and Jews in the Middle East, and to support those persons, institutions, and policies that will make for peace in this most contested place in the world. The vision that he presents does not allow us to succumb to frustration or ideological posturing, but challenges us to serve the work of reconciliation that God has entrusted to us through Jesus Christ.”
-Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker, United Methodist Church

“A Space for Peace in the Holy Land is a particularly helpful resource that sheds light on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. This little book is essential reading for any Christian who desires to understand and to be engaged in this conflict.”
– C. Christopher Smith, co-author SLOW CHURCH: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus

 

Read the book’s introduction below…
Continue Reading…

 

Called to be Compassionate Listeners

A Brief Review of

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Tough Questions, Direct Answers
Dale Hanson Bourke

Paperback: IVP Books, 2013.
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Ellen Painter Dollar.
 
Until recently, most of my knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came from stories. As a child, I was captivated by my father’s Time-Life books on World War II, especially the one about the Holocaust. I sat looking at the photos of doomed Jews, struggling to absorb the stories they told, their horror far too vast for my child’s heart (for anyone’s heart) to fully comprehend. For my religion major in college, I took an entire course on the Holocaust, which gave me a wider historical lens through which to view the horrific events of 1930s and 40s Europe. I learned how Jews had been denied citizenship even in countries where they had lived for centuries. I began to understand how a people without the protection of a state that claims them are uniquely vulnerable to persecution. For the first time, I understood why the state of Israel was so necessary.
 
I started hearing stories of Palestinian life when a friend started traveling regularly to the West Bank for her work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). She met Palestinian shepherds who were unable to easily get to their land—land that has been in their families for generations—to care for their sheep because of a checkpoint or other barrier. She and her team accompanied Palestinian children to school, and held conversations with both Palestinians and Israelis. Some of my friend’s most poignant stories are of conversations with young Israeli soldiers, in which they let down their guard and say that they sometimes struggle with the moral questions raised by their job.

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Jerusalem - The BiographyThe Center of the World

A Review of

Jerusalem: The Biography

By Simon Sebag Montefiore
Hardback: Knopf, 2011
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Alex Joyner

“Everybody has two cities – his own and Jerusalem” – Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s mayor 1965-1993

“No country will more quickly dissipate romantic expectations than Palestine, particularly Jerusalem.  To some the disappointment is heartsickening” – Herman Melville

There were times, as I wandered the streets of Jerusalem on my first visit last year, that I wondered whether I could have become a believer if my impressions of faith were formed solely on an encounter with the city.  The contemporary scene is so dominated by conflict and religious fanaticism that Melville’s disillusionment seems entirely warranted.  The news of late reports Christian monks fighting one another with brooms in nearby Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.  Orthodox Jews spit on Jewish girls on their way to school for their alleged immodesty.  And shadowing everything are the apocalyptic expectations of Muslims, Jews, and Christians, which seem to justify all manner of cruelties and intransigence.

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“Reconciling the Biblical Story

A Review of
The Politics of Yahweh:
John Howard Yoder, The Old Testament and the People of God.

by John Nugent

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ This book was chosen as an Englewood Honor Book,
as one of the Best books of 2011! Click Here for the full list… ]


The Politics of Yahweh - John NugentThe Politics of Yahweh:
John Howard Yoder,
The Old Testament and the People of God.

John Nugent
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Excerpt #1: Overview of the Old Testament Story
(Appendix B – PDF)

Excerpt #2: Yoder’s Reading of the Pre-Flood Era

For most Christians, the Old Testament is difficult.  What sense can we make of all its wars, violence and crudity, and of the God who is guiding Israel through all of these things?  There are undoubtedly many parts of the Old Testament that are difficult to reconcile with the person and mission of Jesus that we find in the New Testament.  To resolve these tensions, some people turn to dispensationalism, but that turn raises some tough theological questions about the unchanging nature of God and about how we are to understand God’s mission in the world.  Marcionism, the heresy of rejecting the Old Testament, is a temptation for others, and I imagine that many people – including myself at many times in the not-too-distant past – are attracted to a sort of functional marcionism that affirms the Old Testament as part of the Bible, but largely ignores it because we cannot make sense of it.

For those who believe that the Old Testament is an important part of the story of what God is doing in the world, but yet can’t make sense of how it relates to the life and mission of Jesus and his followers that we find in the New Testament, John Nugent’s new book The Politics of Yahweh will come as a breath of fresh air.

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“A Pre-History of the Lord’s Table”

A Review of

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
By Brant Pitre
.

Reviewed by Michelle Van Loon.

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]

JESUS AND THE JEWISH ROOTS OF THE EUCHARIST - PitreJesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist:
Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper
.
Brant Pitre.
Hardback: Doubleday Religion, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

It was the first Sunday of the month, which meant it was time for communion at the non-denominational church my family attended at the time. At best, our once-a-month communion of broken matzo and plastic thimbles-full of syrupy grape juice on was usually treated as a postscript to the service. At worst, it was a rushed affair that made the church service a few minutes longer. I think church leaders spent more of their platform time recruiting volunteers to fill those little cups than they did explaining why we “remembered” Christ in this way each month.

Is this really what Christ had in mind when he offered the matzo and cup to his friends during the final Passover Seder he celebrated with them and said, “Do this in remembrance of me?”

Continue Reading…

 

An excerpt from

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist:
Unlocking the Secrets of The Last Supper
.
Brant Pitre.
Hardback: Doubleday Religion, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

[ Read our review above…  ]

 

191208: The Complete Psalms: The Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation A Review of

The Complete Psalms:
The Book of Prayer Songs
in a New Translation

Translated by Pamela Greenberg.
Hardback: Bloomsbury, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

For thousands of years, the Psalms have been the heartbeat that pulsed life and kept rhythm for the people of God, but sometimes their familiarity can subtly breed mindlessness; we mouth the familiar words and yet miss the power of their words to engage with the oft-brutal realities of living in a fallen world and to transform our hearts and minds.  Out of this familiar milieu emerges Pamela Greenberg’s delightful new translation, The Complete Psalms, which breathes the crisp air of new life into these liturgical songs.  Indeed, Greenberg identifies the compelling force behind her translation as “the impulse of shiru l’Adonai shir chadash, the imperative to sing to God a new song” (xvii).  Her translation process flowed from the tension between the poetic, an attempt “to replicate the emotional passion of the psalms,” and the literal, which in the end resulted in a [dialogical] “middle ground between strict literality and poetic engagement, with the hopes of awakening for the reader new possibilities for speaking with God.”

Consider her verdant translation of the familiar Psalm 100:

Shout out with joy, all who live on earth.

Serve the Holy One with rejoicing.


Come before the Upholder with a ringing cry.

Know that God is a source of wonder.


You created us, and it is to our Creator we belong.

We are shepherded by heavenly guidance.


Come into the divine gates with thankfulness,

the holy courtyards shining with praise.


Be thankful, awed by the Holy Name.

For God is good;

your kindness is toward the world.

From generation to generation, you remain faithful.

Continue Reading…

 

A Brief Review of A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation.
By Naim Ateek.

Reviewed by R. Dean Hudgens.

A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation.
Ateek, Naim S.

Foreword by Abp. Desmond Tutu.
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2008.
Buy now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $20 ]  [ Amazon ]

     Naim Ateek, a Palestinian Anglican priest and an Arab citizen of Israel, is the founder, president and director of Sabeel, an ecumenical theological center in Jerusalem dedicated to working for the liberation of Palestinians.  In this book he presents a vision for nonviolent Christian engagement in what is perhaps the most central conflict bottlenecking the cause of peace in the Middle East.

     The Israeli occupation of Palestine has created a culture of violence that has dehumanized and oppressed both Israelis and Palestinians.  The violent resistance to occupation on the part of some Palestinians has only made the situation more tragic and hopeless.  Is there any legitimate hope that the twenty-first century will be any less violent than the blood-soaked twentieth?  Will public opinion at some point in the future put greater pressure on governments to limit their lust for war and to pursue peaceful means for the resolution of conflicts?    Ateek’s book is a plea for a nonviolent Palestinian intifada.  Christians contribute to this peacemaking by returning to the revolutionary politics of Jesus, who taught that evil can be resisted without violence.

     After a brief review of the history of the conflict, Ateek addresses  the central section of his book to the exposition of a nonviolent Palestinian theology of liberation.  He asserts that the conflict in the Middle East is rooted in disputes about land and exclusive theologies of land.  Forms of Christian Zionism (e.g., politically engaged dispensationalism) reinforce this exclusivity.  Ateek lifts up Jonah as the first Palestinian liberation theologian who condemns restrictive, nationalistic theologies.  It is crucial to oppose expressions of Christian Zionism as an oppressive heresy exacerbating this conflict.  Attek writes that “The God whom we have come to know in Jesus Christ is not the God of Armageddon but the God of Golgotha” (91).

     Getting to the roots of the conflict and its development is foundational.  Justice is the key component.  The illegal Israeli occupation must come to an end and Palestinian violence must cease.  International law must be implemented and Israel must recognize Palestinian rights and make restitution for its offenses.  Ateek proposes a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a necessary step in creating accountability and reconciling the conflicting narratives.

     Ateek’s critique of Israeli policy is stringent and unrelenting, yet he does not spare his Palestinian kindred and the futility of resistance based upon anger, hatred, and violent resistance.  Ateek is not content to concede political engagement to the “realists” nor to proclaim a passive gospel that remains disengaged from the conflict.  He proposes that the only hope for the world (and for the renewal of the church) is to proclaim the nonviolent gospel of Jesus in the public square, and to live it out in the market place, the traffic intersections, the courtrooms, and the legislatures.  It is morally and spiritually incumbent upon Christians around the world to join him in this mission.