Brief Reviews, VOLUME 2

Brief Review: First Two Books in the “Ancient Context, Ancient Faith” Series [Vol. 2, #30]

A Brief Review of the
First Two Books in the “Ancient Context, Ancient Faith” Series

The Bible and The Land.
( Ancient Context, Ancient Faith #1)
Gary Burge.

Paperback: Zondervan, 2009.
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Jesus, The Middle Eastern Storyteller
( Ancient Context, Ancient Faith #2)
Gary Burge.

Paperback: Zondervan, 2009.
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Reviewed by Chris Smith.

The first two books, both by Gary Burge, in the “Ancient Context, Ancient Faith” series have just been released by Zondervan.  Burge, a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, does a fine job at setting an introductory historical — and to a lesser extent theological — context for certain biblical texts.  The first book in this series is THE BIBLE AND THE LAND, and it provides a basic contextual explanations for essential biblical elements like Land, Wilderness, rock, water and bread.  Burge’s work, albeit rather elementary in content, serves as a good introduction and the book itself is a really nice piece of work with glossy pages and relevant color photography supplementing the text on almost every page. Unfortunately, this first volume in its broadness — covering a specific set of terms across the whole of Scripture — does not cohere as well as the second one.  This second volume, JESUS, THE MIDDLE EASTERN STORYTELLER, is a lot more focused, namely on the parables of Jesus, and I imagine will prove to be a more useful text.  Similar in style and layout to the first volume, it begins with a brief introduction on the world in which these stories were told.  Burge writes in a super accesible style, occasionally weaving in a story from his own experience that sheds light on a particular topic.  He does a fine job at making sense of biblical texts, especially the parables of Jesus in volume two, in which the story’s significance has been obscured by our historical distance from the culture into which the story was originally told.  Either book would be appropriate for use in a Sunday School class or Bible Study group, but I believe that readers will find the second volume, on Jesus’ parables to be clearer and more helpful.


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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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