Review of The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel, Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. Cheryl Durham, Ph.D.
The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel, Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg.
Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg is the President of Israel Study Center in the Galilee area of Israel. He holds an M.Div. degree in Christian Theology from Reformed Theological Seminary (2000), and an M.Phil. Degree in Bible Interpretation (2008) as well as Ph.D. degree in Ancient Cultures from Stellenbosch University (2011).
Dr. Eli, as his students call him, is the author of the popular Jewish Context and Culture Program, at Israel Study Center with thousands study group members worldwide. He regularly lectures in colleges and universities in Israel and abroad. One of his greatest passions is building of bridges of trust, respect and understanding between Christians and Jews, overcoming centuries of difficult, but almost always joined history. He does not think that New Testament needs to be rewritten, but that it needs to be carefully reread.
Dr. Eli (as his students call him), tells us in the preface that the book of John has been a 20 year challenge for him. As a Jewish believer in Jesus, he struggled with the supposed Anti-Semitic content of the book and the traditional interpretations of what he terms ‘my favorite Gospel’ to support ideas that in fact are not supported by the context. He achieves his purpose of showing that the Gospel of John can be both an anti-Jewish and pro-Jewish book at the same time. His perspective is well researched and endorsed by many prominent scholars.
The author’s insights into the various groups and sects interacting during the Second Temple period, and specifically during the writing of the Gospel are amazing. The picture he draws of the story that the author of John tells comes alive as one reads with the bible in one hand and the commentary in the other.
The Jewish Gospel of John is a refreshing and honest perspective of the Gospel of John in the first century context. It takes into account what the original audience would have heard by using the current scholarship and therefore current understanding of First Century Judaisms. In many cases it overturns traditional views of the Gospel because the history, as a result of the new scholarship, just doesn't support the old traditional views. My students have been pleasantly surprised by this commentary and are eager to attend classes because as one of my students has opined "this answers the questions I have had for so many years and makes bible study new and exciting again!". I would recommend this to bible teachers and bible students alike. It is a clear, non-technical and narrative like commentary that walks the reader step by step through the Gospel as if the reader lived at the time. Great read!
If you would like to know more about the Israel Study center you can find out how it works here: https://youtu.be/v104G-bvqC8
Cheryl Durham, Ph.D.
Cheryl is the Executive Director at Living Truth. She is also currently Dean of Students and Professor of New Testament Culture and History at Master's International University of Divinity. She holds a Bachelor and Master's Degree in Biblical Counseling, a Doctor of Biblical Studies in Worldview and a Ph.D. in New Testament History and Culture.