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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, sloppy writing with schoolboy howler errors., 27 July 2007
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This review is from: Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church (Paperback)
This book comes with glowing endorsements from a number of serious, heavyweight scholars. Apart from the generous praise of these men, many of whom I respect highly, the author also has some impressive credentials himself. Consequently, as someone highly sympathetic to this genre, and having toured Israel a few times, I approached it expecting to be greatly blessed. I must say that although the majority of the material is helpful, there were several aspects of this book which left me frustrated and disappointed.

Firstly, it appeared that the author was merely quoting other people's scholarship. (I know we are all the product of multiple influences, but I couldn't help feeling that he hadn't contributed a single original thought anywhere in the book.A possible exception is page 24. See below.
This is a strange impression to get; I can't recall ever having felt the same about any other book). Perhaps this is why the other scholars praised him so highly; did they recognise their own material? The end result was that I couldn't take him seriously as an authority in his own right--just someone parroting the opinions of others.

Secondly, there were some awful blunders which ANY competent scholar should have weeded out in the reviewing stage--(if they ever read it in the first place). For example, on p. 24, he makes the claim that the apostle John was from a priestly family, based on Jn. 18: 15. All this says is that, "this disciple was KNOWN to the high priest." (He might just have been the fish delivery man for all we know!!). On this flimsy foundation he makes several foolish claims. Firstly this was why John let Peter go into Jesus' tomb first on the morning of the Resurrection, so as not to be defiled by a dead body. But next comes an absurd error based on Acts 4: 6, which he links to St. John also. It says, "Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, JOHN, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family." To the author this constitutes "proof" that the apostle John was of the high priest's circle. HOWEVER, if he'd bothered to read on, THE NEXT VERSE SAYS, "They had Peter and JOHN brought before them and began to question them." OBVIOUSLY, THIS ARISTOCRATIC PRIESTLY INQUISITOR JOHN OF VERSE 6 WAS NOT THE HUMBLE FISHERMAN JOHN BEING INTERROGATED BY HIM IN V. 7!!!!! John was a common name in the first century. When I read such massive blunders it removes all confidence in this man's scholarship. How he got all those letters after his name is a mystery to me.

Thirdly, sloppy handling of detail. On page 8 he talks of the Second Jewish War, but links the flight of the Christian community to Pella with that war, in 132 - 135 AD. It's not until page 69 that he corrects this error, rightly placing it in the First Jewish War of 66 - 70 AD.

Fourthly, what really bothered me was what I see as a dreadful theological statement on pages 36 -37. I quote, "The third misconception is the idea that New Testament believers have a "Better covenant" than God's Law. The passages from Hebrews, where this expression appears, are discussing the sacrificial system only, that is better in Christ, as God's Lamb, as opposed to a literal lamb. THE MANIFESTATION IS BETTER AND HAS CHANGED, BUT THE COVENANT ITSELF REMAINS THE SAME".
How can anyone claim that the New Covenant is THE SAME as the Old Covenant????? Hebrews clearly states that "By calling this covenant "New," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." Heb. 8: 13. No amount of semantics can twist the Bible into saying what he claims it says.
"For if there had been nothing wrong with that FIRST covenant, no place would have been sought for ANOTHER. But God found fault with the people and said : "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a NEW covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. IT WILL NOT BE LIKE the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt." (Heb. 8: 7 - 9). WHAT COULD BE CLEARER?' THEY ARE TWO DISTINCT COVENANTS.
I don't dispute for a moment that it is the same thrice holy God Who makes both covenants with His people--and that His holy attributes and standards change not. But, as just one example of many differences, the priesthood has changed in the New Covenant--this alone tells us that the Mosaic system has passed away. The writer to the Hebrews makes this crystal clear--that Jesus was not of the Levitical priesthood, but rather in the order of Melchizedek. If the Old Covenant were still in place, Jesus, coming from the tribe of Judah as He did, would be disqualified to act as our great High Priest.

Fifthly, he totally fails to distinguish between the LAW OF GOD as a general revelation of His nature and standards, and the LAW OF MOSES, the Covenant made with Israel on Sinai. Several passages are confusing and misleading when this vital distinction is lacking.

I could go on but I don't want to be reminded of all the other irritations of this book--like the annoying writing style and how the serious, scholarly tone of the review questions at the end of each chapter seem ridiculous in the light of its errors. (I did BEGIN to fill them in--honest!).

I probably sound sour, fault-finding and critical, please excuse this. But this is not a good book and I found myself filling its margins with many irate protests. And please understand that I am highly sympathetic to this line of teaching in general. It's just that this is not a good example of the genre. There are far better choices one could make.
To be fair, the second half of the book was far better. He confines himself to a summary of the teachings of the Pharisees, which was quite helpful. I enjoyed that half far more. But even then, after seeing his poor scholarship previously, I found myself wondering, "Can I trust this as an authoritative source?"
Really 2 and 1/2 stars is the best I can give. Save your pennies for other writings, which won't drive you to distraction with their sloppy writing style, factual errors and schoolboy blunders.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Mar 2009 08:25:59 GMT
Karen says:
David Reid suggests there are better choices to make. I would appreciate it if he could let me know where to start. Many thanks.

Posted on 25 May 2009 08:53:35 BDT
This commentator has a critical spirit and a poor understanding of God's revelation throught he whole of the TaNaKh and it's fulfillment is Yeshua Messiach-El, although he claims to have visited Israel I suggest he still has anti-semitc roots based in "superior Christianity".
However we can all have our own misconception - personally I think I'll buy the book and read it with an open mind.

Posted on 10 Sep 2010 18:02:39 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Sep 2010 18:04:37 BDT
C HARLE says:
Thank you Mr David Reid for taking the time to share your findings. I am in agreement with your strong stance on the New Covenant and the High Priestly work of Christ. As you point out, the book of Hebrews makes this quite clear.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2010 00:46:36 BDT
David Reid says:
Hi Mr. Netherwood,
thanks for your post. I am a little baffled about it. Whilst I agree that I probably came over as rather critical, ( as I said in the review) it was a genuine response to the disappointing content of the book. However, I find that I believe just as you do regarding the continuous Revelation of the Lord's purposes from Genesis to Revelation; that the Messiah is the ultimate fulfillment of all of God's promises; and I certainly do not have the slightest sympathy with Replacement Theology with its premise that Christianity has made void the Covenant promises to the Jewish people. As a pastor with a heart for Israel, to be labelled anti-semitic is a painful slur. I would be interested to hear your views on the book AFTER you have gone through it and re-read my comments to see if they strike a chord with you. Perhaps if you read it to the end you will better see where I was coming from. It simply is a poorly written book although, as I said, there are some interesting sections.
To Karen, who was wondering about better choices within this genre, I would suggest the writings and recorded messages of Dr. Dwight Pryor and "Our Father Abraham" by Marvin Wilson.
May the Lord guide us all into a greater knowledge of His precious Word and His precious Son.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 14:07:04 BDT
David says:
Well said David and your choices of further reading are excellent and would be among the many I would recommend. Thank you for your review, it saved me a few bob:)
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