Reading the Book should be of interest to both the layperson and cleric. In it Joseph Frankovic contends, “Interpreting the Bible is a question of acute relevance because how we understand Scripture ultimately determines to a large degree how we put it into practice.” The author also emphasizes that each generation must interpret the Bible in such a way that it “remains applicable to the ever changing circumstances and needs of the community of faith.”
Frankovic calls attention to the ways in which events and achievements belonging to the so-called “silent years” of the inter-testamental period influenced and contributed to the Judaism of Jesus’ day. Radical shifts in culture caused by changes in the dominant ruling powers forced Judaism to adapt to the new circumstances. Moreover, during the inter-testamental years, Israel’s sages emerged as a major force bringing about significant theological advances within Judaism. Consequently, the Judaism that Ezra and Nehemiah had practiced differed from that which Jesus knew.
To meet the challenges, difficulties and risks of interpreting the Bible, Frankovic proposes a “Jesus-centric” approach: How did Jesus read his Bible? What accentuations resonate through his teachings? Drawing clues from the gospel accounts as well as from rabbinic sources, the author gives readers a sharper understanding of who Jesus was historically and why he chose a particular style of teaching to communicate his message about the Kingdom of Heaven and his distinct approach to Torah.
The book’s fifty-three pages do not allow, however, for the more intensive study required by those who are already involved in biblical and Hebraic studies. Despite its brevity, Reading the Book serves as a good introduction for looking at not just the Gospels, but the entire biblical text from a fresh perspective.
Oral Roberts University