Noel Moules is the founder of 'Workshop' a Christian vocational training programme based in the UK under the auspices of a registered charity, the Anvil Trust.
How can we discover the Jesus of the New Testament and understand his message of love, hope and peace after two thousand years of religious schism and manipulation?
In this book, the author has researched the earliest texts and analysed the words of Jesus in historical context. By understanding their origin and their associations and comparing them to other languages, we can receive a far clearer picture of the ministry and character of Jesus.
Take for example the word ‘anaw’ in the original Biblical language. This word has been translated as ‘meekness'. However, in Greek, this word is translated as ‘praus’ which has three meanings; expressing anger appropriately and to good effect, emotional control and holding in check, such as one would find in a war horse ready to go to battle and serenity, humility, poise, dignity along with inner calm and stillness. So when Jesus says ‘Blessed are the ‘meek’, he is not saying ‘blessed are the weak!’
When the sermons, saying and parables are researched, we discover that the simple messages are far deeper and more meaningful that we have been led to believe. For instance, we learn that when Jesus says ‘whoever forces you to go a mile, go with him two’ that, at the time of Roman occupation, a soldier to legally command someone to carry his pack for a single mile but no further. If someone carried his pack two miles, the soldier would be committing an unlawful act and could face a reprimand. Jesus therefore was highlighting that by offering humanity, Roman law was challenged.
A similar story is offered about a court of law that wished to deprive someone of their undergarment in payment of a fine. At that time, nakedness was taboo but the indignity was with the onlooker, thereby the one who is at fault is the one who has reduced the debtor to a situation of utter degradation.
Noel Moules wrote the book for several types of readers:
· Those in the Christian community who want to explore fresh possibilities;
· Those on the outside looking in, asking ‘Could there really be anything here for me?’
· Those who come to me every year declaring they are giving God one last chance;
· Those looking for common ground between faiths and beliefs so we can work together to change the world.
Reviewer: Wendy Stokes www.wendystokes.co.