Proving that the Bible wasn’t written in a vacuum, Judith Marie Judy presents a sourcebook of the history, geography, and politics that surrounded and influenced Judaism and Christianity through their development over three millennia. Looking to unravel “the somewhat bewildering and overwhelming information of the Bible,” the author offers concise entries, timelines, and a glossary to help readers expand their knowledge and appreciation of religious belief.
Judy covers many subjects, including an overview of ancient civilizations, the development of the Hebrew Bible, and the influence of Hellenistic culture in what we now call the Middle East. Further, she examines not only Roman rule in Judea, but the life of Jesus, his family, and his early disciples, as well as the heresies and rejected belief systems that spread throughout the Mediterranean.
She also includes personal reflections at the start of each chapter that offer homespun stories of her faith journey. “I found knowing the history behind the writings led to a deeper understanding of the people and the times.”
Judy’s breezy, conversation style carries readers effortlessly through the book. She covers copious amounts of history and skillfully shows the connections between such diverse civilizations as the Babylonians, Assyrians, and others in the Fertile Crescent. Moreover, she helps give context to the disagreements between Jews, Romans, and various Christian sects that arose in the years before and after Jesus’s death.
Her personal reflections opening each chapter help give flesh to all the history and theology she’s researched, providing a tenderness that runs through this book that makes it different from other resource books on the market. “Civilizations gave birth to battles,” she laments toward book’s end. “What is understood intellectually is difficult to comprehend by the heart.”
Judy’s book has much heart. She has produced a helpful introduction to the Bible, and readers looking for a personal approach to the history of scripture will find this book approachable and beneficial.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.