Aside from all the personal stuff, a lot of my goal-setting and planning has been about writing and blogging and studying.
Most of you read Messianic Jewish Musings because you have caught the disease, the blessed disease. You can’t get enough Bible, theology, spiritual and intellectual stimulation. So you stop here and a dozen other places regularly. You want to be challenged, to grow, to become immersed in the world of sacred text and pleasure in the divine.
As one place you come to for challenge, I want to be sufficiently challenging for you. We’re on this journey of discovery together and we learn from each other.
On Monday I posted some ethics for discussions online and in any community. Part of the reason I posted it is that I’d like to generate more discussion this year. I’d like to not simply write theory and research and musings here, but also hear your theory and musings and research. (Of course, that means you need to do more than read blogs — but to research and think and make reading the Bible and literature about the Bible a habit).
I know many people spend so much time reading things online they leave little time for books and even the Bible itself.
I hope I can be one voice encouraging you to put paper in your hands and turn the precious leaves while savoring the learning. It’s a good year to learn Hebrew (see mountolivepress.com for the Torah and Hebrew Learning Materials by Jeff Feinberg). It’s a good year to read through Rashi (I recommend the Artscroll Sapirstein Edition Rashi which will help you understand him). It’s a good year to read a solid commentary or theological work.
I want to talk about books, books worth reading, and I will feel as if I have done something great if I get a few hundred people reading a book who might not have read that book otherwise.
One category of book that I’d like to see Messianic Jews reading, and Christians as well, is good Jewish books. I just got a used copy of Barry Holtz’s 1992 The Schocken Guide to Jewish Books. My Jewish library continues to grow and the recommendations by various scholars in the Schocken Guide are helping me find some gems (some out of print, but thank God for used books on Amazon).
I know most people can’t buy or read a few books a week.
But some of you know you need a challenge.
So, starting in March, I will begin a Jewish Book of the Month Club for Messianics. Hopefully a few dozen of you out there will find room in your reading schedule to join me with one new book a month. For some of you, that will mean adding one book to your regular three or four you read a month. For others, this may stretch you into reading one book a month.
How will I pick books? Well, I will look for a book that is widely recommended, at least in some sense a modern classic. I will look for books available new or used on amazon. I will look for books in different categories (the Schocken Guide is so useful here) like: introductory Jewish books, the Bible and its world, the world of Talmud, the Jewish Middle Ages, the European Jewish experience, the American Jewish experience, the Holocaust, Israel and Zionism, Jewish mysticism, Jewish philosophy, Jewish women’s studies, Jewish novelists, and more.
Note to other bloggers: I’d love to see other bloggers getting in on this. I didn’t call it the “Messianic Jewish Musings Jewish Book Club” in hopes that a few other bloggers might join in and encourage their readers to join in as well.
When should you order a book? What if you don’t want to wait until March? I’ll give four weeks before we start our first selection so you have plenty of time to order. If you don’t want to wait, here are some Jewish books I am reading now. Maybe you’d like to start with one of these:
(1) Iggeres Haramban/A Letter for the Ages: The Ramban’s Ethical Letter with an Anthology of Contemporary Rabbinic Expositions (Artscroll Mesorah Series) by Namanides
(2) To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility by Jonathan Sacks
(3) Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology by Michael Fishbane
* Warning: This one is tough reading. I read theology like candy and I’m having some trouble with this one, but I feel he is saying something significant here. So, I’d say this one is for the advanced reader.