Apr 21, 2014

Understanding Jesus Cultural Insights Review

Understanding Jesus
Cultural Insights into the Words and Deeds of Christ by Joe Amaral

Modern-day Christians often bring their own presuppositions and assumptions to the reading of the Bible, not realizing how deeply their understanding of Christ's life and teachings is affected by a 21st-century worldview. In UNDERSTANDING JESUS, author Joe Amaral delves deep into Jewish history, societal mores, and cultural traditions, closing the gap created by geographical distance and over two thousand years of history. Using a chronological approach to the life of Christ, he guides the reader through significant events such as Jesus' birth, baptism, and crucifixion, pointing out illuminating details that that the Western mind would normally miss.

Amaral's premise is that
to understand Jesus, we must understand the time and place in which he was born, the background from which he drew his illustrations, and the audience he spoke to. Throughout the book he explores specific terms, places, and events for their significance and shows how they add richness and meaning to the text. Topics include the connection between Jesus and John the Baptist, the annual Feasts and why they are important to modern Christianity, Jewish customs such as foot-washing, clean and unclean foods, paying tribute to political governments, and the significance of various miracles.

In UNDERSTANDING JESUS, Amaral draws back the curtain on a way of life that existed during the reign of the Caesars, and in doing so, reveals truths about the way we live more than two thousand years later, half a world away.

My review:  I saw Joe Amaral as a guest speaker in my church. When he stepped up and announced he'd be giving a presentation about Jewish feasts and their significance in end times, I prepared myself for a snooze. It was one of those topics you just knew was important, but didn’t want to tackle. But it turned out to be so much more than I bargained for, and when he was done, I was one of the first in line to buy the book! It is an astounding read. I can't begin to figure how much research must have gone into writing this, and he just hands it all to you on a platter! Understanding the cultural times offers enormous insight into the parables, and is a huge help when reading scripture. Things I never understood before suddenly became crystal clear when explained in the context of biblical times. The book was at no point boring, ‘lagging’ or redundant. It was one of the best books I have ever read. I cannot put into words how much I recommend this!

About the author: 

Joe Amaral was born in Portugal on the island of St. Miguel, and immigrated with his family to Toronto, Ontario, when he was two years old. A rebel against Christianity, he credits a youth pastor who "loved me unconditionally" with being a major factor in his conversion and subsequent decision to enter the ministry. He attended Eastern Pentecostal Bible College (now a Master's College and Seminary). In November 2002, he first visited Israel, and learned about the culture from his tour guide, a Messianic Jew. Today, along with his father-in-law, he operates a ministry called Operation Outreach, conducting tours of the Holy Land several times a year and teaching on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. He resides with his wife, Karen, and family in Ontario.

Disclosure: I did not receive the the item(s) mentioned in this post for free in exchange for my honest review. I spent MY OWN MONEY. Regardless ~ All my reviews are my honest and personal opinion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”.


  1. Wow! This sounds like a great book. I have been wondering a lot lately about the culture and times of Jesus. I will have to get this book.

    1. It really is an outstanding book! It answers so many questions and puts the parables into perspective, giving them so much more meaning. You won't regret getting this, promise!

  2. I have just bought the book recently. I am reading it in May when I have more time and looking so forward to this! Marg

    1. Awesome, Marg! I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy this!

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