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on December 5, 2004
When you are tired of the endless controversies in current Biblical scholarship, when you're worn down from the specialist studies of language in this or that gospel, or the cynical books that claim to expose this and that redaction, when you want merely to exist in a rich, vital, eloquent literary world, securely based in scholarship itself, in which Second Temple Jerusalem comes to life, in which you can see Nazareth as if you were there, in which you can feel the pulse of the commerce and communications, and pilgrim crowds of the time of Christ -- then pick up this book. Dip into it by subject or time period. And you'll love it. Of course it was written by a believing man with a great generous soul. But it's thoroughly documented, and has immense and timeless insight to offer on many subjects. For some, it might be a rich corrective to the mini-series, and movies about Jesus which portray his surroundings as so meager and primitive, with no sense of the grandeur of the Holy City, and the complexity and variety of the village life that Jesus might have known. Jesus didn't live in the Stone Age as motion pictures and documentaries would have one believe. He lived in the busy world of Augustus and Tiberius Caesar. And this book embraces that period with vast wisdom and knowledge. It is outdated, yes. But the period in which it was written (late 1800's) is no doubt partly responsible for it's profound simplicty and overwhelming charm. Happy reading.
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on May 13, 2002
This classic work is a goldmine of information about the context of the Gospels. Many of the events and sayings in Jesus's become even clearer when we understand the widespread Rabbinic teachings of His day. Edersheim's insight into the famous "Thou art Peter" is most interesting -- yes, Jesus was speaking Hebrew but he DID mean to distinguish petros and petra, because these names had also been incorporated into Hebrew and Aramaic. It's also very important to see how Jewish writers interpreted Messianic prophecies to see that the NT writers were following accepted procedure.
For something more modern, I recommend Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum's books, especially Messianic Christology.
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on July 27, 2005
I was given a copy of the above referenced book as a birthday gift in 1990. I began reading it in 1992 and completed it within 3 months. I picked up the book again in 1998 and have read it, in its entirety, at least once a year since then. I truly consider myself more then a casual reader of this magnificent work! That being said, my review...

For the believing Christian, this is a must read. For the skeptic, consider yourself remiss to overlook this book and for the Non-believer, this work will renovate your thinking. Edersheim has put together a true masterpiece herein. His depth of research on the subject matter is totally comprehensive. A commitment of 7 years, in almost complete solitude, was made to the writing of this book by he and his daughter.

Literally thousands of footnotes, drawn from nearly every major Jewish writing of the time, are listed on the pages of this book indicating the intense discipline and scholarly effort enforced by the writer. An impression of truth and trustworthiness almost overwhelms readers as they have literally noted in conversation with me as I have passed this book along to many friends and acquaintances.

This book is a bon-a-fide "best effort" to set before it's readers the daily foot steps of Jesus of Nazareth so that His words and works may bring us to an understanding of Jesus The Messiah that will blaze with a brightness that will light every other understanding.

Finally, to put oneself to the task of completing this book is an undertaking. However, as noted by Edersheim himself, we are called to look upon Jesus with intent and resolve before we will see him as the "God-Man". ( St. John 6:40)
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on February 9, 1999
Alfred Edersheim's heritage as a Messianic Jew gives the description of Jewish culture in "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" an authenticity that a non-Jew would be hard-pressed to duplicate. The culture of Israel during the Roman occupation comes alive in Edersheim's writing in a way that goes beyond scholastic study by blending his own Jewish heritage, archeological fact, and keen spiritual insight. Any serious student of the Gospels or the Epistles would benefit from the insight of Mr. Edersheim because so much of the imagery in the account of Jesus is steeped in the culture of Israel as it progressed from Abraham to Herod. Used as a reference, "The Life and Times" is indexed according to verses and events and gives Bible studies the context for the illustrations of Jesus. Read as a book, Edersheim is ponderous, however, a contiguous reading would give a person a consistent Hebrew framework which the New Testament fit into 2000 years ago. "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" has become a fixture in my library which, second to the Bible, is now a standard starting point in my study of Jesus, the Messiah.
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on February 7, 2000
While somewhat outdated, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah remains a magnificent reference to the historical and cultural setting to the days of Jesus of Nazareth. Although written some 70 years prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Edersheim's great work still offers highly valuable information and insight on the Gospels and related events. One of the more striking features of the book is the appendix list of 400+ Old Testament passages which were tagged by the ancient rabbis as being messianically applied. An absolute must for anyone who wish to study the Jewish expectations of the Messiah surrounding the days when the Nazarene Carpentar walked the Earth. Place this vintage masterpiece in your library, and you will find yourself going back to it time and time again.
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on August 14, 1999
In Bible school I had to use this book as a resource in writing several papers. Since then I have added it to my personal library. The book is excellent in exploring the cultural setting of the life of Jesus. Valuable insights have been gained as to what Jesus was referring to when he taught. This book is a definite must for refrence.
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on October 20, 2004
Fantastic reference book by Edersheim. May be a dificult read for some, but it is a well documented work of research for any Bible student.
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on December 10, 2005
this is the best book i have ever read on jesus other than the bible. this man was very knowledgeable about his subject. he was also very familiar with his subject [jesus] as you will see when you read this book. no christian should be without this book in his library.
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on March 21, 2011
1. Lots of information on early Judaism, carefully footnoted from primary sources. In the footnotes, lots of arguments with other scholars, chiefly German (as was typical in the late nineteenth century). Some of author's weighing of evidence will have been challenged in the 100+ years since this book was first published, and new sources will have been discovered; new archaeological sites too. But this is still a good starting-point, if only for the quantity of early sources that are collected in one place.

2. Florid prose.

3. This reprint edition has more than the usual number of typographical errors. Most of these are harmless, but sometimes they change the sense. E.g., on p. 304: "We are _not_ in some measure prepared to follow the worship on that Sabbath in Nazareth" should read "We are _now_ in some measure prepared..."
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on January 28, 2000
While a little outdated now, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah remains as both an excellent and massive reference work to the historical setting to the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Written some 70 years prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Alfred Edersheim's great work still offers highly valuable-and detailed-information on the Gospel and related events. One of the more striking features of this book is the appendix section which gives a list of 400+ Old Testament passages which were tagged by the ancient rabbis as messianically applied. An absolute must for any who wish to study the Jewish expectations of the coming of Messiah surrounding the days when the Carpentar from Nazareth walked the Earth. Place Edersheim's great work in your library, and you will find yourself going back to it time and time again.
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