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June 1, 2010

Reviews of Saint Mary's Press® Essential Guide to Biblical Life and Times

Catholic Library World, June 2010

We all have struggled at times to understand some particular biblical reference, allusion, or metaphor and we understand our struggle because the writers of the Scriptures lived in a very different society and culture from the modern world in which we live. Every writer, even those divinely inspired, by necessity must reflect in his writing on the world in which he writes. Dr. Albl’s book will aid us to understand these culturally encoded passages from the Bible reflecting the pastoral/agrarian society in which they were written. Because of their relevance still today, we need a work like Albl’s to help us in our biblical studies and reading. The work is very simply written, directed to young Bible students and as an aid for catechists.

The Bible Today, July/August 2010

Reading the Bible is like visiting a foreign land. One needs all the help one can get with the language, culture, and institutions. Albl has provided such a guide covering the social and political institutions, customs, beliefs and values, and economic structures of the peoples one encounters in the Bible. There are fifty topics, each divided into several articles and ending in a list of related passages and themes, also tracing developments and/or variations from the Old Testament to the New. For example, the topic of food and drink (pp.54-61) has articles on bread, bread in the sacrifices, Jesus as bread of life, wine, wine at the Last Supper, milk and honey, meat, grapes, vegetables, grains, salt, food laws, and clean and unclean animals and a suggested rationale for this division. The book is written for high school and college students.

Midwest Book Review, Wisconsin Bookwatch, November 2009

In order to better understand the Bible, one must understand its time of origin. Essential Guide to Biblical Life and Times is a guide to better understanding the biblical society of thousands of years ago and making it known to modern readers who live in a radically different society where slavery isn’t something socially accepted, women are not considered property, and death isn’t the penalty for all major transgressions. Enlightening and a key proponent to better understanding the Bible to the fullest, Essential Guide to Biblical Life and Times is a solid and highly recommended resource, sure to help readers better grasp the Bible.