I have gotten involved with TheOOZE (www.theooze.com) in something they call Viral Bloggers. Sounds contagious doesn't it. In a respect I guess it could be. They offer the latest in spiritually themed books if you are an existing blogger, and if you will read it and provide a review on the book. They have to check out your blog first to see if its a good fit, then you get approved and choose a book.
So this is my first run at it. I chose "A Prayer To Our Father...Hebrew Origins of The Lord's Prayer" by Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. The title peaked my interested, as well as the background of the authors. Nehemia is in Jerusalem and is Jewish and holds so many credentials in this arena that its too much to list here. Keith is African American, has a Master's of Divinity and is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. But my interest was that he served as Chaplain of the Minnesota Vikings.
The book starts out with the first 82 pages basically talking about the authors getting to know each other and discussing possibly where the certain important events took place geographically. They would travel to this or that location and Jerusalem and measure it against recorded scripture. Though it had some interesting information, I found this section of the book really dry or bland. I wanted to get to the meat of the subject and was not so impressed with the fact finding tour.
It took until page 83 (roughly midway through the book) for the authors to finally get to the actual Lord's Prayer, or Avinu Prayer as they called it. They broke each line down in separate chapters, and this aspect was actually interesting as it finally addressed the subject of the book. Taking the version that we Christians/Protestants have learned and repeated forever, and comparing it to the Hebrew version of Matthew, they pointed out several words, phrases, etc. that actually put the prayer into a different perspective. Using the cultural events of the day, the historical references and play on words in the prayer, this brought a better understanding of what and why we are saying what we are saying. I found this part worthy of reading. I even taught my christian education class using the section on Daily Bread.
I would recommend this book if you like to read more factual based works. I compared it to reading history or archaeology. If you don't like reading those type topics, you may not like reading this. But the information is good. It is presented rather dry, and there really are no punch lines. I think the information could have been boiled down to cliff note style, meaning the book was about twice as big as needed be.