One of my favorite things to do is teach the Gospels, particularly when I am introducing others to the Jewish insights into the life and ministry of Jesus. Having good resources are extremely valuable to be able to do so effectively, and often requires an extensive library. But what if we were able to find nearly all of the information we need in a single source? A source such as this would be extremely valuable. I have found such a source in Chronicles of the Messiah from First Fruits of Zion. D. T. Lancaster offers a well-rounded, well-documented approach to the Gospels in this extensive commentary. There are few others which pull together such a vast range of source material to expound upon the Gospels. Chronicles pulls from scholarly, rabbinic and evangelical resources to provide a detailed backdrop for the Gospel narrative. It provides a chronological walk through the Gospels, harmonizing all four of the Gospel accounts into a running commentary. Chronicles is a commentary which places Jesus back into a first century, Jewish context, rather than one envisioned by Christian apologists. Each chapter contains extensive endnotes with citations and clarifications, which are extremely valuable for any serious student.
The bulk of Chronicles has been previously published in FFOZ’s Torah Club format (loose leaf 3-hole binders), but is now being offered in this attractive, hardbound, six-volume set. Rather than being contained in multiple three-ring binders, which was really designed to be a source for personal and small group study, the hardbound format allows this work to become more portable and easily accessible, as well as serving a broader range of application. The new edition will also serve as a credible reference source for clergy and laymen alike.
Out of the six volumes, the first five are the actual commentary. The sixth volume is an extremely useful appendix. It is invaluable in that it provides multiple indices for the series, additional essays, charts, maps, tables, time line, and a glossary. It is the key to not just finding Scripture references and subject material, but to tracking down rabbinic and patristic citations, non-canonical parallels to Gospel passages, or a particular parable or event within the timeline of the Gospels. The appendix also includes an extremely valuable analytical harmony, which not only harmonizes the accounts across all four Gospels, but also allows for quick access to the associated commentary.
Lastly, the typesetting and design of this work is consistent with the professionalism of other FFOZ projects. From its beautiful appearance to its clean and spacious interior, this work warmly invites the reader to engage with its contents.
Chronicles of the Messiah, is in my opinion, one of the most important projects to date within Messianic Judaism. I believe it will not only establish credibility to Messianic Jewish faith, but also become the goto source for commentary on the Gospels among Bible students. Although many will find the price tag a bit daunting, comparison with similar resources reveal that they are competitively priced. With five volumes coming in at just under 1,800 pages of commentary, plus a 200+ page appendix, Chronicles of the Messiah is well worth the investment for any serious student of the Bible, particularly pastors and teachers. In publishing the Chronicles of the Messiah, First Fruits of Zion has achieved what I believe to be a benchmark in Gospel commentaries not only within Messianic Judaism, but within mainstream Christian commentaries as well.