TBTB – Sweet Valley Saga

Sweet Valley Saga | Snark Valley

One of my girlhood guiltiest pleasures was Sweet Valley High, created by Francine Pascal. Pascal’s Sweet Valley Confidential holds the dubious distinction of receiving the lowest book rating ever. Nonetheless, my favorites in the series were the sagas – genealogies of the fictional stars. The first book traces the maternal line of the Wakefield twins, Elizabeth and Jessica. While I found some of it contrived (yes, even in girlhood, I thought it was contrived), I liked the idea of family story, their genealogy. I believe I went on to read the second book, which followed the story of Ned Wakefield’s , the twins’ father, side of the family tree. For a more detailed description, visit Snark Valley’s review of this book by clicking here.

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books tbt

The Gospel According to Matthew

St. Matthew | Bible Studies - Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, CO

MatthewNIV archaeological study Bible: An Illustrated walk through Biblical history and culture. (2005). Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan. 9780310938521.

Matthew was the fifth book I finished in the Read through the Bible Challenge. The Gospel of Matthew is the first book comes of the New Testament and thus, the first Gospel (Good News) book I’ve read in this challenge.

Scholars normally give credit to Matthew the Disciple for the writing of this gospel and they consider this book one of the Synoptic Gospels. A Jewish tax collector, Jesus requested that Matthew (then Levi) follow Him as one of His disciples.

This gospel easily divides into four parts: I. The genealogy, birth, and infancy of Jesus, II. The life and ministry of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, III. The life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and IV. The sacrifice, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Great Commission.

The gospels of the New Testament form the bedrock of the Christian faith. 
Of all the gospels in the Bible, scholars and Christians alike consider Matthew the most Jewish-centric. Bible laureate and Christian hedonist Beth Moore calls Christians, saying “Matthew wrote to show that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah” (Moore, 2002). For example, Matthew begins by listing the genealogy of Jesus through His earthly father-figure Joseph and traces it all the way back to Abraham, the Father of the Nations.Still and all, Matthew does tell of Mary’s immaculate conception of the Messiah and that Jesus extended the gift of salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike.

So many of the verses of Matthew remain with me, however I’ve selected the Great Commission:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

For more on Matthew and Bible-Reading Challenge, check out the following links:

The Book of Ruth

Naomi entreating Ruth to follow Orpah by William Blake

Ruth – NIV archaeological study Bible: An Illustrated walk through Biblical history and culture. (2005). Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan. 9780310938521.

Ruth was the fourth book I completed in the Read through the Bible Challenge. Another “History,” this book comes after Judges in the Christian Bible. Ruth differs greatly from the other “History” books in that it seemed like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Also, I read the whole book in one sitting.

In the time of the Hebrew Judges, a famine drove an Israelite family from Bethlehem into Moab. They were Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their sons Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech died in Moab and both his sons took Moabite wives – Ruth and Orpah respectively. Then, Mahlon and Chilion died. Naomi embarked on a trip back to Bethlehem and her daughters-in law followed. When Naomi insisted these widows return to Moab, Orpah did so. Yet, Ruth eloquently stays with her mother-in law.

Upon their arrival, Naomi called herself Mara for the Lord has dealt with her bitterly. Ruth began gleaning the fields of Boaz, a cousin of the late Elimelech. Boaz permitted this due to Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi. From this point forward, Naomi pushes Ruth towards marriage with Boaz.

This book is part of the Hebrew Tanakh, more specifically the The Five Megillot. Ruth is remarkable in that this book relates a story of a non-Israeli woman who ultimately becomes part of the line of David and then Jesus Christ. While I may be uncomfortable with Naomi’s methods for ensnaring Boaz as a husband for Ruth, I did admire both Ruth and Boaz. Also, this book bears another one of my favorite passages from the Bible. The passage is often voiced during weddings but it began as something a devoted daughter-in law said to her mother-in law.

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:16-18)

For more on Ruth and Bible-Reading Challenge, check out the following links:

Roots (TV mini-series)

On this day thirty-four years ago, the TV mini-series based on Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family premiered. Haley’s 1976 work traced his paternal line to Gambia. Both the book and the mini-series inspired people to research their own roots – studying genealogy.

A special thanks to Shauna Hicks for retweeting this into my time line.