Review: The Burning Word

This is not the sort of book I usually read, but when I met and talked with its author this summer at the Glen West conference in Santa Fe, well, I had to read her book. Judith Kunst is a scholar, poet, wife, mother, and biblical explorer (not necessarily in that order). Having grown up in a conservative Christian home she, like many, eventually needed to find her own way with her faith and the Bible. Somewhere in that journey she discovered the Jewish way of Midrash. In an intricately woven account of her scholarly discoveries, mixed with a substantial amount of autobiography, she demonstrates what Christians can learn from their Jewish forerunners, what she calls “the tradition behind my tradition.” That tradition, she says, “celebrates conversation more than information.”

Once I started this book I could hardly put it down. It is fresh, informative and touchingly honest. Perhaps my own love of the book is enhanced by having met its author, but I believe many will appreciate what she offers here without that privilege. The notes and glossary in the back will help those who want to continue the study of Midrash beyond this slim introduction.

[Judith M. Kunst. The Burning Word: A Christian Encounter with Jewish Midrash. Brewer , MA: Paraclete Press. 2006. 151 pages.]