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I consider myself a "Christian" (as in a "follower of 'Christ'"), and I am interested in learning more about Judaism, so that I can better understand the Jewish roots of Christianity.

I've gotten myself a Hebrew-English parallel Tanakh, and have invested in learning the Hebrew language, but progress have been slow. I've also found some articles on topics in the Talmud Balvi, but have been hampered in my reading by my total unfamiliarity with the Jewish mindset.

Could anyone recommend books on how I could start this journey, or even general direction on how I may proceed?

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Don't be discouraged by your difficulty in understanding the Talmud. It is a very technical document, and was not ever intended to be read by people who did not already possess a deep knowledge of the topics discussed within. It constantly references itself and follows drawn-out strings of logic to arrive at conclusions (and sometimes never arrives at a conclusion) –  Daniel Jul 18 '13 at 17:28
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Duplicate of judaism.stackexchange.com/q/6988? Even if not, answers there may be useful to you, asker. –  msh210 Jul 18 '13 at 17:39
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Don't bother with Talmud. Read more modern, readable books, and/or the Bible (Tanach). (Ping @Daniel too.) –  msh210 Jul 18 '13 at 19:02
    
Indeed I'm starting with a copy of the Tanach, already liking it better than my existing bibles. I'm still just reading the English translation now, but trying to learn Hebrew so that I could read it at some point in the original tongue as well. –  Darkwoof Jul 27 '13 at 9:18
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4 Answers 4

Strongly recommend Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's books.

(His Torah translation is superb and also available online). "If You were God" is great for theology; "The Real Messiah" addresses Judaism's views towards Christianity.

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This answer would be even more valuable if it included some additional information about why R' Kaplan's books, in general, are recommended for this purpose. –  Isaac Moses Jul 18 '13 at 17:26
    
I read a review of "If You Were God" on Amazon, the use of reasoning and hypothetical situations to help readers see through the eyes of God seems like a something I'll be into. Thanks for the recommendation. –  Darkwoof Jul 27 '13 at 9:16
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A tremendous reference for beginners is Rabbi Mordechai Becher's Gateway To Judaism. Rabbi Becher has been teaching Jewish philosophy on all levels as a lecturer for Gateways forever. He tried to write a book for the newcomer to cover all bases.

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16 5-star reviews on Amazon (and none from 1 to 4 stars!) so it seems that the book is well regarded. There wasn't a review that went in-depth into describing how the book is different from others, though at least two mentioned that it is at the same, or is even better than Rabbi Hayim Donin's classic "To Be A Jew". I just happened to get the latter at a sale, would probably get this "Gateway to Judaism" next. Thanks! –  Darkwoof Jul 27 '13 at 9:25
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the Way of God by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto is well structured and encompasses all the main points. however, without much guidance from an orthodox Rabbi, you will see this book (or any other book, including the torah itself) through your own glasses and framework and will likely misunderstand alot of it.

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Unfortunately as a citizen in a country where being a Christian is a minority and Jews are even more rare, the chances of me getting guidance from an orthodox Rabbi seems to be rather rare. In any case, I read that this book is written largely from a Kabbalistic perspective; is this school of thought accepted as part of mainstream orthodox Judaism? –  Darkwoof Jul 27 '13 at 9:36
    
@Darkwoof Yes, kabbalistic thought is one of the big currents in orthodox Jewish thought. –  gt6989b Aug 5 '13 at 18:59
    
@Darkwoof by the way, where do you live exactly? –  gt6989b Aug 5 '13 at 19:01
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A book that I have found very helpful in understanding Jewish thought is African Soul Talk written by Rabbi Warren Goldstein and Dumani Mandela.

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This answer would be even more valuable if it included some additional information about why this book is recommended for this purpose. –  Isaac Moses Jul 18 '13 at 17:57
    
Yes, the brief description of the book on Amazon seemed to find it more relevant to nation building in South Africa, and if it does touches on Judaism, only more so in the modern socio-political context. Would appreciate comments on why this book is recommended for this purpose. –  Darkwoof Jul 27 '13 at 9:40
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