Dec 12, 2012

Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ is a somewhat controversial figure. Everyone has or is looking for an answer to the question, "Who is (or was) Jesus Christ?" There is very little denying that Jesus was a real person who really walked the earth in the first century AD, but one you get past that there are many divergent answers. The most popular scholarly thing to do in 21st century American culture is to join the quest for the "Historical Jesus." This view examines Jesus through a historical lens and sometimes discounts scripture as a valid source for understanding Jesus. Apart from discounting scripture, I think that it is valid and helpful to see Jesus through the lens of first century Jewish (and Roman) culture. Where this can fall short, however, is looking at the bigger picture of who Jesus is beyond his life on earth. This is why Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have written Jesus: A Theography. It is their belief, that while these historical pictures of Jesus are helpful, they are lacking the life of Christ before and after incarnation. The ultimate goal of their book Jesus is to give a picture of Christ in light of the entirety of scripture and not just within the Gospels.

Sweet and Viola begin before the beginning. As a member of the trinity, the Son is eternal existing before the creation of the word. Because of this, Jesus tries to paint a picture of the eternal relationship of the trinity that existed before the creation of the world. From there, they move to the creation of the world itself. This is likely where some will begin to disagree with the interpretation of Creation. Sweet and Viola look for Christ in the days of creation and interpret them somewhat allegorically. They describe how the days of creation illustrate the earthly life of Christ told in the gospels. For those who interpret the Bible literally, this description of Creation might be a bit of a stretch. Once you get beyond this section, however, the book turns to the usual topics of discussion. From the Creation account, Sweet and Viola turn to the earthly life and ministry of Christ. This section of the book is an in depth look at who Jesus is and what he did on earth. The last few chapters book tell the life of Christ after the resurrection and discuss the inevitable return of Christ.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's not a short read, but it is time well spent. Even in the sections where some might disagree with their interpretation, Sweet and Viola do a fantastic job of digging into the life of Jesus Christ. This is a book that almost anyone can read. They do a great job of showing their research and giving good explanatory notes. While it may not be deemed as scholarly as some works, they have certainly shown their work and anyone studying Jesus would benefit from reading this book. If you are looking for a great biography to read, I suggest Jesus: A Theography. It would an appropriate read for the Christmas season or to start the new year.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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