The end product of biblical Christianity is a person—not a book, not a building, not a set of principles or a system of ethics—but one person in two natures (divine/human) with four ministries (prophet/priest/king/sage) and four biographies (the Gospels).
LEONARD SWEET AND FRANK VIOLA, Jesus: A Theography
What’s this book about?
Jesus from before time. Jesus in creation. Jesus in the stories of the Old Testament (or First Testament, as the authors call it to emphasize unity between the Old and New). Jesus in the flesh in the Second Testament accounts. Jesus now. Jesus still to come.
Jesus is the human face of God.
He is also the inbreaking of the eternal into time. This is a good definition of the kingdom of God, which is embodied in Jesus.
Why you’d like it
It will show you new ways to see Jesus now by seeing him anew in old stories. Some you’re familiar with: Jesus as deliverer (Moses); Jesus as Shepherd (David); Jesus as sacrifice (lamb). Jesus as the new Solomon, the new Temple, the new Elijah.
But authors Sweet and Viola include other nuances as well, such as Jesus as the new Joseph, the new Isaac, and even the new Boaz (our kinsman-redeemer). The gospel of John as the new Genesis. The parallels between the days of creation and Jesus. The church as the new Eve. Jesus as personification of the Torah. The day of Pentecost as the reversal of Babel.
During His ministry, Jesus spoke on four issues more than He did anything else:
1. The kingdom of God—the manifestation of God’s ruling presence, here now and yet coming.
2. Life—the eternal life that is embodied in Himself. A life that would be imparted to His followers after His resurrection. A life that they would live by.
3. His Father—the offer to have a relationship with God as Father, the same relationship He had with the Father.
4. Himself—He (Jesus) was the fulfillment of the entire First Testament story and promises.
This book aims to bring a new connectedness not just between Old (or First) Testament and New (or Second) Testament, but between all the stories and Jesus. The narratives, metaphors, signs, and symbols all point to Jesus—either his person, his work, or his character.
Why you might not read it
It is long—over 400 pages. But the length is necessary to get all the material in.
And note that about 1/3 of the book is end notes (which are interesting in themselves, by the way). So the book’s length isn’t quite as daunting as it may first appear.
You might not agree with everything (but if that were a legitimate reason for not reading a book, we’d never read anything, right?!). A few analogies here and there were stretched (to me). But overall, I found it invigorating and thought-provoking.
Some may or may not take offense at this (I don’t):
The Bible in itself is not the Word of God. The Word of God is a person (John 1:1).
Neither does the Bible have life, power or light in itself any more than did the Jewish Torah. These attributes may be ascribed to the Bible only by virtue of its relationship to Him who is Word, Life, Power and Light.
Life is not in the book, as the Pharisees supposed, but only in the Man of the book (John 5:39).
. . . The Bible isn’t about salvation; it’s about Jesus Christ. Salvation is one of the things Christ does. But Jesus is far more than Savior.
Do I recommend you read it?
Definitely. It can give you a greater appreciation of God’s big plan throughout time to reveal himself to us through his Son.
The person of Jesus, not the red letters, is the crux of the story. The righteousness of God is revealed in red on the cross, not in red ink on the page.
The more you know him, the more you know you’re loved by him. And the more you know he loves you, the more you’ll love him back.
At the Jordan River the Father’s voice was heard from the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Consider those words for a moment. Before His baptism, Jesus had done no ministry yet. He had healed no sick person. He had set no one free. He had not selected His disciples, or done any mighty works for God.
And yet the Father’s full pleasure was upon Him.
There is a message here for every adopted child of God. God’s pleasure is not based on what you do for Him. It’s based on whether you are His child.
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MY THANKS TO THOMAS NELSON
FOR THE REVIEW COPY OF THIS BOOK