Jesus: A Biography

The first thing one must acknowledge about JESUS: A THEOGRAPHY by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola (Thomas Nelson, 2012) is that it is written for the layperson who is already a believing Christian what is commonly referred to as an evangelical.  It is not scholarly book meant for the seminary student, although I do not want imply that a seminarian would not profit from reading it.  It is written in a popular style and does not assume a very sophisticated reader.

The central theme of the book is that the Bible is a single narrative that is all about Jesus Christ from Genesis through Revelation.  There nothing new in that.  Any evangelical Christian, this reviewer included has heard that many times, and has no problem agreeing with it.  After all, we recognize the Bible as divine revelation, not a collection of myths and attempts by various individuals to answer those perennial questions of the meaningfulness, if any, of what exists.

Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have taken on a difficult task.  The book is published by a prominent Christian publishing house to be sold primarily through Christian bookstores.  Hence they had to write within certain acceptable interpretations.  They had to keep one eye on the targeted market while trying to write a book that is both intellectually creditable and helpful.

Although I believe the subject could have been covered in far fewer pages, and perhaps too many concessions are made to avoid offending the intended audience, Sweet and Viola have succeeded in their mission.  The average Christian in the pew, the all too few who actually read books, will benefit from this very readable and understandable book.  The Bible IS all about Jesus Christ, and JESUS: A THEOGRAPHY makes that point in a convincing way.  Those who wish to pursue the topic further will find sufficient titles written by theologians and published by presses that specialize in publishing books for the more sophisticated pilgrim.

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