Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jesus: A Theography - Review


Leonard Sweet
Frank Viola
A Review

Jesus: A Theography is one of four books I am reading this fall on the life of Jesus.  Each of them serves as more conservative response to the question of the “historical jesus” raised over the last few years and most often answered by the more liberal church.  

Sweet has taken a very thorough approach that starts with the underlying truth that Jesus is eternal - he was present at creation (see Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2).  Sweet begins discussing the relationship of Jesus and the Godhead prior to the creation of the world and Jesus’ role in that creation.  

From there, the book explores the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  He begins the discussion of the resurrection by noting that

The great dividing line in history, ‘The moment when Before turned into After’ … is the BR/AR line of demarcation: Before Resurrection, After Resurrection. Resurrection is the theological singularity of all singularities, ushering in new realities that change everything.

Sweet and Viola take the long view on the life of Christ - it neither started nor ended with Jesus’ life on earth.  They life and death are milestones, but they are not the beginning or ending of His ministry.  Though occasionally hard to read, the book presents a well integrated view of Jesus - borrowing from both the “First” Testament (i.e. the Old Testament) and the “Second” Testament (i.e. the New Testament).  The authors use these alternate terms because they realize that  all the scriptures point to Jesus.  Because Jesus is eternal, “Old” or “New” does not apply to Him.  

The book is soundly rooted in Scripture as the authors examine Jesus’ life.  At times it was difficult to read, but it was valuable spending the time reading the book.  Jesus is not some weak man whose life ended on a cross.  But there is a strength in Him that reaches across time - beginning before Creation and continuing after the End of the World.  

The final chapter begins with a quote from Philippians 1:5, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”.  It is this attitude that Sweet and Viola have spent the book introducing to us.  As the reader moves through the book, he or she will become increasingly appreciative of who Jesus was and how He challenged his world and ours.  The book closes with a reminder of the many roles that Jesus played:

To the architect. He is the chief cornerstone.
(i Peter 2:6)

To the bride, He is the bridegroom.
(Matt. 25:1)

To the carpenter. He is the door.
(John 10:9)

To the engineer. He is the new and living way.
(Heb. 10:20)

To the farmer. He is the Lord of the harvest.
(Matt. 9:38)

To the horticulturist. He is the true vine.
(John 15:1)

To the jurist, He is the righteous judge.
(2 Tim. 4:8)

To the lawyer, He is the advocate.
(1 John 2:1)

To the philanthropist, He is the unspeakable gift.
(2 Cor. 9:15)

To the philosopher. He is the wisdom of God.
(2 Cor. 1:24)

To the preacher. He is the Word of God.
(Rev. 19:13)

To the soldier. He is the captain of his salvation.
(Neb. 2:10)

To the statesman. He is the desire of the nations.
(Hag. 2:7)

To the sinner. He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.
(John 1:29)
—HENRIETTA MEARS (1890-1963)

And that is the picture that is painted of Jesus by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola in Jesus: A Theography.
This review is based on a free electronic copy of this book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.  

1 comment:

John said...
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