Thursday, 12 October 2006

Idiot's Jesus

There's a Complete Idiot's Guide to Jesus. In this series, there is always ambiguity about whether it is the author or the reader who is the idiot. I'm pleased to say that the authors of this volume exonerate themselves of this charge. Their book is an excellent introduction to Jesus, as he is presented in the four Gospels. Most of the book works carefully, thoroughly and humorously through the Gospels, examining what Jesus said and did, and his various claims. In 'Jesus a.k.a' boxes throughout the book, they explore the many offices, titles and metaphors applied to him, adding something of a theological flavour to the otherwise person-centred approach.

It interests me that they began the book with Jesus as the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy, and they give an appendix listing the prophecies that Jesus fulfils. Does this assume a concern among readers for Christianity's relationship to the Hebrew Bible? That can hardly be the case. I wonder if it takes priority of place for the authors because of its 'wow!' factor. If Jesus' life and words were predicted in detail before hand, there's a heightening of excitement surrounding his identity: what kind of person has prophecies made about him?

The authors are clearly Christians, but their approach in the rest of the book is even-handedly historical and expository. Is the appeal to prophecy their efforts to make sure the book has apologetic and evangelistic impact? If so, do you think this kind of approach is likely to succeed in bringing people to ask "who do you say that I am?"?

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