I will say right off that I write this review pretty much as an atheist. I certainly do not believe in much of what the Christian Scriptures have to say regarding miracles. I want to get that out so that any bias I have might be obvious.
That said, I think this is an excellent book. Spong writes very well, in a conversational and engaging style. You never feel you are being preached to and you have no doubt at all of this man's intelligence in his writing. Regarding the book, it seems to be showing you Spong's view of Jesus that he has come to accept in order to be an intellectually fulfilled person in this day and age and yet still be a spiritual one. Is this a redefinition of Jesus? To many, that is how it will be perceived. I think to Spong he feels that his view of Jesus is one that actually gets back to what Jesus represented and how the early writers (such as the Gospel writers) were actually representing him. To that end, I would say that Spong does a great job convincing me of the veracity of his vision in the sense that he presents a wonderful life philosophy. The book would do nothing to convince me to believe in the veracity of Jesus, per se, except in so far that one might call this life philosophy by "the Christ". Spong manages to do this, in some fashion, without believing in all the miracle stories of the Bible. At least I feel this to be the case. After reading the book I am not exactly sure where Spong stands on all the issues regarding Jesus' life (he refers you to his later books, which I will definitely read now) but I get the impression that he seems to feel Jesus was certainly more man than some sort of incarnation of the Hebrew Yahweh.
Regarding the book content itself, I like the idea of seeing Jesus through Hebrew eyes. I think that really was a mainstay of the book because you always have to look at people from the past in terms of what they represented in their cultural milieu. Spong makes a good case about the gospel writers (some of them, anyway) being influenced by Second Isaiah. That was interesting to me as I had never considered that. However, for myself, I disagreed (tentatively) with some of Spong's conclusions regarding how the gospel writers wrote. His interpretation of that, however, is definitely a good one and worthy of study. For myself, I do not think the gospel writers were as sophisticated as Spong seems to give them credit for but, then again, he does at least present the tendrils of a good case in that regard. I also do not feel that this book takes into account some of the notions that Jesus was part of the Zealots, which would undermine some of what Spong has to say.
However, one has to remember that this book is not meant to be a treatise on scholarship regarding the actual life of Jesus. So if one expects it to succeed in that realm, one would be missing the point of the book. The book is the story of how one man has looked at a definition of Jesus that he believes is relevant to the twentieth and twenty-first century. I highly recommend this book, particularly to those like myself who have little faith in religion. This book will probably not make you a believer but it will make you realize that it is possible to be very intellectual, very engaging, very articulate, as well as being very spiritual. I think that even if you abstract out the religious elements of Spong's book, the main theme still holds together. That is quite an accomplishment and makes it, in my opinion, well worth the read.