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Jesus: A Biography from a Believer (Christian Large Print Originals) Paperback – Large Print, 16 Mar 2011
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As the subtitle certifies, this is indeed the work of a believer, so it has the consequent bias of the believer's stance, but it does not detract from the fluid writing which is superb and clearly shows a masterly love of language and history. The book is a sketch of Christ's life, as Johnson himself affirms at the beginning, but it reflects many years of reading and historical study on the author's part, and the final result is a story beautifully told, with clarity and brevity, conveying joy and commotion.
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During my second reading of "Jesus, a Biography from a Believer", I took to pausing to read (in the King James Version) nearly each one of the dozens of verse citations sprinkled throughout the biography. For me, "Jesus" has become a supplemental bible study. A real "page-turner" which for me, reads like a thriller.
Today, I am reading "Jesus" for the third time.
Jesus is a biographical journey of the Christ form his birth in Bethlehem to His crucifixion on Golgatha and His resurrection in the garden. Johnson tells the familiar story by following the outline of the synoptic gosepls and the maverick gospel John. The book is filled with biblical quotations and sparkling insights. Among the quotes by Johnson I noted the following with my trusty Lamy pen:
"The world into which Jesus was born was harsh, cruel, violent and unstable. It was also materialistic and increasingly wealthy."-p. 11
"...the massacre of the innocents...reminds us of the darker side of life in an obscure province of the Roman Empire in the first century AD."-p. 23
"It is a somber and unwelcome fact that for more than half of Jesus' life we know absolutely nothing about what he did or where he went or how he lived."-p. 27
"He was man, and needed to be man, for four reasons" First, to put people to the test of faith. Second, to communicate as a human being. Third, to suffer. And fourth, to serve as a model for all time, which he could do only as man-the way of Jesus."And being a man, he needed helpers, disciples, apostles."-p. 47
"He was a reluctant miracle worker."-p. 59
"The truth is, Jesus was not so much a rhetorician, or a preacher, as a poet."-p. 99
"The essence of a Jesus parable is to stimulate thought..."-p. 106
"His speech was silver, but we weigh his silences in gold."-p. 122
"...those who have followed him over two thousand years have made the world a better place, and they have enabled many of those who dwell in it to lead more fulfilled and happier lives."-p. 161
"The Christianity he bequeathed has not been tried and failed. As G.K. Chesterton once wrote, it has been found difficult and left untried. But it remains at our disposal. It's message, at its simplest is; do as Jesus did."-p. 226
As a Presbyterian pastor I would recommend this little gem of a book as a gift to new church members; participants in a confirmation class or as a personal devotional or text in a church school class. It's a fine book of Christian belief!
Although I have read the Bible, this book is ideal for those wanting to learn more about Jesus Christ as it's center subject without a religious tilting towards a certain Christian viewpoint.
Highly recommended for those beginning their journey with Christ to those who are fortunate to have had Him as a leader, above all others, in their life for years. Also, a good book for children ages 12+ to learn more about Jesus, as a man, while on this earth and the happenings and His beliefs which guided Him to be our Savior.
As a believer, I had to adjust my perspective while reading the first three chapters, mainly because I am accustomed to more analytical text with footnotes and cross-references when reading about Jesus or God's Word.
The subtitle is true to the text - this is a biography, and it paints a visual image of its subject. Johnson summarizes the era of Jesus' birth and life on earth with fresh insights on cultural practices and gives you a sense for the man behind the red letter verses in the Bible.
Johnson's economy of language hits the nail on the head. No fluff. No sense that the author has to jam one more thing in to prove his point. It reads like eloquent campfire storytelling, relating the author's recollections of his old friend, Jesus. "You should have seen the way Jesus addressed the leaders of his day...like nothing you can imagine. Calm, poised, one step ahead of the game. He was forever a paradox, loving the unlovable and turning conventional wisdom and rule-following on its ear." (my own paraphrase, not a direct quote from the text).
This may be the most winsome, read-it-in-a-day portrait of Jesus you will find, and may be the book about Jesus that intrigues the skeptic to want to learn more.