05/01/2007

The Jesus I Never Knew (by Philip Yancey)

'The Jesus I Never Knew' is another excellent book by Philip Yancey, one of my favourite modern Christian writers. In this book, he examines the life of Jesus from a journalist's point of view: examining the evidence in the Gospels, and also looking at the cultural context of his life.

As ever, Yancey writes clearly and intelligently, although it's probably not a book to read at one sitting since it covers a great deal. After the introduction, explaining how the book came to be written, he starts at the beginning with the incarnation - the well-known account of Jesus' birth as a baby in a manger.

He draws the obvious contrast between the sterile and beautiful pictures we see at Christmastime and the reality of a teenager giving birth without medical aid, surrounded by animals. But he goes into more depth than is usual, enabling me to feel more than ever before a little of the confusion and embarrassment both Mary and Joseph would have felt, as well as the amazing wonder of God becoming man.

Subsequent chapters look at the Jewish background to Jesus' life, and what that would have meant in reality, the messages of the Beatitudes, the miracles, the final week of Jesus' life, and much more.

While written from a clear Christian perspective, the writing seems to me unbiased and helpful to anyone wanting to know more about Jesus, whatever their belief or background. Yancey does not try to push anyone towards faith, more to encourage them to look clearly at the facts and make any decision based on reality, not on the many failings of the church through the ages.

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