29/11/2011

The Way of Jesus (by Dr Bruce Farnham)

I don't know anything about Bruce Farnham, other than that - according to the blurb on the back of this book - he was a scientist by training, and lived for many years in the Middle East. I can't find anything about him on any website. Perhaps this is the only book he wrote.

I don't even know how we acquired 'The Way of Jesus' or how long we've had it; perhaps we picked it up at some random church bookstall, or even in a charity shop. In any case, I had not previously read it, so picked it up about three months ago to find out what it was about.

It's taken me that long to complete it, not because it's dull or difficult, but because we were away for three weeks, and because it didn't tell me anything new or particularly inspiring.

On the other hand, this book was clearly written, explaining who the historical Jesus was and what his followers believe. It doesn't state that it was written for people of Middle Eastern background, but it was fairly obvious to me that it was intended for them primarily. The author manages to avoid jargon and 'churchianity'; instead he focuses more on what the early Christian disciples believed, as well as looking at how modern gatherings of Jesus's followers might look, outside of the familiar Western culture.

The book includes chapters on topics such as social justice, the way Jesus clashed with false religion, and what Jesus actually taught (as opposed to what much of the Western church teaches). It looks, too, at historical evidence for the life and death of Jesus. The chapters are quite long, and I found my concentration waning if I read more than a few pages at a time, but it was interesting enough to persevere and - eventually - to finish the book.

It was undoubtedly somewhat long-winded in places, and I didn't agree with every single word, although most of it was standard Christian teaching from a contextual perspective .Overall I thought it was well presented, and could be of interest to anyone wanting to know about Jesus, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, without having to wade through the layers of Western culture that permeate so many of his followers.

So, generally recommended to anyone.. if you can find it. It was originally published in 1986 and is long out of print, but is the kind of thing that turns up in charity shops and on church bookstalls.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 29th November 2011

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