JohnSWilson3 Blog

Review of “Jesus: A Theography” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
November 25, 2012, 2:59 pm
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

This book above any other, including the Bible should be read by every follower of Jesus Christ. It is the one book that can help every gathering of brothers and sisters around this globe see how the Bible is to be read and understood. Too often people, Christian or otherwise will take the Bible and read it like any other book without understanding the unique way God meant for it to be read. Leonard and Frank remind us “that all the Scriptures are held together by a single narrative: the story of Jesus Christ.”

What Leonard and Frank do is none other than what Jesus said to the Jewish leaders: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you possess eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40, TNIV). And later to His disciples in Luke: “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45, TNIV).

Throughout church history brothers and sisters have often divided themselves over various interpretations of the Bible, because of using a wrong hermeneutic. Thankfully there have always been remnants of God’s people who “got it” throughout church history. Today is another one of those days in church history. Now in this unique book all of God’s people can see the unique way the Bible was meant to be read, not just a few. Leonard and Frank want believers to see that “the Bible contains its own hermeneutic” by which we understand the Scriptures: “Jesus Himself was the common source…Jesus is the interpretative key of the Bible…everything in the Bible points to Jesus – either His person, His work, or His character…He is the Canon within the canon.”

As Leonard and Frank say: “In a word, Jesus is the thread that holds all Scripture together. He is the prism that breaks forth its multifaceted colors. He is the lens that puts all of it into focus, the switch that sheds light on its dimly lit quarters, and the key that unlocks its meaning and richness.”

The authors also help inform the brothers and sisters when reading the Bible that history and composition matter. “The Bible didn’t emerge out of a vacuum. It is historical but also metaphorical and narrative story of truth written within history.” They state that “biblical logic defies logic. The Bible was written in a circle” because they were written at a time when the spoken word was written in what is called “ring composition.” The connections in the Bible are done “not sequentially but synoptically” because it is a “story-circle” not a “story-line.” As such reading the Bible must take into consideration the literary constructions of “(1) parallelism, (2) chiasmus, and (3) latch” which the authors describe in the book and as they relate it to reading the Bible in their many examples throughout the chapters of “Jesus: A Theography.” Too often the Bible is read like a novel, quickly, focusing on key parts, and then once done put it on the shelf. Or it is read like a ‘self-help’ book and we read only those parts we can ‘apply’ to make our lives ‘better.’ Because the Bible was written in “ring composition” it “forces one to slow down and pay attention to the details while never losing sight of the whole.”

It has been said by many that the “Introduction: The Jesus Story” from Leonard and Frank’s book is worth the price of the book. I would heartily agree! In fact this review is a review of the introduction because of this one section’s importance. In the rest of the book the authors pick up the Bible with the reader and together peer into Christ as they look afresh into the First and Second Testaments, the terms the authors use for the Old and New Testament. The rest of “Jesus: A Theography” applies what they speak of in their Introduction to help the brothers and sisters “discover that the entire story of Israel in the First Testament repeats itself in the life of Christ in the Second Testament. And it does so in almost every detail. In this regard, Jesus not only fulfills the First Testament narrative but also reenacts, relives, and replays it.” In the end the authors make an astute comment: “Don’t try to figure everything out or get everything right. Just let the story unfold. Let the Bible tell its own story to you. Trust the Jesus story as it moves from Genesis to Revelation. And see if the Holy Spirit doesn’t open your eyes to see the greatness of Christ anew and afresh.”

There have been many complicated theories and opinions put forth about many sundry things in the Bible, things that get the focus instead of Christ Jesus our Lord. I would encourage you to get a copy of this excellent book and see how Christ comes afresh from the pages of the Bible. Then as you read the Bible for yourself, see, as the authors tell us, that all the words of the Bible should be in “red” letters. May the Father by His Spirit open our eyes to Christ in the Bible! And let us not stop their, because it is only the beginning, “the elementary truth’s of God’s word… the elementary teachings about Christ” (Hebrews 5:12, 6:1, TNIV) because in truth the Scriptures teach us that God wants us to know the Christ, in Reality in one another!

May the prayer of Paul given to the brothers and sisters in Ephesus be our reality: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe…I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 1:17-19a, 3:16-19, TNIV).

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