Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Review: JESUS: A BIOGRAPHY FROM A BELIEVER by Paul Johnson (Viking, 2010)

"Great explainer" Paul Johnson (MODERN TIMES, A HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY, ART: A NEW HISTORY, and a wagonload of other sweeping chronicles) definitely now seems to be content with sketches, rather than panoramas. CHURCHILL was a good one, and here is another, a mini-biography of Jesus Christ that draws almost entirely from the records of the New Testament. What the work lacks in critical erudition, it more than makes up for in its common-sense positioning of the human figure of Christ in his life and times. Johnson is particularly effective at describing how Jesus interacted with different groups (children, women, the poor) during his ministry and is bold enough to outline Christ's "new version" of the Ten Commandments, a list that made plenty of sense to me. Johnson is writing from the perspective of a Christian believer, but the book is easily accessible to anyone interested in the development of world religions and the importance of "founding character" in building a new religious faith. Highly recommended.

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