Experience the true identity of Christ from Genesis to Revelation! With the aim of reclaiming Jesus' presence throughout Scripture, the authors combine the historical account of Jesus with a survey of the entire Bible. The Old and New Testaments are revealed as one entity that tells a coherent, unified narrative of the Son of God. 256 pages, hardcover from Nelson.
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Usually when someone is looking for a good book on the life of Jesus Christ, they either select one written from a historical position, or one from a theological perspective.
Now you have a new option: a "theography."
"Jesus - A Theography" is the latest book by co-authors Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola (published by Thomas Nelson) which examines the life of Christ from both historical and theological perspectives.
Many biographies of Jesus open with that familiar setting of a stable in Bethlehem. From a theological perspective, some start in the pristine Garden described in Genesis. But the true biography of Jesus must begin before there was a beginning, which is where Sweet and Viola take us as a starting point.
From pre-creation, this talented writing duo begin in earnest to show how Jesus Christ is the center of all scripture, not just the New Testament. Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!" (John 5:39 NLT), and the writers do a scholarly job of showing how all of scripture does, indeed, point to Jesus.
The scholarship of this book isn't just for scholars, although serious students of the Bible will enjoy this edition that comes replete with a sizeable notes section. Readers who are younger in the faith and newer to the Bible can find this book readable, understandable, and insightful; however, the content will sometimes require a little slower reading for processing and digesting than the simplistic topical books that are so common today.
"Jesus - A Theography" does a masterful job of revealing to us Christ in all of scripture, thus deepening our view and understanding of Jesus. If you want a deeper knowledge of Christ from a significant study from scripture as a whole, this volume by Sweet and Viola could be the perfect pairing with several cups of coffee and an open Bible.
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 2 for Jesus: A Theography
Date:February 8, 2013
Jesus in the Old Testament?! Jesus: A Theography By Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
There are some Christians who forget (or do not know) that Jesus was first and foremost a Jew. Even fewer probably are aware that Jesus was with God “in the beginning”. It’s not enough for Christians to only read the New Testament (what the authors call the “Second Testament”) to know who Jesus was. It is equally important to their faith to read the Old Testament (what the authors call the “First Testament”).” Consequently, if you read Scripture in a way that doesn’t point to Christ, you don’t have Christianity; you have a religion”.
The authors tell the story of Jesus from beginning, Genesis, to the end, Revelation. “All the books of that canon [the Bible] contribute to the plotline of God’s covenantal relationship with humanity through Jesus”.
What I found so remarkable about this book is that not only did the authors show me how Jesus was in the First Testament, but that they did it in layman’s terms. One does not have to be a seminary student or graduate to understand this book.
The story is also a love story for us. Not only a love story between God and His Son, but between God and His Creation. God wanted us humans to know Him better through His Son and His Son through the Holy Spirit as recorded in His Word, the Bible. It is also an account of God’s plan for His Creation. His way of communication to us is through His Word.
I thought I had a pretty good understanding of who Jesus was through my studying of the First (Old) Testament. One of the things I learned from this book is how God tells us about Jesus in the Creation story. Briefly, Day One: His birth, God created light; Jesus is referred to as “the light”; Day Two: His death, the separation of what is above and what is below; separation from the world (beneath) and the things of God (above), we are to die to those things of the world. Day Three: His resurrection, God gathered the waters together and the dry land together, land produced fruit on the third day, the first signs of life. Three is the number of resurrection: Jesus was resurrected on the third day. Day Four: His Ascension, God created the sun (Jesus was the embodiment of God’s light), moon is the embodiment of the church. Fourth day Jesus ascension. Day Five: His Indwelling Life, God created birds and fish, higher life forms the result of more light. Christian symbols: fish, dove for Holy Spirit. Day Six: His Rule, God created man in His image, Adam, first man, Jesus, second Adam; just as God gave Adam rule and authority over the whole earth, so did He give Jesus rule and authority over the whole earth. Day Seven, His rest, the Sabbath. Jesus Christ is the rest of God. “It is finished”, John 19:30.
This is just one example of how the First (Old) Testament speaks of Jesus, and only a brief summation. There is so much good information in this book, it’s hard to reduce it. It is far better to read the book instead of taking this short review. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants the know more about how Jesus was with God in the beginning and how Jesus fulfilled God’s plan for His Creation.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 3 for Jesus: A Theography
Worth the time spent to read!
Date:January 18, 2013
Pursue and Recover
This book was written by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. It is a long read but worth the time spent.
This book tells of the wondrous life of Jesus. It tells of his life before time and it continues with Genesis and goes on to Revelation and into the future.
This book is the first ever written to combine historical Jesus studies with biblical theology. It is attention holding and very informative whether you are an average reader or a bible scholar. It goes in-depth to teach us of the life of Jesus in a format that is inviting, detailed and intriguing.
It is a refreshing change to the usual books written about Jesus that doesn’t connect the Old and the New Testament together. This book is allows one to view Jesus in a whole new light.
I would recommend that it be purchased and added to anyone’s library who is interested in the life of Jesus and biblical learning in general.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Review 4 for Jesus: A Theography
"Read this book! It is SO GOOD!"
Date:December 31, 2012
Leonard Sweet, Frank Viola and The Thomas Nelson Publishing Company deserve a well thought out, professional sounding review of their book 'JESUS, a Theography'. My heart, however, simply wants to yell out, "Read this book! It is SO GOOD! It is SO important to read this!" As I read through the text I frequently felt as if the wind was being knocked out of me because the revelations were that dramatic! Before I finished reading it I had already ordered two copies to share with others.
This book offers deep insight into the person of Jesus as God, Creator and, most significantly to me, as the man He fully was while on earth. It reveals the way the entire bible breathes the story of our living redeemer.
In the first chapter we see where Jesus was, in regard to creation, and how the process of creation itself speaks about Christ through metaphor, analogy and typology. Subsequent chapters go on to explain the exhaustive symbolism in the first testament and how everything in history reveals the person and character of Jesus.
Sweet and Viola explain numerous portions of scripture through indepth views of the Jewish culture. For instance, there is good reason why it was to shepherds of Bethlehem that the angels appeared with the news of Christ's birth.
Every aspect of the life of Jesus is examined and discussed in this book. The last chapter addresses Jesus' growing awareness of His Messiahship and how He has been revealed through the scriptures. Jesus is the new David, the new Adam, the new Moses, Joseph and Isaac. 'The Bible is the narrative of Jesus - the Christ, the Savior, the living Lord, and our All.'
I strongly recommend this book to everyone who wants to expand their knowledge of Jesus and deepen their relationship with Him. I am in awe of my love for Him because of what I have gained by reading this precious work.
Jesus: A Theography by Len Sweet and Frank Viola is one of those books you want to read again, because there is so much to process. It's an excellent book that is bound to make you think deeply. Though written for the 'average' person, it still contains much deep, rich material and thoughts.
As he states in the introduction, this book sets out to show that ALL the Bible is meant to reflect and point to Christ.
"Let's face it. The Bible is often viewed as a disjointed array of stories, events, laws, propositions, truths, ethical statements, and moral lessons.
But we will demonstrate in this book, the sixty-six books of the Bible are woven together by a single storyline. Of of the best ways to look at the twenty-seven books of the New Testament may be to see them as a commentary on the Old Testament. The entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are unified by a common narrative. And once our eyes are open to see that narrative, everything in both Testaments gels into a coherent, understandable, and amazing story.
And what is that story? Well, it's not enough to call it "salvation history" as many people do.
No. It's the story of Jesus Christ.
The end product of biblical Christianity is a person -- not a book, not a building, not a set of principles or a system of ethics -- but one person in two natures (diving/human) with four ministries (prophet/priest/king/sage) and four biographies (The Gospels). But those four biographies don't tell the whole story. Every bit of Scripture if part of the same great story of that one person and that one story's plotline of creation, revelation, redemption and consummation."
If you are a fan of Frank Viola or Len Sweet you'll love this book. I recommend it.
So why another biography of Jesus? This one is different. The authors call his book a theography. They tell the story of God's interaction with humanity through the life of Jesus. They do not write about the details of Jesus' life. They write about the narratives, symbols, metaphors, and signs that are pictures of God touching humanity through Jesus. Sweet and Viola believe all sixty-six books of the Bible are woven together by a story line – the story of Jesus Christ. So their theography begins with creation and ends with the consummation. They suggest that reading the Bible through a christological lens changes the way we see and approach the entire Bible.
The authors use a great deal of symbolism in this book. Some of it, I think, is be beyond normal literary use. They write, “Jesus refers to Himself as a bird.” (26) The reference is Luke 13:34, “...how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings...” I think the simile is gathering and protecting, not that Jesus is likening Himself to a chicken!
They frequently have uncommon interpretations of Scripture (at least ones I've never heard before). They say Eve was formed on the eighth day. They then relate Eve to the church (as Adam prefigured Jesus). She is a new creation. She came out of Adam, as the church came out of Christ. The garden of Eden is compared to the temple of Israel, with much imagery related. They have relied heavily on Hebrew tradition for this, “...in the Hebrew tradition the temple and the garden are different ways of talking about the same reality.” (207) They suggest that Canaan (the Promised Land) does not represent heaven but the kingdom of God (warfare required).
The section I found the oddest was that on stones as metaphors. They list several places where stones were used, the first: “to guard the entrance to the garden of Eden: a stone.” (79) They then relate that to the resurrection account. “When Mary found the empty tomb in the garden, she found the stone had been rolled away (metaphorically, the stone guarding the garden of Eden)...” (83) They list no footnote so where they got this idea is beyond me. Later, they write, “In Genesis God told Cain that a sin offering would be placed at the door of the garden.” (83) The footnote is to Gen. 4:7. They must be reading a Bible vastly different from any I have. Mine says “sin is crouching at your door” and nothing about the door of the garden. (NIV) And then something else that just seems beyond normal was the short section on aroma. “The psalmist said that God can smell a proud person from a long way away: 'The proud He knows from afar,'” (232) The reference is Psalm 138:6. The NIV says He “sees them from afar” and says absolutely nothing about smell.
The authors include a great deal of conjecture and imagining. They imagine all the things Jesus remembered while carrying the cross (pp. 234-236). To me, that is the height of presumption and arrogance, to think they know what was in the mind of Jesus during that time. The very idea of a human putting thoughts into the mind of Jesus makes me tremble.
Ultimately, I had trouble with this book. I thought the initial idea, that the entire bible was Jesus' story, was great. But as I read through the book, there were just too many odd ideas, too many conjectures, too many connections imagined in the minds of the authors where none appears on the surface. I didn't like their relying so much on Hebrew tradition, as if non-biblical Hebrew writers were as inspired as the writers of the Old Testament. I don't think Hebrew tradition should carry the same weight as the biblical text.
But I do like their conclusion: “In short, the message of the gospel is this: Jesus Christ is Lord (world ruler), Savior, the fulfillment of the entire First Testament (including the Adamic commission, the prophets, the priests, the kings, the sages, the temple, the sacrifices, the land, the Law, the promises, and the entire story of Israel), and the Resurrection and the Life.” (307) I just wish they had done a better job of presenting the evidence for their conclusion.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
This book was a very difficult read for me. It was very deep and somewhat difficult to understand at some points. However, with that being said, it is a book that I believe a true student of the Bible needs to read. The ideas and fact presented together in this book are both inspiring and challenging. Taking the life of Jesus and creating a more historical-style documentary of it is a great idea and Viola and Sweet do an excellent job of making this feel like more than just a biography. The concept of "theography" is creative and vital to understanding this book. Jesus was not a common individual that had His story told to the masses, instead He is the reigning Son of God and this book celebrates that fact. The only complaint that I would log concerning this book is its length and depth. It is hard to read a long book for some people, but certainly when it is so heavy throughout. A condensed version would be incredible.
Jesus: A Theography is one of four books I am reading this fall on the life of Jesus. Each of them serves as more conservative response to the question of the “historical jesus” raised over the last few years and most often answered by the more liberal church.
Sweet has taken a very thorough approach that starts with the underlying truth that Jesus is eternal - he was present at creation (see Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2). Sweet begins discussing the relationship of Jesus and the Godhead prior to the creation of the world and Jesus’ role in that creation.
From there, the book explores the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He begins the discussion of the resurrection by noting that
The great dividing line in history, ‘The moment when Before turned into After’ … is the BR/AR line of demarcation: Before Resurrection, After Resurrection. Resurrection is the theological singularity of all singularities, ushering in new realities that change everything.
Sweet and Viola take the long view on the life of Christ - it neither started nor ended with Jesus’ life on earth. They life and death are milestones, but they are not the beginning or ending of His ministry. Though occasionally hard to read, the book presents a well integrated view of Jesus - borrowing from both the “First” Testament (i.e. the Old Testament) and the “Second” Testament (i.e. the New Testament). The authors use these alternate terms because they realize that all the scriptures point to Jesus. Because Jesus is eternal, “Old” or “New” does not apply to Him.
The book is soundly rooted in Scripture as the authors examine Jesus’ life. At times it was difficult to read, but it was valuable spending the time reading the book. Jesus is not some weak man whose life ended on a cross. But there is a strength in Him that reaches across time - beginning before Creation and continuing after the End of the World.
The final chapter begins with a quote from Philippians 1:5, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”. It is this attitude that Sweet and Viola have spent the book introducing to us. As the reader moves through the book, he or she will become increasingly appreciative of who Jesus was and how He challenged his world and ours. The book closes with a reminder of the many roles that Jesus played:
To the architect. He is the chief cornerstone. (i Peter 2:6)
To the bride, He is the bridegroom. (Matt. 25:1)
To the carpenter. He is the door. (John 10:9)
To the engineer. He is the new and living way. (Heb. 10:20)
To the farmer. He is the Lord of the harvest. (Matt. 9:38)
To the horticulturist. He is the true vine. (John 15:1)
To the jurist, He is the righteous judge. (2 Tim. 4:8)
To the lawyer, He is the advocate. (1 John 2:1)
To the philanthropist, He is the unspeakable gift. (2 Cor. 9:15)
To the philosopher. He is the wisdom of God. (2 Cor. 1:24)
To the preacher. He is the Word of God. (Rev. 19:13)
To the soldier. He is the captain of his salvation. (Neb. 2:10)
To the statesman. He is the desire of the nations. (Hag. 2:7)
To the sinner. He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) —HENRIETTA MEARS (1890-1963)
And that is the picture that is painted of Jesus by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola in Jesus: A Theography. ______________ This review is based on a free electronic copy of this book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
Would you like a juicy biography of Jesus Christ? How about one that brought the entire sweep of the Bible to bear on the subject? Then, you have what you are looking forward to in “Jesus: A Theography” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola and recently published by Thomas Nelson.
Unlike other volumes on the life of Christ, the authors here take us back to eternity past. They vividly paint the scene in Heaven as Jesus leaves to come to Earth for us too. You probably won’t find that between the covers of others books on your shelves.
When the authors discussed Christ in both macro and micro version, they were providing great insights. Throughout the book they met a real need in giving a larger view. That is where many such volumes fail. They are able to wade through a sea of details to pull out the key ones that fill the canvass of the composite picture of God’s Revelation. Remember, it is the synthesized view that most leads to understanding.
You also had to love how they unlocked Jesus from some of the ridiculous stereotypes that have been around at least as long as Hollywood has been making movies about Him. They made Him so alive. You see Him as He surely was–always without sin yet righteously angry, laughing, talking, loving, even being funny. They showed Him with emotion–properly controlled of course–but with emotion nonetheless.
You might not agree with every conclusion they make but His death, burial, and resurrection is given its rightful place and they have a strong Christology. To make it all even better they can both turn a phrase and separate the important from the not so important. I never heard of a theography before this book, but am now convinced that it is exactly what we need.
They make it clear that Christianity is Christ. This book is important and flat-out good. I highly recommend it!
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .
Jesus a Theography is the story of God from both the Old and New Testaments, focusing on His role as the Christ. The authors discuss the appearances and shadows of Jesus in Old Testament people, places, structures and events. They show that he existed before time and fulfills God’s purposes for all earth and humanity.
The authors prove that the entire Bible is about Jesus. By always studying all the Scriptures to see Jesus we understand who God truly is. Only by studying the Scriptures in this way will we fully know our place in His plans for the earth and for His people.
Sweet and Viola have written a book to read, reread and treasure all of one’s life. Readers will compare data from Jesus, A Theograpy to our entire Bible. Don’t be put off by the thickness of this study of Jesus’ life. The writing is clear and understandable, although intellectually documented.
Jesus a Theography is written for lay readers to profit from and grow in understanding our life with God.
Most books written about Jesus are predominately focused on His life as it is shown in the New Testament. They also seem to zero in on the four Gospels. As if everything we could ever hope to know, or need to know about the God-man Jesus Christ is contained in those 4 short books.
A study of any Old Testament book teaches us about God and His relationship with mankind, predominately the children of Israel, but also His dealings with other nations. We see His justice as He pronounces judgement on all nations. We see His compassion and love as He saves His people from peril.
But we don’t hear much about Jesus in the Old Testament. Maybe it’s just me, but I grew up thinking God was scary and Jesus was sweetness and light. God was mean and just, while Jesus was full of love, grace and kindness. Don’t get me wrong, I knew Jesus was God. I wasn’t a polytheist. I knew there was only one God, and I knew God didn’t change, but there seemed to be such a break between the God we read about in the Old Testament and the God (Jesus) we read about in the New Testament.
I wonder why this is? Why do we tend to focus our attention on the New Testament when teaching, reading, learning about the life of Jesus and ignore the Old Testament? Jesus said, “The Scriptures point to Me…” (John 5:39) Do we even know how?
Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have undertaken to write a book, a Theography on the life of Jesus as seen in all of Scripture. If all Scripture points to Him, then He has to be in all Scripture.
The book is simply titled, “Jesus, a Theography” and it is not a book you want to read fast. It will challenge some of your thought processes, some of your beliefs. You will want to wrestle with some of the thoughts presented. You will definitely need plenty of time to think and pray.
You will be surprised at times; and will think, “I never realized that!”
“The twenty-seven books of the New Testament are largely a commentary on the Old Testament, and each part of the Bible is a signpost to Jesus. Once this is properly understood, everything changes, including our own identities. In this magisterial work you will discover a Jesus who is larger, more glorious, and more challenging than most of us have ever imagined.”
This book would be perfect for personal study, or done in a group. You will be challenged. You will exclaim, “WOW!! My God is huge!”
Jesus: A Theography is the new book from Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. Sweet and Viola are the Starsky and Hutch of theological literature. when they write a book together, or on their own for that matter, it's a must read.
books written about Jesus usually do one of two things: 1. investigate the historical Jesus/ignore Scripture, or 2. focus on Scripture and give little attention to the historical piece. Jesus: A Theography does both. it's a Biblically based, theological biography.
this book gets at the big picture, the grand narrative, of Scripture. Jesus' story doesn't simply begin at Christmas. Jesus' story is told from Genesis to Revelation; and Sweet and Viola tell and comment on this story beautifully.
"The Scriptures point to me!" Jesus says in John 5. this book is formed and built and this idea... that the Scriptures, not just the New Testament, points to Jesus and tells Jesus' story.
Jesus is a new classic for the Church. it's well written, insightful, and a delight to read. it would make for great reading/conversation for small groups or in conjunction with Bible study. going through it as a sermon series with the Biblical texts would be interesting. it's also a marvelous book for reading and reflection.
Jesus: A Theography is a must read for those who care about Jesus.