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Bible Jesus Read, The [Paperback]

Philip Yancey
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Philip Yancey, editor at large and columnist for Christianity Today, follows up his back-to-back bestselling books, What's So Amazing About Grace and The Jesus I Never Knew, with The Bible Jesus Read, an exploration of the significance of the Old Testament to today's Christian.

Given previous book titles--Where Is God When It Hurts, Disappointment with God, and The Gift of Pain--one might jokingly suggest that in the Old Testament Yancey has found his true home. He acknowledges that in studying key sections of the Hebrew Bible (he concentrates on Job, Deuteronomy, The Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and the Prophets) he found himself confronted by the core questions that haunt his Christian faith: Do I matter? Does God care? Why doesn't God act? As always, Yancey explores these central human questions with a style that is marked by directness, humor, and honesty. He writes not as theologian or mystic but as a questioning seeker. Rather than providing simple answers--he in fact says that "by no means did Jesus resolve the problem of pain"--he instead affirms the words of Thomas Merton, which he quotes in his Introduction: "There is ... nothing comfortable about the Bible--until we manage to get so used to it that we make it comfortable for ourselves."

Even as he finds the Old Testament a "companion for my pilgrimage," so is Yancey a companion for his readers, precisely through his willingness to ask --and his courage not to answer--all the hard questions. --Doug Thorpe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Yancey is an astute author who challenges Christians' assumptions without alienating them. In The Bible Jesus Read, Yancey encourages readers to consider how Hebrew ScriptureAwhat Christians call the Old TestamentAis relevant to their own lives. His premise is that although many Christians tacitly consider the New Testament more important than the Old, the New Testament was written after Jesus' earthly ministry, making the Old Testament "the Bible Jesus read." Hebrew Scripture was the greatest influence on the mind and spirit of the founder of Christianity, a fact that, in the author's estimation, obligates Christians to know it well. Yancey acknowledges the difficulty of transcending the cultural gulf between modern civilization and ancient Israel and seeks to bridge the gap by highlighting sections of the Old Testament that he initially found hard to appreciate. The writings of the Prophets were particularly obscure to Yancey because of the nonnarrative style and assumption of a warrior culture. However, he gradually discovered the passages' deep relevance to, and resonance with, his own experience. He came to love these Old Testament books when he realized that many of their concerns, such as justice for the poor and faithfulness to God, are timeless. Yancey's lucid style and honest handling of difficult ideas ensure that readers who have enjoyed his earlier books will not be disappointed in this one. (Sept.) FYI: Zondervan will simultaneously release an audio version, read by the author (two cassettes, 2 hrs., $16.99 ISBN 0-310-22982-0).
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Yancey follows The Jesus I Never Knew (1995) and What's So Amazing about Grace? (1997) with a more modest and personal book on the Old Testament, which he concedes is a hard sell to many Christians. After all, the Hebrew Scriptures constitute a dauntingly large book, seem contradictory and cranky, and are really addressed to Jews, so why read them? Rather than dunning us with the obvious, if ahistorical, "They are the Bible Jesus read," Yancey discusses five Old Testament writings and why they are his favorites. He loves Job for its affirmation of faith, Deuteronomy for its portrayal of spiritual heroism in the figure of the aged Moses, the Psalms for their presentation of the intimacy of God's relationship with humanity, Ecclesiastes for its realism about life, and the prophetic books for the hope in God's providence that they inculcate. As usual for Yancey, the discussion draws tellingly from literature and experience as well as the biblical text to make its points. All in all, a gracious, appealing window on the Old Testament. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Philip Yancey has a way of confronting our most cherished--but misguided--notions about the Christian life. In his newest book, Yancey challenges the perception that the New Testament is more important than the Old, that the Hebrew Scriptures aren't worth the time they take to read and understand them. Writing as always with keen insight into the human condition and God's provision for it, Yancey debunks this theory once and for all. Yes, he agrees, the Old Testament can be baffling, boring, and even offensive to the modern reader. But as he personally discovered, the Old Testament is full of rewards for the one who embraces its riches. With his candid, signature style, Yancey unfolds his interactions with the Old Testament from the perspective of his own deeply personal journey. From Moses, the amazing prince of Egypt, to the psalmists' turbulent emotions and the prophets' oddball rantings, Yancey paints a picture of Israel's God--and ours--that fills in the blanks of a solely New Testament vision of the Almighty. As he reconnects for us the strong, sinuous chords that bind Old and New Testaments, Yancey reclaims the Reformers' deep sense of unity between the two. Most important, he says, reading the Scriptures that Jesus so revered gives believers a profound new understanding of Christ, the Cornerstone of the new covenant. The more we comprehend the Old Testament, Yancey writes, the more we comprehend Jesus. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

Philip Yancey serves as editor at Large for Christianity Today magazine. His books The Jesus I Never Knew and What's So Amazing About Grace? were national best-sellers appearing on both the Publisher's Weekly and ECPA lists. Both books also won the Gold Medallion Book of the Year Award. Yancey has written eight Gold Medallion Award-winning books, including Where Is God When it Hurts? Disappointment with God, and The Gift of Pain. He co-edited The Student Bible, which also won a Gold Medallion Award. He and his wife live in Colorado. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Philip Yancey has a way of confronting our most cherished but misguided notions about faith. In The Bible Jesus Read, he challenges the perception that the New Testament is all that matters and the Old Testament isn’t worth taking the time to read and understand.

Yancey admits that, like many Christians, he usually avoided the Old Testament. After all, why bother with writings that can be so baffling, boring, even offensive to the modern mind?

But a surprising discovery awaited Yancey when he began to explore how the Old Testament related to his life today. Those seemingly irrelevant Hebrew Scriptures took on a startling immediacy, portraying a passionate relationship between God and people against the broad backdrop of human experience. Like nothing else, the Old Testament depicts the cries, the complaints, the deep, insistent questionings of the heart, the stuff of life we all must contend with.

With his candid, signature style, Yancey interacts with the Old Testament from the perspective of his own deeply personal journey. From Moses, the amazing prince of Egypt, to the psalmists’ turbulent emotions and the prophets’ oddball rantings, Yancey paints a picture of Israel’s God--and ours--that fills in the blanks of a solely New Testament vision of the Almighty.

Probing some carefully selected Old Testament books--Job, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and the Prophets--Yancey reveals how the Old Testament deals in astonishing depth and detail with the issues that trouble us most. The Old Testament in fact tackles what the New Testament often only skirts. But that shouldn’t surprise us. It is, after all, the Bible Jesus read.

The Bible Jesus Read will give you abundant new insights into the heart of God the Father. And as you read with a fresh eye the prayers, poems, songs, and bedtime stories that Jesus so revered, you will gain a profound new understanding of Christ. "The more we comprehend the Old Testament," Yancey writes, "the more we comprehend Jesus."

About the Author

Philip Yancey serves as editor-at-large for Christianity Today magazine. He has written thirteen Gold Medallion Award-winning books and won two ECPA Book of the Year awards for What's So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew. Four of his books have sold over one million copies. Yancey lives with his wife in Colorado.  Website: www.philipyancey.com

 

 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

My brother, who attended a Bible college during a very smart-alecky phase in his life, enjoyed shocking groups of believers by sharing his life verse. After listening to others quote pious phrases from Proverbs, Romans, or Ephesians, he would stand and with a perfectly straight face recite very rapidly this verse from 1 Chronicles 26:18: At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar. Other students would screw up their faces and wonder what deep spiritual insight they were missing. Perhaps he was speaking another language?
If my brother felt in a particularly ornery mood, he would quote an alternative verse: ;Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones; (Ps. 137:9).
In his sassiness my brother had, quite ingeniously, identified the two main barriers to reading the Old Testament: It doesn't always make sense, and what sense it does make can offend modern ears. Why, we wonder, does the Bible spend so much time on temples, priest, and rules governing sacrifices that no longer exist? Why does God care about defective sacrificial animals-limping lambs and bent-winged doves-or about a young goat cooked in its mother's milk, and yet apparently not about people like the Amalekites? Jesus we identify with, the apostle Paul we think we understand; but what of those barbaric people living in the Middle East several thousand years ago?
Because of this, most people simply avoid the Old Testament entirely, leaving three-fourths of the Bible unread, while others extract nuggets of truth from it like plucking diamonds from a vein of coal. That technique can backfire, however-remember my brother's life verses.
Like reading Shakespeare
For a long time I also avoided the Old Testament. Only gradually, once I started reading it in earnest, did I learn to love it. I confess that I began with ignoble motives: I read the Old Testament because I was paid to, as part of my editorial assignment to produce the Student Bible. But long after the Student Bible had been published and stocked on bookstore shelves, I kept returning to the Old Testament on my own. My reading experience parallels one I had with William Shakespeare. In a moment of idealism, I made a New Year's resolution to real all 38 of Shakespeare's plays in one year. To my surprise, fulfilling the task (though I had to extend the deadline) seemed far more like entertainment than work. At first I would have to look up archaic words, concentrate on keeping the characters straight, and adjust to the sheer awkwardness of reading plays. I found, though, that as I kept at it and got accustomed to the rhythm and language, these distractions faded and I felt myself being swept up in the play. Without fail I looked forward to the designated Shakespeare evenings.
I expected to learn about Shakespeare's world and the people who inhabited it. I found, though, that Shakespeare mainly taught me about my world. He endures as a playwright because of his genius in probing the hidden recesses of humanity, a skill that gives him appeal in places as varied as the United States, Japan, and Peru several centuries after his death. We find ourselves in his plays.
I went through precisely that same process in encountering the Old Testament. From initial resistance, I moved to a reluctant sense that I ought to read the neglected three-quarters of the Bible. As I worked past some of the barriers, I came to feel a need to read, because of what it was teaching me. Eventually, I found myself wanting to read it. Those 39 books satisfied in me some hunger that nothing else had-not even, I must say, the New Testament. They taught me about life with God: not how it is supposed to work, but how it actually does work.
The rewards offered by the Old Testament do not come easily, I admit. Learning to feel at home in its pages will take time and effort. All achievements-climbing mountains, mastering the guitar, competing in a triathlon-require a similar process of hard work; we persevere because we believe rewards will come.
A reader of the Old Testament confronts obstacles not present in other books. For example, I was put off at first by its disarray. The Old Testament does not read like a cohesive novel; it consists of poetry, history, sermons, and short stories written by various authors and mixed up together. In its time, of course, no one conceived the Old Testament as one book. Each book had its own scroll, and a long book like Jeremiah would occupy a scroll 20 or 30 feet long. A Jewish person entering a synagogue would see stacks of scrolls, not a single book, and, aware of their differences, would choose accordingly.
Yet I find it remarkable that this diverse collection of manuscripts written over a period of a millennium by several dozen authors possesses as much unity as it does. To appreciate this feat, imagine a book begun 500 years before Columbus and just now completed. The Bible's striking unity is one strong sign that God directed its composition. By using a variety of authors and cultural situations, God developed a complete record of what he wants us to know; amazingly, the parts fit together in such a way that a single story does emerge.
The more I persevered, the more passages I came to understand. And the more I understood, the more I found myself in those passages. Even in a culture as secular as the United States, bestsellers such as The Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore, and The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris, reveal a deep spiritual hunger. The Old Testament speaks to that hunger like no other book. It does not give us a lesson in theology, with abstract concepts neatly arranged in logical order. Quite the opposite: it gives an advanced course in Life with God, expressed in a style at once personal and passionate. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

My brother, who attended a Bible college during a very smart-alecky phase in his life, enjoyed shocking groups of believers by sharing his ;life verse.; After listening to others quote pious phrases from Proverbs, Romans, or Ephesians, he would stand and with a perfectly straight face recite very rapidly this verse from 1 Chronicles 26:18: ;At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.; Other students would screw up their faces and wonder what deep spiritual insight they were missing. Perhaps he was speaking another language? If my brother felt in a particularly ornery mood, he would quote an alternative verse: ;Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones; (Ps. 137:9). In his sassiness my brother had, quite ingeniously, identified the two main barriers to reading the Old Testament: It doesn't always make sense, and what sense it does make can offend modern ears. Why, we wonder, does the Bible spend so much time on temples, priest, and rules governing sacrifices that no longer exist? Why does God care about defective sacrificial animals-limping lambs and bent-winged doves-or about a young goat cooked in its mother's milk, and yet apparently not about people like the Amalekites? Jesus we identify with, the apostle Paul we think we understand; but what of those barbaric people living in the Middle East several thousand years ago? Because of this, most people simply avoid the Old Testament entirely, leaving three-fourths of the Bible unread, while others extract nuggets of truth from it like plucking diamonds from a vein of coal. That technique can backfire, however-remember my brother's life verses. Like reading Shakespeare For a long time I also avoided the Old Testament. Only gradually, once I started reading it in earnest, did I learn to love it. I confess that I began with ignoble motives: I read the Old Testament because I was paid to, as part of my editorial assignment to produce the Student Bible. But long after the Student Bible had been published and stocked on bookstore shelves, I kept returning to the Old Testament on my own. My reading experience parallels one I had with William Shakespeare. In a moment of idealism, I made a New Year's resolution to real all 38 of Shakespeare's plays in one year. To my surprise, fulfilling the task (though I had to extend the deadline) seemed far more like entertainment than work. At first I would have to look up archaic words, concentrate on keeping the characters straight, and adjust to the sheer awkwardness of reading plays. I found, though, that as I kept at it and got accustomed to the rhythm and language, these distractions faded and I felt myself being swept up in the play. Without fail I looked forward to the designated Shakespeare evenings. I expected to learn about Shakespeare's world and the people who inhabited it. I found, though, that Shakespeare mainly taught me about my world. He endures as a playwright because of his genius in probing the hidden recesses of humanity, a skill that gives him appeal in places as varied as the United States, Japan, and Peru several centuries after his death. We find ourselves in his plays. I went through precisely that same process in encountering the Old Testament. From initial resistance, I moved to a reluctant sense that I ought to read the neglected three-quarters of the Bible. As I worked past some of the barriers, I came to feel a need to read, because of what it was teaching me. Eventually, I found myself wanting to read it. Those 39 books satisfied in me some hunger that nothing else had-not even, I must say, the New Testament. They taught me about life with God: not how it is supposed to work, but how it actually does work. The rewards offered by the Old Testament do not come easily, I admit. Learning to feel at home in its pages will take time and effort. All achievements-climbing mountains, mastering the guitar, competing in a triathlon-require a similar process of hard work; we persevere because we believe rewards will come. A reader of the Old Testament confronts obstacles not present in other books. For example, I was put off at first by its disarray. The Old Testament does not read like a cohesive novel; it consists of poetry, history, sermons, and short stories written by various authors and mixed up together. In its time, of course, no one conceived the Old Testament as one book. Each book had its own scroll, and a long book like Jeremiah would occupy a scroll 20 or 30 feet long. A Jewish person entering a synagogue would see stacks of scrolls, not a single book, and, aware of their differences, would choose accordingly. Yet I find it remarkable that this diverse collection of manuscripts written over a period of a millennium by several dozen authors possesses as much unity as it does. To appreciate this feat, imagine a book begun 500 years before Columbus and just now completed. The Bible's striking unity is one strong sign that God directed its composition. By using a variety of authors and cultural situations, God developed a complete record of what he wants us to know; amazingly, the parts fit together in such a way that a single story does emerge. The more I persevered, the more passages I came to understand. And the more I understood, the more I found myself in those passages. Even in a culture as secular as the United States, bestsellers such as The Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore, and The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris, reveal a deep spiritual hunger. The Old Testament speaks to that hunger like no other book. It does not give us a lesson in theology, with abstract concepts neatly arranged in logical order. Quite the opposite: it gives an advanced course in Life with God, expressed in a style at once personal and passionate. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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