48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Humane and Engaging!,
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This review is from: Jesus: The Human Face of God (Icons) (Hardcover)
I purchased this book with an eye towards evaluating it as a potential gift for the religiously-inclined in my family. I was already familiar with Parini’s high reputation as a biographer, novelist, and poet. After reading Jesus: The Human Face of God, I am going to purchase a few copies for those folks.
Here’s why. First, while this volume may be slim, it is bursting with insight and good sense. It is less a biography of Jesus than a sort of “walk with Jesus,” through his ideals, presence, and controversies. Thanks to Parini’s zestful writing, the controversial issues are presented in a manner that is enticing to theological neophytes yet also conversant with the deeper concerns involved. As we go along this journey, from the context of the times and Jesus’s birth to the crucifixion and resurrection, ending with a smart chapter on “The Afterlife of Jesus,” we learn much in terms of facts but more feel that our self-knowledge, our own spiritual concerns are being gently poked and prodded. There is a humanity in Parini’s Jesus that speaks loudly. For Parini (whose own wide-ranging and unusual religious upbringing is fascinating) is proud to be a follower of Jesus. But to follow is insufficient for Parini, for Jesus is about love, specifically, “to love one another as I have loved you.” No easy matter but an ideal to strive for, as Parini makes clear.
Readers will be especially impressed with Parini’s discussion of the Beatitudes and the Antitheses, where he places various comments in historical and religious context. He is invariably fair-minded on controversial issues – ranging from the Virgin birth to the raising of Lazarus. He wears his deep learning lightly but confidently. This helps the book to move along at a graceful pace. To drive home points, Parini sometimes summons poets and other thinkers for an apt comment. I particularly enjoyed how he flavored a discussion of forgiveness with the fictional musings of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye.
If you are looking to learn more about Jesus, the mythology around him, and his deeper meaning for the past and present, then I am confident that you will be perfectly served by this volume.
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Initial post: Dec 12, 2013 10:41:48 AM PST
Robin Friedman says:
Parini is also a Melville scholar, as you mention in "Dive Deeper". I have been watching the DVD of Heggie's opera "Moby-Dick" and viewing John Huston's 1956 film for the first time. I enjoyed revisiting your book for its insights on Melville and the American imagination. Regards.
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