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The Bible Jesus Read Leader's Guide Paperback – June 24, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Leader's Guide ed. edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310241847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310241843
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,445,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In The Bible Jesus Read, the main focus of the book is to attempt to show the great value of books such as Job, Deuteronomy, Ecclesiastes, the prophets, etc., books which are largely overlooked or misunderstood by modern Christians. Yancey tries to establish the importance of each book by explaining that Jesus Himself spent time in these books. Yancey also explains what he believes are the best mindsets to understand the purpose of the Psalms, Proverbs, and other previously mentioned books, so that we can better understand our God. For example, I found his summary of the Psalms particularly helpful as he explained how the Psalms were not purposed for doctrines and decrees, but they reveal the joy, anguish, worry in human authors who were pursuing the heart of God. (He does not deny that they are God-inspired works; some Psalms are prophetic whether the authors realized it at the time or not) I did find some minor faults in Yancey's book: he lightly ridiculed unnammed ministers who misunderstood a prophecy of the ten horns in the book of Daniel, and made it sound as though we shouldn't take Bible prophecy seriously, because we can't truly understand it. I don't think he found the true worth of the prophecies of the Bible. He also presented a very "Prince of Egypty-type Moses", with a speculative and somewhat inaccurate scenario. If you overlook some of these occasional wishy-washy accounts, and focus on understanding the purpose of the Old Testament books, you can come away from "The Bible Jesus Read" with new insight and interest in books that you previously found complicated, boring, or confusing. I give thanks for a new outlook on the Psalms, Job, and Ecclesiastes.
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Format: Hardcover
The title is somewhat misleading. Rather than a comprehensive analysis of "The Bible Jesus Read", that is, the Old Testament, the author deals with certain books of the Old Testament. And if you know Philip Yancey from his previous writings, you know that he will concentrate on the more difficult, disturbing, seemingly negative parts of the Old Testament. To me, that is one of Yancey's strengths. He takes an unflinching look at reality, not an idealized vision of what everyone thinks life in God is supposed to be. And here is what life with God really looked like to people such as Job and the teacher from Ecclesiastes. In the chapter on Psalms, he deals especially with the imprecatory, or "cursing" Psalms, which seem difficult to reconcile with later Christian teachings on forgiveness and loving one's enemies. The chapter on the prophets is helpful concerning how to generally interpret them. In the final chapter, Yancey points out how the increasing absence of God (according to the Hebrew arrangement of the canon) is designed to increase the spiritual hunger that anticipates the coming of the Messiah.
Previous reviewers have indicated that, in their opinion, this is not one of Yancey's stronger books. I believe, with the exception of one chapter, this book is as strong and interesting as any book he has written. Unfortunately, I had to rate it short of 5 stars because of the chapter on Deuteronomy. Portions of that chapter were taken from the companion booklet to the animated feature "The Prince of Egypt", and thus follows the storyline of the film and not the actual biblical storyline. The whole tone of that chapter just does not fit in a book such as this. If I wanted to read the flowery, overblown recounting of the storyline of the movie, I would have purchased it separately. If you get past the dross, there are valuable insights to be gleaned, but the dross shouldn't be there in the first place. Otherwise, this is an exemplary book.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read many of Yancey's books, and "The Bible Jesus Read" may be my favorite. Yancey's ability to combine hard thinking, with practical implication, has never been better. He is not afraid to ask the hard questions about life, pain, suffering, the Bible, and God. As I read this book I felt that I had a soul-mate in my journey. Thanks Yancey for summarizing issues in such a way that I can ask deep questions, and still come away deeper in my faith. I will recommend this book highly, and return to it often myself.
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Format: Hardcover
I have enjoyed reading Philip Yancey's books over the years, but this is not one of his better ones. Like others, I feel the chapter on Deuteronomy is melodramatic and erroneous (not to mention boring.) Although the title is "The Bible Jesus Read", this is not a scholarly attempt to discuss the Hebrew or Greek scriptures available to Jesus during his lifetime, and only selected sections of the Old Testament are examined. On the other hand, the chapters on the Psalms, Ecclesiastes and the Prophets are sparkling with helpful literary allusions, exegesis, and insight. They achieve the author's goal of making the Old Testament a little easier to understand for the general reader. If you haven't read a Philip Yancey book before, try one of the others first, such as The Gift of Pain, Where is God When it Hurts, or Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. If you have wanted to do more reading of the scriptures (either for literary or spiritual purposes) and need some helpful guides, this book - along with the NIV Student Bible compiled by Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford - will be a good companion.
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