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Jesus: A Biography, from a Believer Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 4, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Journalist-historian Johnson’s deliberately noncontentious account of history’s most famous man is unapologetically, uncarpingly based on the New Testament. Nearly no other sources are mentioned, and the short further reading list admits nothing by any Jesus Seminar scholar or other revisionist. Since the book is longer than all four Gospels put together, it is obviously more than a conflationary synopsis. Johnson weighs what little is said about Jesus’ childhood and youth and why no more is said; discusses Jesus’ personal affect; notes the qualities of his teaching, especially in the parables; emphasizes his reservations about the miracles he performs; and analyzes how he differentially addressed men, women, children, and the aged. Johnson outlines the “new ten commandments” that Jesus introduced in deed as well as word and with which he intended to prepare his followers not to change the world but to enter the kingdom of God. Lastly, Johnson inspects the Passion, the Resurrection, and their aftermath to Pentecost with intelligent faith. An all-but-unalloyed (the Catholic Johnson favors women in priesthood) gift to all believing Christians. --Ray Olson

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (March 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021598
  • ASIN: B00403NFZU
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #945,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J. Brian Watkins VINE VOICE on March 21, 2010
Format: Roughcut
Mr. Johnson has brought his formidable talents to bear in this supremely satisfying life of Christ; a timely response to the latest publishing fad, being book-length diatribes by the supposedly learned and wise who denigrate religion and by not-so-subtle insinuation the Savior Jesus Christ. As religious education wanes, Jesus Christ has become to many not an object of veneration or daily study, but a caricature or figurehead--it is an unfortunate reality that too many believers fail to study their own beliefs and in this lack of appreciation they fall prey to those who mock religion. The triumph of Mr. Johnson's achievement is that he portrays the Christ of the Scriptures and is not interested in theological arguments so much as building faith and belief. In speaking of the Savior, believers of all types need more of this kind of approach; the Christ was worthy of emulation in every respect.

Mr. Johnson argues that Christ lived a comfortable and educated life as a God with men and loved it--His was a real life. Jesus loved people, loved a good meal; He was supremely observant and compassionate, He missed nothing and saw everything. My favorite part of the book was Mr. Johnson's telling of the miracle at Cana; his portrayal of the relationship between Jesus and Jesus' mother was illuminating. The genius of the book is that it is not an explanation of why and how Jesus, at once the most intelligent and powerful being to ever walk the earth, allowed Himself to be made a sacrifice for mankind; rather, it is a biography, a description of what kind of Man He was according to the historical record. A deceptively difficult task that only a seasoned expert at the height of his powers could pull off as effortlessly as does Mr. Johnson.
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Format: Roughcut Verified Purchase
Johnson is a prolific history writer, with significant titles to his name. This short biography of Christ is a great read. It is well-written and fresh for the believer and approachable for the non-believer alike. It is not jammed full of Scripture references, like apologetics books or Bible study materials. It is not intended to be either of those things.

As a believer, I had to adjust my perspective while reading the first three chapters, mainly because I am accustomed to more analytical text with footnotes and cross-references when reading about Jesus or God's Word.

The subtitle is true to the text - this is a biography, and it paints a visual image of its subject. Johnson summarizes the era of Jesus' birth and life on earth with fresh insights on cultural practices and gives you a sense for the man behind the red letter verses in the Bible.

Johnson's economy of language hits the nail on the head. No fluff. No sense that the author has to jam one more thing in to prove his point. It reads like eloquent campfire storytelling, relating the author's recollections of his old friend, Jesus. "You should have seen the way Jesus addressed the leaders of his day...like nothing you can imagine. Calm, poised, one step ahead of the game. He was forever a paradox, loving the unlovable and turning conventional wisdom and rule-following on its ear." (my own paraphrase, not a direct quote from the text).

This may be the most winsome, read-it-in-a-day portrait of Jesus you will find, and may be the book about Jesus that intrigues the skeptic to want to learn more.
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Format: Roughcut
Overall, I really liked this book. It was an easy read and did a great job personifying Jesus. I was brought up Christian, and am practicing today. The first half of the book I'd say was 'nice', most of the stories recounted were those that you were taught in Sunday School. It was a pleasant read, but I didn't really learn anything. However I found the last two Chapters of Jesus' life very interesting, and is the reason I gave the book four stars. The last two chapters are about the Cruxification and the Resurrection. What I found most interesting wasn't exactly how Jesus was crucified, as we've all learned about that before, but the politics that were going on to allow for such an event and tragedy to happen. I always wondered why a crowd that was so excited to see Jesus on Palm Sunday could turn on him so in one week's time, and this book helped answer that. The last two chapters also help you understand the relationships Jesus had with his disciples and the women in his life. This book would also be great for non-Christians who want a basic understanding about a man who has a whole religion based on his teachings.
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Format: Paperback
This easy-to-read biography of Jesus, though not profound, is full of insights into Jesus and his teachings. It's an excellent text for the new Christians or for someone who has spend decades in the faith.
Johnson reminds us that, while many of Jesus' teaching have become maxims, that they were startling new in his day and provoked anger and disgust as well as approval.
He also notes how breathtakingly new was the concept of love as Jesus preached it. It had no limitations. Love of mankind did not exist in Jesus' day as a concept. The idea of loving all humanity did not occur to anyone - Greek or barbarian, Jew or Gentile. Everyone's compassion - love - was selective.
There are some flaws. Johnson said Jesus referred to all as children of God. He told one crowd they were children of the devil. Not everyone is a child of God. They can be but it's not automatic.
All in all, a very good book
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