Leith Anderson, a well-respected Minnesota pastor, has undertaken to write a readable profile of the life of Christ, entitled Jesus: An Intimate Portrait of the Man, His Land, and His People. This particular book interested me in that I have been preaching for a couple of years now chronologically through the life of Christ, and so it seemed that plumbing insights from this evangelical leader might prove helpful in my sermon research.
Unfortunately, such has not been the case. That fact, however, may well say more about me than it does about the book—but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Jesus is readable and thorough in its treatment of Christ’s life, to be sure. Anderson writes in an agreeable, easy style; this is no weighty tome, to be sure. In fact, this is the first negative assessment that I made of the book: it borders on the “lightweight”, and it’s lack of compelling, new insights into Christ’s person and work made this, for me, a very difficult read.
That said, I am very willing to countenance the likelihood that it was not me for whom Anderson wrote. This book, in the hands of the new/young believer, the person relatively unacquainted with the basic story-line of the life of Christ, could be a valuable asset. Anderson presents, in straightforward manner and with numerous bullet-pointed explanation points, the life of Jesus from pre-birth to ascension. I found myself thinking of people in my church whom this book could benefit, and there is no shortage of names on that list. In fact, though there is no study guide available in this printing, using the book as a small-group study of the life of Christ, particularly led by one armed with the ability to make good application (almost totally lacking in the book itself), could have real value.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that Anderson begins and ends chapters arbitrarily, but there is no title to any of his chapters, and thus no index which might be helpful in using this book as reference material, unless one had another working timeline of the life of Christ (and I grant that it’s not always possible to construct such with ironclad accuracy, and that good evangelical scholars might arrange their chronologies differently).
Still, it was not for me anything resembing a “page-turner”. I read to be challenged, to discover new insights, to see the world from a frame of reference other than my own. For this reason, I am the kind of person who is more likely to read a
liberal editorial than a conservative one in USA Today. On this count, Anderson’s book was a disappointment, as it did not hold my interest, frankly.
Anderson’s account is faithful to Scripture; it could profit those without a good working knowledge of the life of Christ. For me, though, that’s not enough to give it more than 2-and-a-half UVa helmets (out of five).
I did not receive any compensation for this review other than a copy of the book provided by Mind & Media through a generous gift by Bethany House Publishers.