Fri 27 Feb 2009
It took me awhile to get through All About Jesus, more because of my schedule than because the book is bad. Actually it is a good synthesis of the known story of Jesus. It’s subtitle says “The Single Story from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Taking all four of the Gospel books and compiling it into one seamless story-line isn’t an easy task. The compiler, Roger Quy, did an excellent job of sticking to the texts. He used the New International Readers Version which I had never heard of as his primary text. The NIrV has this to say about itself:
The NIrV was designed to make the Bible clear and understandable to early readers and can be read by a typical fourth grader. For this reason, it is also of value to the millions for whom English is a second language. It intends to be distinguished by five fundamental characteristics—readability, understandability, compatibility with the NIV, reliability, and trustworthiness. It serves as a natural stepping-stone to the NIV when the time is right.
This book doesn’t read like a novel. I kept wanting it to be like a John Grisham or Tom Clancy novel with smooth transitions and story-line. But I realized that the only way that would be possible is by adding to the story which would take away from the compiler’s primary goal of capturing the authentic story of Christ’s life. I’m not sure if a different version would have improved this area or not. The Message paraphrase could potentially make for an easier to follow story but as a paraphrase would lose some of the “inerrancy” of the story. I’m by no means a Biblical scholar so I assume their time line is accurate.
A few times the story repeated itself – in keeping with the original text they sacrificed smoothness to keep sections together. For example on page 200 and 201 it says this:
Herod and his soldiers laughed at him and made fun of him. They dressed him in a beautiful robe. Then they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends. Before this time they had been enemies…. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. The soldiers twisted thorns together to make a crown. They put it on Jesus’ head. Then they put a purple robe on him. They went up to him again and again. They kept saying, “We honor you, king of the Jews!” And they hit him in the face.
And again on page 205:
The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the palace, which was called the Praetorium. All the rest of the soldiers gathered around him. They took of his clothes and put a purple robe on him. Then they twisted thorns together to make a crown. They placed it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they fell on their knees in front of him and made fun of him. “We honor you, king of the Jews!” They said. They spit on him. They hit him on the head with a stick again and again. They fell on their knees and pretended to honor him.
This is actually the only book of this type that I’ve read so I appreciate their effort. At the end of the introduction is this statement of purpose:
This book is meant for those who would like to find out more about Jesus. It is ideal for someone who is new to the Bible. Readers who already know the Bible may find that it helps them learn more about the life and message of Jesus.
I’m not completely sure if he accomplished this goal or not. Obviously there were new things that jumped out at me this time, but that is the same with every Biblical story and even great novels. I think if I was wanting to introduce someone to Jesus I would probably recommend reading the Book of Mark in The Message paraphrase before recommending this book.