Rediscovering Jesus by David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards (IVP)
Too often, when some Christians speak of “my Jesus,” it’s more than a term of endearment. Often, it means “my personal Jesus,” based on Hollywood images, fashioned according to a partial reading of selected Scriptures or—worst of all—made in our own image. David Capes, professor of New Testament at Houston Baptist University, and his collaborators challenge readers to consider two key questions Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”
In the first section of Rediscovering Jesus, the authors look at the portrait of Jesus painted in each of the four Gospels, the Apostle Paul’s letters, the general epistles, the book of Hebrews and the book of Revelation. Each chapter ends with an examination of how our perception of Jesus would be different if this were the only record we had of him. For example, if Mark’s Gospel were our only way of knowing about Jesus, we would not celebrate Christmas because we would know nothing about the Nativity. We would be unfamiliar with the Golden Rule, the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, but we would focus more on the kingdom of God. And Christian worship services likely would feature more exorcisms and fewer sermons.
The second half of Rediscovering Jesus explores how nonbiblical sources frequently influence perceptions about Jesus. The authors examine the Gnostic Jesus, the Muslim Jesus, the “Historical Jesus” of rationalism, the Mormon Jesus and the Cinematic Jesus. The book’s most provocative chapter looks at the American Jesus—a Jesus misappropriated by politicians on both the left and the right; a Jesus who reflects American culture in its many facets; and a Jesus different segments of American society view as Prince Charming, Ultimate Fighting Jesus, Jesus the CEO or Jesus the Superman.
Each chapter ends with discussion questions and a list of suggested places to “read more about it.” While written primarily as a college textbook, Rediscovering Jesus is an accessible and engaging—often witty—book suited well to individual or group study by laypeople. Read it, and gain a fresh perspective on the origins of your own mental pictures of Jesus.
Ken Camp, managing editor