Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Review: The Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Jesus

The question “Who is Jesus” is of paramount importance. While certainly the Bible is the first and best source of information about the Lord, many Christians find that they need additional resources to understand biblical truths particularly when they are beginning to study the Bible. In addition, there are those who do not know Christ as Savior who find the Bible to be intimidating. I have read a book titled “The Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Jesus” that I believe would be a fantastic resource for anyone who wishes to have a more solid grasp of who Jesus is and what impact His life, death, and resurrection has had and is having in the world we live in. The book was written by Dr. Jeremy Royal Howard who obtained a doctorate in Christian Apologetics and Worldview Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jeremy lives with his family near Nashville, Tennessee and works as a editor of Bibles and Reference books for Broadman and Holman Publishing.

First of all, the book is attractively formatted. The text is interspersed with pictures, diagrams, and charts which highlight key concepts from the book. They tend to reinforce what the author has to say rather than detracting or distracting from it. As noted on, the Holman QuickSource Guide series is intended to be “visually-driven, yet content rich”. I would certainly agree with that assessment.

Furthermore, the author is a skilled writer who communicates biblical concepts clearly. The book is easy to read but is anything but “light”. Jeremy gives a solid overview of the person, nature, and work of Christ covering His Old Testament background, His life on earth, the cross, His teaching, and His followers. The book does not follow the current trend of some Christian publications in writing to the lowest common denominator but rather communicates the truth of who Jesus is effectively in a manner most people will be able to understand. This becomes particularly evident as the author tackles such tough topics as the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts and the social/religious/political climate of the period between the Old and New Testaments.

However, these are not the only tough topics the author tackles. His discusses issues such as the writing of the Pentateuch by Moses. Now, if you freak out easily (cue disco music---“Ahhh, freak out”) you could possibly get a little spooked reading the section dealing with this topic. However, because of the easy to understand manner in which the writer explains the issues, most readers will find that they are given information they can use to evaluate the validity of the argument he proposes and come to their own conclusions while being challenged to think through issues they may have never considered. Further, the reader is encouraged with information they can use to defend their faith or for that matter place their faith in Christ if they are not yet a Christian. In fact, I would recommend this book not only as a resource for Christians beginning in their faith or a mature Christian wanting to get a solid overview of biblical truth related to Jesus (perhaps as a resource to teach a bible study), but also for folks who don’t know Christ as their Savior who are looking for answers as to who Jesus is. In fact, I can see this being something a Christian might buy for someone they know to introduce that person to Jesus.

Finally, the book doesn’t just give a great overview about Jesus’ life and ministry, but in fact provides information a Christian could use in defending their faith by answering key questions such as possible discrepancies in biblical accounts to the transmission and translation of the New Testament text, the primary source of information we have about Jesus. Further, the author concludes with a modern day parable placing a person at a crossroads of having to choose how to respond to the truth of what the Bible reveals about Jesus. In the end, that is the most important decision a person will ever make.

In summary, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to Christians of all levels of maturity as well as non-Christians seeking information about Christ. I believe the reader will be encouraged and challenged with this fabulous book.

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