As a practicing Christian, I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and I am very lucky that my church has it’s own book club to help me with this. In June, we read and discussedHow To Pray by Pete Greig. The Bible Jesus Read by the award-winning, contemporary Christian author, Philip Yancey.
In The Bible Jesus Read, Yancey challenges the perception that the New Testament is more important than the Old Testament, that the Hebrew Scriptures aren’t worth the time they take to read and understand them. I must admit to having had similar thoughts to this myself: the Old Testament is hard to understand, often rather depressing and the teachings of Jesus are more important, right? So this book seemed like it would be the perfect read for me and would help me start to love ALL of the Bible.
Straight away the title of this book struck me! Why had it never dawned on me that there was no New Testament in Jesus’ time, so the Bible as He knew it was just the Old Testament. It was this that he poured over and read aloud in the temple; it was this that He loved and taught from; and it was this that shaped His ministry and prophesied His coming! Without even cracking the pages open, this book had me looking at the Old Testament in a different way!
Then I started reading Yancey’s deeply personal journey to discover the riches of the Old Testament: from Moses, the amazing prince of Egypt, to the psalmists’ turbulent emotions and the prophets’ oddball rantings. All of which is told and explained by Yancey with candour, insight and interest. My only niggle would be the odd style change in the chapter about Job, but otherwise I really enjoyed Yancey’s personal perspective he used in the other chapters.
In this way, Yancey takes us through the books of Job, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and the Prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah), with a chapter each devoted to revealing to us how each shows us the relationship God has had with believers over the ages. Yancey also starts to reconnect the ties between the Old and New Testaments, and points out how the old covenant and prophesies of the Scriptures gives us a new understanding of Jesus, the Cornerstone of the new covenant.
All in all I found The Bible Jesus Read really thought-provoking, which got me making lots of notes and re-reading the Old Testament with new eyes. In hindsight, it was also a good, unintentional prequel to my current reading interest in Martin Luther and the Reformers, as they believed in the unity of the Bible. Unfortunately, with everything that is going on in the world, our book club has not been able to meet for a Zoom discussion of this, yet!
Now I’d love to hear from you: What do you think? Have you read this? Or have you read any of Philip Yancey’s many other books?
While this was read a lot earlier, this review was posted during the Nonfiction November 2020 reading event.