Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Divine Miracle of Humanity

The Jesus We Missed : The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ, Patrick Henry ReardonAn adequate Christology, then, affirms that the Word's becoming flesh refers to more than the single instant of his becoming present in the Virgin's womb.  He continued becoming . . . a particular human life. (28)
Patrick Henry Reardon
The Jesus We Missed:  The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ

 One theme of the "post-modern" church is the push to make the Gospel "accessible" by humanizing its principles.  Adam Hamilton certainly does a good job of that, without minimizing Jesus' divinity, in his book 24 Hours That Changed the World.  Like a good storyteller, Hamilton helps the reader visualize the life of Jesus with scriptural explanations and good old common sense.  While my Sunday School class undertook the Hamilton book during Lent, I took on a similar read, I thought, in my personal study:  Patrick Henry Reardon's The Jesus We Missed:  The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ.  While comparable in topic, they are similar in the way that ice milk is like frozen custard:  it's a matter of depth and craft.

Hamilton obviously wrote his book to appeal to the average reader:  it's engaging, amiable, dramatic at times, follows popular dramatic structure, but, in the end, somewhat frothy.  Reardon's The Jesus We Missed uses a classic rhetorical structure to build its case.  Reardon organizes his argument into twelve chapters determined by the chronology of Jesus' life from his youth to his resurrection.  In each chapter, he addresses the consensus of the Gospel writers as well as trying to reconcile some of the chronological discrepancies between the authors of the Gospels.  In addition to literary analysis of the Scripture, Reardon quotes extensively from sources which are ex-canon and from patriarchs of the early church to good effect.  The overall result is a scholarly analysis for the scholarly-minded.

While not as folksy as Hamilton, Reardon's writing style is elegant without being pretentious.  He doesn't want to impress the reader; he wants the reader to understand.  That's a rare quality in scholarly work of this level.

Although the reader could finish The Jesus We Missed rather quickly, that would rob the student of the opportunity to consider, study, and pray over Reardon's lessons.  This one deserves to be studied rather than read.

In humanizing the Christ, there could be a danger of minimizing his divinity.  Reardon's Scripture-filled study leaves you even more amazed, and awed, that the Word became flesh--became one of us--so that we might be redeemed.  That is why it is a great book.

Disclaimer:  Yes, I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an objective review.  I can say what I want about the book.  I have.

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