Book Review: Jesus - A Theography, by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola

I used to wonder why the God of the Old Testament seemed so different than the God of the New Testament.  Bible study with other Christians helped me to see that He isn’t so different in either era after all.  The Old Testament came to life for me when I learned that much of it was a foreshadowing of Christ.  Jesus, A Theography, by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, portrays the parallels between the two testaments through a telling of the life of Jesus from the grand narrative of all of Scripture with a theological perspective. 

From reading a couple other books by Leonard Sweet, I knew this “theography” was not going to be told in a dry or boring manner.  Sweet has a reputation with me of taking something familiar and putting a different spin on it, helping me see it’s beauty again, in a way that is personal and touches the heart.  Sweet and Viola lived up to my expectations.  They tell the story of the life of Jesus, beginning not at his birth here on earth but at the beginning of creation, and continue all the way beyond His resurrection to His next return. They show how much of the Old Testament foreshadows the life of Christ. They find Him in every nook and cranny.

“I’d rather see Jesus where He isn’t than miss Him where He is.”  While I can’t remember who said this quote, it came to mind repeatedly while I was reading this book.  In seminary, my hermeneutics professor taught that as we interpret the meaning of the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, we must be careful to do it the same way the apostles did, and only where the apostles did.  At the time, I wasn’t sure I was in complete agreement with the professor, but after reading this book, I see what he was cautioning against.  A few of the places where Sweet and Viola see Jesus just seems like a bit of a stretch.  But that’s okay – I don’t mind pondering the possibility, even if it’s stretching it to see something that really isn’t there.

When I got to the section that suggested that Eve was created on the 8th day of creation instead of the 6th, I appreciated that the authors caused me to consider something that I never thought of before, and that they didn’t insist that they were 100% right in the proposition.   But they lost a little credibility with me from that point forward.  I found myself continually referring to the footnotes, or at least wanting to but too lazy to follow through sometimes since they were in the back of the book instead of the bottom of the page.

I still think it’s a pretty good book.  The writing style is simple and not at all academic (except the footnotes).  Any reader who is not familiar with how the two testaments tie together to tell a single story, or any reader who wants a deeper understanding of Jesus’s foreshadowing in the Old Testament, then this book is a good place to start.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review. 

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