Cover image for The Bible Jesus read
The Bible Jesus read
Yancey, Philip.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, [1999]

Physical Description:
221 pages ; 25 cm
Is the Old Testament worth the effort? -- Job : seeing in the dark -- Deuteronomy : a taste of bittersweet -- Psalms : spirituality in every key -- Ecclesiastes : the end of wisdom -- Prophets : God talks back -- Advance echoes of a final answer.
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BS1171.2 .Y36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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'There is no writer in the evangelical world that I admire and appreciate more.'Billy GrahamPhilip Yancey helps reveal what two thousand years of history covered upWhat happens when a respected Christian journalist decides to put his preconceptions aside and take a long look at the Jesus described in the Gospels? How does the Jesus of the New Testament compare to the 'new, rediscovered' Jesus---or even the Jesus we think we know so well? Philip Yancey offers a new and different perspective on the life of Christ and his work---his teachings, his miracles, his death and resurrection---and ultimately, who he was and why he came. From the manger in Bethlehem to the cross in Jerusalem, Yancey presents a complex character who generates questions as well as answers; a disturbing and exhilarating Jesus who wants to radically transform your life and stretch your faith.The Jesus I Never Knew uncovers a Jesus who is brilliant, creative, challenging, fearless, compassionate, unpredictable, and ultimately satisfying. 'No one who meets Jesus ever stays the same,' says Yancey. 'Jesus has rocked my own preconceptions and has made me ask hard questions about why those of us who bear his name don't do a better job of following him.'

Author Notes

Philip Yancey is a journalist and writer who writes a featured column in Christianity Today. The author of more than a dozen books. He is the recipient of a Christianity Today Book of the Year Award, two ECPA Book of the Year Awards, and eleven Gold Medallions. He lives in Evergreen, Colorado.

(Publisher Provided) Philip Yancey received graduate degrees in communication and English from Wheaton College and the University of Chicago. He worked as a journalist in Chicago for about twenty years, editing the youth magazine Campus Life and writing for a wide variety of magazines including Reader's Digest and the Saturday Evening Post. He is an editor at large of Christianity Today. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.

He is the author of numerous books including Disappointment with God, Where Is God When It Hurts?, The Jesus I Never Knew, What's So Amazing About Grace?, The Bible Jesus Read, Reaching for the Invisible God, Rumors of Another World, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?, and What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. He has received 13 Gold Medallion Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Yancey follows The Jesus I Never Knew (1995) and What's So Amazing about Grace? (1997) with a more modest and personal book on the Old Testament, which he concedes is a hard sell to many Christians. After all, the Hebrew Scriptures constitute a dauntingly large book, seem contradictory and cranky, and are really addressed to Jews, so why read them? Rather than dunning us with the obvious, if ahistorical, "They are the Bible Jesus read," Yancey discusses five Old Testament writings and why they are his favorites. He loves Job for its affirmation of faith, Deuteronomy for its portrayal of spiritual heroism in the figure of the aged Moses, the Psalms for their presentation of the intimacy of God's relationship with humanity, Ecclesiastes for its realism about life, and the prophetic books for the hope in God's providence that they inculcate. As usual for Yancey, the discussion draws tellingly from literature and experience as well as the biblical text to make its points. All in all, a gracious, appealing window on the Old Testament. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Yancey is an astute author who challenges Christians' assumptions without alienating them. In The Bible Jesus Read, Yancey encourages readers to consider how Hebrew ScriptureÄwhat Christians call the Old TestamentÄis relevant to their own lives. His premise is that although many Christians tacitly consider the New Testament more important than the Old, the New Testament was written after Jesus' earthly ministry, making the Old Testament "the Bible Jesus read." Hebrew Scripture was the greatest influence on the mind and spirit of the founder of Christianity, a fact that, in the author's estimation, obligates Christians to know it well. Yancey acknowledges the difficulty of transcending the cultural gulf between modern civilization and ancient Israel and seeks to bridge the gap by highlighting sections of the Old Testament that he initially found hard to appreciate. The writings of the Prophets were particularly obscure to Yancey because of the nonnarrative style and assumption of a warrior culture. However, he gradually discovered the passages' deep relevance to, and resonance with, his own experience. He came to love these Old Testament books when he realized that many of their concerns, such as justice for the poor and faithfulness to God, are timeless. Yancey's lucid style and honest handling of difficult ideas ensure that readers who have enjoyed his earlier books will not be disappointed in this one. (Sept.) FYI: Zondervan will simultaneously release an audio version, read by the author (two cassettes, 2 hrs., $16.99 ISBN 0-310-22982-0). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



My brother, who attended a Bible college during a very smart-alecky phase in his life, enjoyed shocking groups of believers by sharing his ;life verse.; After listening to others quote pious phrases from Proverbs, Romans, or Ephesians, he would stand and with a perfectly straight face recite very rapidly this verse from 1 Chronicles 26:18: ;At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.; Other students would screw up their faces and wonder what deep spiritual insight they were missing. Perhaps he was speaking another language? If my brother felt in a particularly ornery mood, he would quote an alternative verse: ;Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones; (Ps. 137:9). In his sassiness my brother had, quite ingeniously, identified the two main barriers to reading the Old Testament: It doesn't always make sense, and what sense it does make can offend modern ears. Why, we wonder, does the Bible spend so much time on temples, priest, and rules governing sacrifices that no longer exist? Why does God care about defective sacrificial animals-limping lambs and bent-winged doves-or about a young goat cooked in its mother's milk, and yet apparently not about people like the Amalekites? Jesus we identify with, the apostle Paul we think we understand; but what of those barbaric people living in the Middle East several thousand years ago? Because of this, most people simply avoid the Old Testament entirely, leaving three-fourths of the Bible unread, while others extract nuggets of truth from it like plucking diamonds from a vein of coal. That technique can backfire, however-remember my brother's life verses. Like reading Shakespeare For a long time I also avoided the Old Testament. Only gradually, once I started reading it in earnest, did I learn to love it. I confess that I began with ignoble motives: I read the Old Testament because I was paid to, as part of my editorial assignment to produce the Student Bible. But long after the Student Bible had been published and stocked on bookstore shelves, I kept returning to the Old Testament on my own. My reading experience parallels one I had with William Shakespeare. In a moment of idealism, I made a New Year's resolution to real all 38 of Shakespeare's plays in one year. To my surprise, fulfilling the task (though I had to extend the deadline) seemed far more like entertainment than work. At first I would have to look up archaic words, concentrate on keeping the characters straight, and adjust to the sheer awkwardness of reading plays. I found, though, that as I kept at it and got accustomed to the rhythm and language, these distractions faded and I felt myself being swept up in the play. Without fail I looked forward to the designated Shakespeare evenings. I expected to learn about Shakespeare's world and the people who inhabited it. I found, though, that Shakespeare mainly taught me about my world. He endures as a playwright because of his genius in probing the hidden recesses of humanity, a skill that gives him appeal in places as varied as the United States, Japan, and Peru several centuries after his death. We find ourselves in his plays. I went through precisely that same process in encountering the Old Testament. From initial resistance, I moved to a reluctant sense that I ought to read the neglected three-quarters of the Bible. As I worked past some of the barriers, I came to feel a need to read, because of what it was teaching me. Eventually, I found myself wanting to read it. Those 39 books satisfied in me some hunger that nothing else had-not even, I must say, the New Testament. They taught me about life with God: not how it is supposed to work, but how it actually does work. The rewards offered by the Old Testament do not come easily, I admit. Learning to feel at home in its pages will take time and effort. All achievements-climbing mountains, mastering the guitar, competing in a triathlon-require a similar process of hard work; we persevere because we believe rewards will come. A reader of the Old Testament confronts obstacles not present in other books. For example, I was put off at first by its disarray. The Old Testament does not read like a cohesive novel; it consists of poetry, history, sermons, and short stories written by various authors and mixed up together. In its time, of course, no one conceived the Old Testament as one book. Each book had its own scroll, and a long book like Jeremiah would occupy a scroll 20 or 30 feet long. A Jewish person entering a synagogue would see stacks of scrolls, not a single book, and, aware of their differences, would choose accordingly. Yet I find it remarkable that this diverse collection of manuscripts written over a period of a millennium by several dozen authors possesses as much unity as it does. To appreciate this feat, imagine a book begun 500 years before Columbus and just now completed. The Bible's striking unity is one strong sign that God directed its composition. By using a variety of authors and cultural situations, God developed a complete record of what he wants us to know; amazingly, the parts fit together in such a way that a single story does emerge. The more I persevered, the more passages I came to understand. And the more I understood, the more I found myself in those passages. Even in a culture as secular as the United States, bestsellers such as The Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore, and The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris, reveal a deep spiritual hunger. The Old Testament speaks to that hunger like no other book. It does not give us a lesson in theology, with abstract concepts neatly arranged in logical order. Quite the opposite: it gives an advanced course in Life with God, expressed in a style at once personal and passionate. Excerpted from The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 9
1 Is the Old Testament Worth the Effort?p. 17
2 Job: Seeing in the Darkp. 45
3 Deuteronomy: A Taste of Bittersweetp. 75
4 Psalms: Spirituality in Every Keyp. 109
5 Ecclesiastes: The End of Wisdomp. 143
6 The Prophets: God Talks Backp. 171
7 Advance Echoes of a Final Answerp. 199