Leith Anderson, |
An Intimate Portrait of the Man,
His Land & His People
(Bethany House, 2005)
The true test of a writer is to take matters we are aware of and produce a story that will grab, intrigue and educate us without being boring. There are few better-known stories than the life of Jesus. From the Gospels, through movies, songs, poems and other stories, we must believe that we have heard everything there is to know about the man, whatever our religion. His birth gives us Christmas, his death Easter and his message gives us a moral code.
Leith Anderson has taken the challenge to retell the story in Jesus: An Intimate Portrait of the Man, His Land & His People, and he has succeeded marvelously. His knowledge of the era in question blends with his very obvious commitment to the man and his story to produce a tour de force of over 350 pages of facts, insights and entertaining reading.
From that opening line, the hook that all writers strive for -- "There was no good way to hurry the pregnant young bride as she travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem" -- we are involved. We know the tale and can anticipate the events, but it is intriguing to read with "new eyes" this familiar story.
Anderson writes with ease and we read with delight. The footnotes -- if that is the correct word given the placement within the pages -- are lucid, expert and educational. These include letting us know the origins of the word "church" and the value of Roman coins. There are also sections inserted explaining Pharisees, Royal Herods and a number of other historical items.
But the primary strength of the book is the narrative. The language is simple but never simplistic. It respects the intelligence of the reader but is not afraid to elucidate points or concepts that could be unknown even to educated readers.
This is a wonderful book in the literal sense that it is filled with wonders.
This book will appeal to Christians but I would urge non-Christians and atheists to give it a try. You do not have to convert or even accept all the information included, but you will find it an interesting read and a very good biography of a man.