Review

Jesus: A Theography

by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola combine their expert communication skills in this heavy-duty treatise. Jesus says, “All Scripture points to me” in John 5:39, and JESUS: A THEOGRAPHY supplies the evidence of that telling statement. The authors demonstrate Jesus’ “appearance” throughout the Old and New Testament by weaving together a single ongoing storyline that encapsulates the Messiah’s life on earth.

"Throughout the book, Sweet and Viola quite successfully capture Jesus’ humanity and point out how His growing up years was oh-so-common... Also, they do an admirable job of pulling out the most telling and significant sections/lessons/contributions of Scripture while weaving it all into a cohesive and single theme: Jesus."

This challenging study, which combines the historical Jesus and the theology of Scripture, hasn’t been tackled before, but as readers will appreciate, Sweet and Viola do a wonderful job creating an ongoing narrative of Jesus’ human life while maintaining His divinity. Beginning at creation, the authors point out that the 66 books of the Bible are truly woven together by a single storyline. They suggest a helpful starting point for appreciating this single-theme study: “One of the best ways to look at the twenty-seven books of the New Testament may be to see them as almost a commentary on the Old Testament. The entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are unified by a common narrative. And once our eyes are opened to see that narrative, everything in both Testaments gels into a coherent, understandable, and amazing story.”

As Sweet and Viola correctly note, the end product of Christianity is a person (Jesus Christ) with two natures (divine/human) and four ministries (prophet/priest/king/sage) and four biographies (the Gospels). They detail more foundational principles in their introduction to this important work and then close out the opening chapter with three key points for readers to grasp. First, this text is written primarily for a Christian audience. Second, the authors begin recounting the story of Jesus from His birth in Bethlehem until His second coming via a chronological blending of the four Gospels. Third, this work is written not for scholars but for the general reading population.

The story of Jesus is set out from the beginning of the Old Testament through the New Testament as follows: Christ before time; Christ in creation (macro and micro); Jesus’ birth and boyhood; Jesus’ missing years; Jesus’ preparation for ministry; Jesus’ baptism and temptation; Jesus chooses His disciples; Jesus’ mission statement; Jesus: healer and miracle-worker; Jesus: teacher and preacher; the human Jesus; Jesus’ trial and crucifixion; the atonement and the harrowing of hell; the resurrection, ascension and pentecost; and the return of the king. Also included is a well-rounded conclusion that brings the key points together and recaps valuable principles. Finally, the authors supply an appendix filled with post-apostolic witnesses and the comments and quotes regarding who Jesus was (is).

Throughout the book, Sweet and Viola quite successfully capture Jesus’ humanity and point out how His growing up years was oh-so-common (something many Christ followers seem to forget). Also, they do an admirable job of pulling out the most telling and significant sections/lessons/contributions of Scripture while weaving it all into a cohesive and single theme: Jesus. Readers will appreciate Jesus as the man and Jesus as God in fresh ways as they work through this inspirational text.

Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 19, 2012

Jesus: A Theography
by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola