I recently completed the book Jesus: A Theography by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I highly recommend it to pastors specifically and Christians in general. I challenged me in my faith and inspired me in my sermons.
Let me first say that the subtitle is genius and makes the uniqueness of the book apparent. Most books about Jesus are really biographies. They look at the earthly life of Jesus. This book starts with the premise of scripture that Jesus is God and writes from that perspective. Instead of beginning at Jesus’ birth, Sweet and Viola begin with Jesus as a person of the Godhead and Jesus as part of creation. The also look at Jesus in the Old Testament before they deal with what most biographies of Jesus start with.
When Viola and Sweet do look at the earthly life of Jesus they do so in unique ways. Fitting with Sweet’s style, they look at Jesus through metaphors, images, and stories. They also deal with some aspects of Jesus’ life that most people overlook such as the thought life of Jesus, the humor of Jesus, and Jesus’ relationships with others. This stirring image of Jesus challenge me on page after page. I often found myself having to put the book down to think about what I was reading.
What I most appreciated about the book was the huge vision of Jesus that Sweet and Viola portray. Their love of Jesus and their admiration of Him shine through in every section. Reading this book is great for your faith, great for your theology, and great for your preaching. It inspired a sermon series for me that started with a sermon telling the story of Jesus as a theography. You can listen to that HERE.
This fall I will be starting a Doctor of Ministry through George Fox Seminary under Leonard Sweet. It was partly this book that drew me to the program and to studying with him. I hope that my path also crosses with Frank Viola at some point. I commend both of their work to you.