It is often observed that no historical figure has had a greater impact on the world than Jesus Christ. Why is that? And what difference does his impact make to the world today? It is also often said that Jesus was a 'revolutionary', and numerous books have appeared in recent years claiming just that - from the wild and sensational to the serious and respectable. This book, written by influential authors reflecting a diversity of expertise and points of view, considers the claims that continue to be made about Jesus, whether by believers or nonbelievers.
I write this review at a time when the British press has trumpeted, ‘Christmas has been saved!’ Meaning an annual festival of shopping, eating, drinking and generally over-indulging has been given a limited go ahead, amid the global pandemic known as Covid-19.
But the real Christmas would have gone ahead no matter what. Why? Because, ‘Across the planet, over two billion believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God’.
So writes Tom Holland, celebrated historian, writer and broadcaster, in his introduction to a compelling collection of essays about Jesus. Here are leading intellectuals offering insights into Jesus as the single most important figure in Western (some would claim, world) history.
If you think here’s a book of neat Christian testimonies, you’ll be disappointed. The writers may all be bright but they are not all believers. Anything but, in the case of some. But they are all gripped by the questions about Jesus that never go away. Who was he? What was his mission? And most of all, why can’t we stop thinking about him?
The contributors differ greatly; a former Archbishop, an expert on Islam, a novelist, a Christian apologist and a potpourri of professors share testimony, wisdom and insights on the ‘pale Galilean’ [‘Hymn to Proserpine’ by Swinburne] who, seemingly, won’t stay dead.
Listen to historian Holland’s bold assertion; ‘Two thousand and twenty years after the birth of Christ, we remain the children of the Christian revolution: the most disruptive, the most influential and the most enduring revolution in history.’
Preachers who read this book will encounter perspectives to inform their preaching and inspire them to keep telling the good news clearly, to a puzzled yet open generation. Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool FC claims ‘Jesus is the most important person in history.’ This book suggests why this is the case.
Preach magazine book review by Ian Coffey, writer and speaker who lectures on preaching and leadership at Moorlands College.
AUTHOR: Tom Holland is a bestselling author and broadcaster. His recent publications include Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind (Little,Brown 2019), Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar (Little, Brown 2015) and In the Shadow of the Sword: Global Empire and the Rise of a New Religion (Little, Brown 2012).