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Jesus I Never Knew [Paperback]

Philip Yancey
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 7 2002 Yancey, Phillip
Philip Yancey reveals the real Jesus beyond the stereotypes, revolutionizing the reader's passion for Christ.

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An old adage says, "God created man in His own image and man has been returning the favor ever since." Philip Yancey realized that despite a lifetime attending Sunday school topped off by a Bible college education, he really had no idea who Jesus was. In fact, he found himself further and further removed from the person of Jesus, distracted instead by flannel-graph figures and intellectual inspection. He determined to use his journalistic talents to approach Jesus, in the context of time, within the framework of history.

In The Jesus I Never Knew, Yancey explores the life of Jesus, as he explains, "'from below,' to grasp as best I can what it must have been like to observe in person the extraordinary events unfolding in Galilee and Judea" as Jesus traveled and taught. Yancey examines three fundamental questions: who Jesus was, why he came, and what he left behind. Step by step, scene by scene, Yancey probes the culture into which Jesus was born and grew to adulthood; his character and mission; his teachings and miracles; his legacy--not just as history has told it, but as he himself intended it to be.

Yancey is not alone in his examination of the "real" Jesus. Publishing today is replete with writers committed to setting the story "straight,quot; joining countless others who, over the past 2,000 years, have determined to discover the truth about Jesus. But where others would deconstruct and discount, Yancey disarms and discloses. We become colleagues with him as he examines the accounts of the life of Jesus. And among the things that we discover is that Jesus himself leaves us few options: either he was who he said he was or he was nuts.

Philip Yancey was awarded the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year award for this book in 1996 by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. It's not the first, nor the last, award Yancey has won for his writing. But the writing is not necessarily the great gift of this book. Yancey allows the reader to discover, along with him, The Jesus I Never Knew. --Patricia Klein --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

The Jesus I Never Knew and What's So Amazing About Grace? have influenced the Christian church in a way few other books ever have. Both have ascended to the ranks of ongoing best-sellers. Both have won the Gold Medallion Book of the Year Award--fitting recognition for what may well be Philip Yancey's two most significant books to date. And now the previously abridged audio editions of these two remarkable works come unabridged. Read by professional narrator Bill Richards, here are Yancey's complete, passionate, personal insights into the person of Jesus and the nature of grace--with the convenience and flexibility of Zondervan Audio Pages. Andrew Lloyd Webber cast him as a rock-n-roll rebel in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, many Christians see him as a handsome European-looking man, and social justice groups place him next to Ghandi in his defense of the downtrodden. But, says Philip Yancey, the real Jesus would have left most people scratching their heads along with the disciples and asking, "Who is this guy?"

This is exactly the question Yancey asks in his new book The Jesus I Never Knew. Yancey's search for the real Jesus collides with the calm, cool, collected, and "loving hippie" notions of Jesus he saw in modern American culture. Instead, he finds a Galilean Jew born into apparent scandal making the most daring of claims: that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Light.

The Jesus I Never Knew developed out of a class Yancey led at LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, but finding the real Jesus has been Yancey's passion since childhood.

Yancey saw Him as a cardboard cut-out in Sunday School and a "cosmic Christ" in Bible college. Today he sees a world that marks its calendar around Jesus' birth and uses His name to intensify a curse. (Wouldn't it be odd to center a calendar around Napoleon's birth or to scream "Thomas Jefferson" in a shocking situation?).

"And yet," says Yancey, "I am not writing a book about Jesus because he is a great man who changed history. I am not tempted to write about Julius Caesar or the Chinese emperor who built the great wall. I am drawn to Jesus, irresistibly, because he has positioned himself at the dividing point of life-my life."

The Jesus I Never Knew looks at who Jesus was, why he came, and what he left behind. More than historical speculation or doctrinal recitation, Yancey asks the questions out of a personal desire to truly know Jesus.

"The Jesus I Knew has to be the greatest book I've read on the subject." Mark O. Hatfield, U.S. Senator, Oregon --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book That I Have Ever Read July 1 2004
This is the best book that I have ever read in my life. Period. A truly, phenomenal effort. The book is so well-written that it almost reads itself. One critic called it the best book written about Jesus in the 20th Century. Probably true. An agnostic that I know called it an impartial examination into the person Jesus.
I'll be honest, I haven't liked all of Yancey's books. A few of his books have seemed forced, whereas a few others are well written. As for this book, it is so far above anything Yancey (or anybody else, for that matter) has written. Read it and pass it on. I have lended my copy to so many people that I have had to buy extra copies.
This book makes you feel good about being a Christian. Plain and simple.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, interesting, but still one-sided April 7 2002
It's refreshing to read a book approved by the evangelical Christian community (there's a blurb on the back from Billy Graham) yet obviously written by someone with significant depth and a willingness to look for answers beyond the Bible. Yancey does that here, referring to esteemed Russian novelists Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky (sp?) for insights. Yancey also makes it clear there are things that leave him wistful and wondering, like why (according to the gospel writers, anyway) did Jesus ascend into heaven so soon instead of sticking around and doing more good? That said, this book still has the approval of the evangelical community, which means viewpoints held with a vice-grip intensity are not questioned...i.e. that Jesus was God in the flesh (sorry Phillip, you SO didn't provide adequate evidence, since the Bible doesn't either, in my opinion). So if you're a questioning person who wants a variety of viewpoints, I suggest checking out Tom Harpur's excellent For Christ's Sake.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The main problem I have with this book is how Yancey frequently quotes the Gospels as if they were more or less history to support deductions or conclusions, not about faith in the risen Jesus Christ, but the historical Jesus who he might have seen as a first century observer, a vantage point that he deliberately adopts. He does not explicitly acknowledge doing this, perhaps because his intended audience will not be particularly knowledgeable or troubled by the technique. But his technique leaves his interpretation open to counter interpretations of the "personality" of Jesus, citing other evidence from the Gospels.
The truth is that the Gospels were not intended to portray anything like a biographical image of Jesus and to the extent that they do, they are often inconsistent with one or the other evangelist editing the basic traditions or sources and even each other's words (particularly Matthew and Luke of Mark). So Yancey should have made clear that he could not draw the kinds of conclusions and human portrait that he does except from an imaginative exercise done for his own (and our) edification. There is nothing wrong with that exercise - to imagine Jesus as he was on earth by filling in with plausible supposition the many gaps and reconciling or picking and choosing among the inconsistencies - as long as we don't let ourselves be lulled into the notion that such a portrait is a substitute for the only direct understanding we can have of Jesus through Scripture - as the now risen Lord testified to in the Gospels (as well as the rest of the New Testament). This understanding comes only by reading/hearing them in faith.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Feb. 14 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Philip Yancey writes a great book and really made me think. He opened my eyes to subjects that I never thought of before.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Quest for the Pseudo-Historical Jesus Feb. 29 2004
By A Customer
This book is basically what the quest for the historical Jesus looks like when done by a non-scholar within the bounds of evangelical Christianity. I think Yancey is genuinely interested in discovering what Jesus was really like, but there are some lines he won't cross to find out.
Yancey does manage to clear away a lot of the pious rubble that typically hides Jesus, but in the end he still comes away with a very Christian Jesus (i.e. not Jewish). Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking Yancey to go the route of the Jesus Seminar, but if you want to really explore who Jesus was, consider N.T. Wright instead of Yancey as a guide.
Beyond that it seems like Yancey runs out of things to say about two thirds of the way through the book and rather than quit he keeps rehashing the same song and dance. "I would have expected the Son of God to assert his power, but Jesus came in weakness." This is certainly true, and very important. But you can only say it so many ways.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Teacher is held to a higher standard. Feb. 10 2000
We used this study during an Outreach Bible Study, and I was dismayed to find some poorly chosen descriptions of God. While searching, doubts and misunderstandings are normal, but to state them as correct characteristics is troubling. For instance, on page 17&18 of The Jesus I Never Knew, Yancy writes...In the Old Testament I found myself identifying with those who boldly stood up to God: Moses, Job, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, the psalmists. As I read, I felt I was watching a play with human characters who acted out their lives of small triumph and large tragedy on stage, while periodically calling to an unseen Stage Manager, "You don't know what it's like out here!" Job was most brazen, flinging to God this accusation: "Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?" Every so often I could hear the echo of a booming voice from far offstage, behind the curtain. "Yeah, and you don't know what it's like back here either!" it said, to Moses, to the prophets, most loudly to Job. When I got to the Gospels, however, the accusing voices stilled. God, if I may use such language, "found out" what life is like in the confines of planet earth.
A simple way to refute this is two things, one is that God is not a God of time. So, therefore, He has always known what it was like to be human. The the accusing voices, well, that's when judgement went from being hinged on the law to grace. God didn't learn something knew or wake up, so to speak. What a sad thing image to proclaim to people reading this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoying the book
The book was in a good condition. Received it on time. Thanks very much! I am reading the book at present and am enjoying every word written - great author!
Published on Jan. 11 2010 by Cheryl M. Gomez
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading
This book is thought-provoking and beautifully written. It will keep you engaged throughout.
Yancey makes no bones about the fact that he's Christian and has a Christian... Read more
Published on June 17 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought triggering! One can certainly learn more about Jesus
As promised by the book title, the author tried to deliver something "insightful" about Jesus to anybody who might even had read the whole New Testament several times. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2004 by ServantofGod
3.0 out of 5 stars Passionate, yet off-base
Why does Christianity, alone among the world's great religions, feel compelled to prove itself by non-theological means? Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2004 by Avid Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Food For Thought
This book was great food for thought, and I wished that I could buy copies for all of my friends.
Philip Yancy takes an indept look at Jesus's life here on earth and analyse... Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2003 by Heather Negahdar
5.0 out of 5 stars You will know Jesus better
Philip Yancey's book The Jesus I Never Knew reminds me of the chorus of a contemporary worship song, "I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about you. Read more
Published on Nov. 13 2003 by C. Stephans
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
Wow. Simply the best Christian book I've ever consumed. An amazing book by a gifted, insightful author.
Published on Nov. 8 2003 by FL Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Explains Why God Does Not Furnish More Compelling Proofs
The Christian faith is eminently rational, and there is a large body of evidence that supports its truth claims. Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2003 by Jan Peczkis
5.0 out of 5 stars Look at Jesus in a Different Light!
Yancey's book seeks to and succeeds in challenging some the misconceptions of Jesus Christ and the power He exercised.
Among the points Yancey covers include:
1. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2003 by Michael Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best
This is without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read. If you are serious about knowing the real Jesus. PLEASE get this book.
Published on Sept. 14 2003
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