Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: A Year with Jesus by R. P. Nettelhorst

The subtitle of this book is “Daily Reflections and Readings on Jesus’ Own Words” and this 1-year devotional book is just that.  A Year with Jesus focuses on the words of Jesus: his sermons, parables, miracles, and interactions with his disciples and Second Temple Jewish leadership.  The text is divided into 365 daily devotionals; each one takes about 5 minutes to read. The first half of each devotional is a scripture passage taken from a different translation (i.e, NIV, NKJV) or paraphrase (The Message).  The second half of each devo includes a personal reflection or application.  Nettelhorst divides the year’s readings into 10 groups to allow readers to contemplate Jesus’ teachings on the following topics: Love and Hate, Truth and Lies, Arrogance and Humility, Friends and Enemies, Belief and Disbelief, Patience and Impatience, Deserved and Undeserved, Good and Evil, Fidelity and Treachery, and Life and Death.

What struck me most about these devotions is their attention to the Jewish roots of Christianity.  Nettelhorst places some readings in the context of Jewish holidays and reminds readers of the Messianic expectations of Jesus’ time.  I did a little research and discovered that the author not only spent time in Israel (working on a kibbutz) he also did graduate work in Semitic languages.  A Year with Jesus is not “scholarly’--it’s very readable and accessible--but it is intelligent, which gives it a plus in my book.

Since I’m reviewing this close to Christmas, I think this would make a great gift for a family member, friend, or Bible study teacher.  It’s a little big to be completely portable and won’t fit into a purse or glove compartment (if you’re looking for that sort of book) But I’m thankful that Thomas Nelson valued content over size for this volume.  

Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program.