Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Life and Times of The Lord Jesus Christ: A Harmony of the Gospels by Peter E J Smith--Book Review

If you are looking for an easy way to review or study the life of Jesus Christ then The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ: A Harmony of the Gospels by Peter E J Smith may be just what you're looking for.

In this 155-page book, Smith has taken the events written about in the four Gospels and put them in chronological order so that the reader gets a full understanding of the events of Christ's life as they occurred. Hailed by the author as "...something of a fifth gospel" this book begins with John 1: 1-18, which says, "In the beginning was the Word [Jesus Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Then moves quickly through the ancestry of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew, the announcement to Zacharias of the upcoming birth of his son--who he is instructed to name, John [the Baptist], the annunciation to Mary, Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, and John's birth--which are all found in the first chapter of Luke. We briefly hear of the announcement to Joseph and him taking Mary as his wife from the Gospel of Matthew, then return back to the the Gospel of Luke for the birth of Christ and other events that occurred within his infancy. The reader travels along through the various gospels from Christ's infancy up to his Resurrection and Ascension.

Meant to be a companion volume to Ellen Gould White's Christian classic, The Desire of Ages, The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ can be helpful to new Christians who want to explore Christ's life easily. It would also work well for Bible study groups who are interested in studying the four Gospels as a unit rather than exploring them separately. It could be a helpful resource to writers whose fiction or non-fiction stories revolve around the life of Christ or the times in which He lived.

I did, however, have a couple of concerns regarding this book. Smith states that he has spent over 20 years as an avid student of the life of Jesus Christ, but provides few sources. I found the Comparison a bit confusing because it contains so many numbers, and perhaps the reader would have been better served if Smith only discussed the reasons for the size of his book as he did in the last few paragraphs of this section. And this is just a tiny nitpick, but the entire Preface is written with every word capitalized and it also contained a few typographical errors. This is a bit distracting.

I know I will find The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ helpful in my research and I believe others will find this chronological telling of the life of Jesus Christ easier to understand than if they read all four Gospels one after the other.

Title: The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ: A Harmony of the Gospels
Author: Peter E J Smith
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4327-0939-6
U.S. Price: $13.95

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