So a few months ago I received the book "Jesus: A Theography" by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola to review through the blogging program booksneeze. Normally it doesn't take me 4 months to review a book, but due to a combination of busyness, holidays, and the depth (and length) of the book, I am finally getting around to reviewing this book.
The first thing you need to know is just what a theography is. A Theogrpahy is basically the combination between the words Theology and Biography. It can be defined as writing about God. Or a Theological Biography. And in the case of this book a Theological Biography of Jesus and reading Scripture through the lens of Jesus and finding Jesus in both the 1st and 2nd Testaments (words that the authors use instead of Old and New Testament.)
According to the authors, their purpose in writing this book is that, "the Bible is the narrative of Jesus- the Christ, the Savior, the living Lord, and our All. On every page of the First Testament, God poured out his heart. He bled with his people long and hard before He entered earth through the womb of a young virgin girl in Bethlehem."
The book helped me to see the author's premise that the Bible,from beginning to end, is the story of creation, revelation, redemption, and consummation and that Christ is present in every word, every book, and every narrative. Even in sections that I struggle with understanding or struggle to fit into my theology, that Jesus is working this overarching redemptive narrative.
Even the way that the author's structure their chapters pushed their premise of Christ in the Old and New Testament. They started with Christ before time, than Christ in Creation (both in Macro and Micro), and then entering into the stories and narratives of the New Testament including his birth, his boyhood, the missing years, and into his ministry years of healing, teaching, and finally his death, and resurrection.
I would probably say that the most helpful part of the book for me dealt with Chapter 14 entitled, "The Atonement and the Harrowing of Hell." and how it helped me to again understand, in some small way, what took place that fateful day over 2,000 years ago when Jesus hung on the cross. It helped me to see that our human theories of atonement (cristus victor, penal substitution, ransom, non-violent, etc...) all have some basis in Scripture but in the end they all come up short in fully explaining the cross and Jesus death on the cross for all of humanity. Or as the author's put it, "Because the work of Jesus Christ at Calvary is too enormous in its scope and too rich in its meaning to be captured by a single image or definition."
I would say that overall, while this book is a long read, and took me some time to wade through, overall I am glad that I did. It helped me to wrestle with Jesus in the books of the Old Testament, with the overarching narrative of redemption that God started even before time, and will bring into consummation when he remakes heaven and earth (and all those who call on his name). It helped me to reframe the way that I see the Bible, not as a series of books held together by glue and binding, but a series of books held together by Jesus, his redemptive narrative, and his blood.