Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: Jesus, In His Own Words

book cover

Jesus, In His Own Words
by Robert Mounce

ISBN-13: 9781433669194
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: B&H Books
Released: September 1, 2010

Source: Electronic review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Back Cover:
What if Jesus were to tell you in first person about His time on earth?

"You are about to read an account of the life and ministry of Jesus that combines all four gospels into a single narrative and allows Jesus himself to tell us the story," writes veteran Bible translator Robert H. Mounce at the beginning of Jesus, In His Own Words. "Although the style is contemporary, the desire is to clarify the meaning of the original text rather than to impress the reader with clever phrases."

To that end, Mounce's more conversational interpretation of the Gospels allows the reader to "be there" during" Christ's birth and boyhood, at his baptism by John the Baptist, on the hillside when he spoke about the kingdom, amidst the miracle workings, and so on. His approach makes the words fresh to longtime believers and inviting to those seeking Scripture for the first time. Complementing the prosaic text, a full index of people, places, verse units, basic themes, and paragraph headings is also included.

Robert H. Mounce is president emeritus of Whitworth College in Spokane,Washington, a noted commentary author, and has worked on several Bible translation teams including those for the New International Version, New Living Translation, and English Standard Version.

My Review:
Jesus, In His Own Words combined the gospels and told them in first person from Jesus' point of view. This book was written in everyday language, and a few modern words or phrases were used. The translation was easy to understand and helped bring out insights I hadn't noticed before. Mounce also occasionally inserted very brief commentary (often cultural information) that's not actually in the Bible.

The gospels were sorted into roughly chronological order (birth, childhood, ministry, death, resurrection). However, I found some of the ordering confusing or jarring. For example, Luke's family line for Jesus was placed after Jesus' baptism. Sometimes, the events didn't read like they were in order due to the time or place indicators for the various events. Also, I was surprised that John 6:25-71, which I view as one unit, was broken apart and John 6:26-59 and John 6:60-71 were separated by seven events that occurred at various locations in Israel.

Sometimes words were left out or changed from dialogue to description. For example, Luke 23:43 "Jesus answered him, 'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise' in NIV became "And I assured him, 'This very day you will be with me in paradise.'" Perhaps some omissions, like "fasting" in Matthew 17:21, were because the word wasn't in early manuscripts.

There were also a few odd or potentially misleading translations of words, like "abandoning the Jewish faith" in "Because of Lazarus, many were abandoning the Jewish faith and beginning to believe in me" for John 12:11. And the ten virgins in the parable of Matt. 25:1-13 carried torches instead of lamps (which made the need for oil seem kind of odd).

Overall, though, I'm glad I read this book, and I liked it a little better than Eyewitness by Frank Ball.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One

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