Jesus the Messiah: An Illustrated Life of Christ, by Donald Guthrie (Zondervan, 1972, 386 pp., $6.95), A Shorter Life of Christ, by Donald Guthrie (Zondervan, 1970, 186 pp., $2.45 pb), and The Gospels in Current Study, by Simon Kistemaker (Baker, 1972, 171 pp., $2.95 pb), are reviewed by Donald Hagner, assistant professor of Bible, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
It is a treat to have two books on the life of Christ from the veteran British New Testament scholar Donald Guthrie, perhaps best known to American readers for his excellent New Testament introduction. The Shorter Life presents the substance of Guthrie’s article in the forthcoming Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. It includes not only background material and a sketch of the life of Jesus but also a discussion of critical questions associated with the subject, as well as special treatment of the teaching and miracles of Jesus and of the Christology of the early Church. Guthrie shows himself thoroughly familiar with modern criticism of the Gospels from redaction criticism to New Quest. Although he is willing to learn what he can from the modern debate, he fair-mindedly and honestly holds to a solidly evangelical perspective. Against much scholarly opinion, Guthrie adamantly refuses to allow a wedge to be driven between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. The recognition of the gospel writers as theologians writing from the standpoint of post-resurrection faith, Guthrie rightly insists, does not mean they cannot also have been careful historians.
In Jesus the Messiah Guthrie writes at the popular level, giving no space to discussion of background or critical questions; he limits himself to a full description of the life of Christ from the annunciation ...1
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