Book summary of "A Spectator's guide to Jesus"

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John Dickson, an Honorary Associate in the Department of History in Macquarie University, unfolds the myths and the religiosity that often blurs the image of Jesus. Dickson explores the many roles and identities that are given to Jesus, healer, teacher, Christ. "A Spectator's guide to Jesus" is a book dedicated to discovering the truth to the most controversial religious topics, from Jesus' replacement of the temple, his divineness, meaning of his death and his words and deeds that inspire.

In the first chapter, "How we know what we know about Jesus?" Dickson discusses the certainty of Christianity, mentioning the various ancient manuscripts of Jesus from the Greco-Roman references, to the writings of the New Testament. Dickson then comes to discuss the plausibility of the Bible. Since Paul and Mark had independently offered similar descriptions of Jesus' life and teaching, and because we know these sources are not copied from each other, we have to assume their information was both early and widely known. After proving the encounters of Jesus as extremely likely events, Dickson's main concern in the second chapter, "His words and their impact" is emphasising on Jesus' words of the Christian character of sex, marriage, prayers, wealth, food and body, caring for those in need, loving enemies and divine mercy. The words of Jesus as mentioned in the Gospels, impact on the way humans should live their lives and have an understanding for humanity.

Dickson confronts the problems for society believing in miracles since they occur only in small-minded children's tales. In Chapter 3, "The deeds that baffle," Dickson explains Jesus' stunning miracles as a preview of God's coming kingdom. Dickson argues that if one was to see that there were no forces in the universe other than the observable laws of nature, then a matter of uncertainty will occur. While if one believed in the miracles of Jesus, the whole puzzle would be completed.

In Chapter 6, Dickson explores the human nature of ignoring the rules that God had set up for us, we tend to modify these rules to suite our own preferences. It is in this chapter that Dickson explores the role of Jesus, to overcome the wrongs of this world on behalf of God and also represent God as a loving creator. An example of Jesus' role is explored in the previous chapter (4), where Jesus and God had saved the Israelites from the tyrannous Egyptian invasion, under the command of the famous Pharaoh Ramses II.

Dickson points out in Chapter 7 of Jesus' death and resurrection which had borne divine judgement for all those who accept his hand of friendship. Jesus' openness towards sinners was a deliberate sign of God's grace unlike the Jewish way of rejecting non-Jews. Jesus' preaching declared that his suffering and scandalous social life embodied grace in a tangible way. Through his meals with the undeserving, he sought to demonstrate the friendship with sinners he believed God so keenly desires. Jesus' acting as a replacement of the temple in Chapter 8 not only suggests a mere religious radical, but the thought of allowing the whole community to embrace the Messiah.

Chapter 9, "The meaning of his death," as Dickson once again assesses, is the aim of Christ's mission. Christ had died for us to win God's forgiveness, "cancel his judgement and guarantee us a place in his kingdom." Chapter 9 is a follow on from Chapter 5 which described the significance of Jesus' title. Dickson tells of the importance of the title 'Christ', an Anglicised form of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which had endowed his divine authority as 'saviour', rescuing people from divine judgement. Dickson also explains the significance of the traditional Passover themes of 'blood' and 'forgiveness' of God's people. God's judgement would fall upon the lamb (Jesus) so that it might pass over 'sinners'.

Chapter 10, 11 and 12 shows the importance of Christ's resurrection which had shaped the Christian belief of the afterlife....
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