The Jesus I Never Knew

by Phillip Yancey

Hardcover, 1995




'There is no writer in the evangelical world that I admire and appreciate more.'Billy GrahamPhilip Yancey helps reveal what two thousand years of history covered upWhat happens when a respected Christian journalist decides to put his preconceptions aside and take a long look at the Jesus described in the Gospels? How does the Jesus of the New Testament compare to the 'new, rediscovered' Jesus---or even the Jesus we think we know so well? Philip Yancey offers a new and different perspective on the life of Christ and his work---his teachings, his miracles, his death and resurrection---and ultimately, who he was and why he came. From the manger in Bethlehem to the cross in Jerusalem, Yancey presents a complex character who generates questions as well as answers; a disturbing and exhilarating Jesus who wants to radically transform your life and stretch your faith.The Jesus I Never Knew uncovers a Jesus who is brilliant, creative, challenging, fearless, compassionate, unpredictable, and ultimately satisfying. 'No one who meets Jesus ever stays the same,' says Yancey. 'Jesus has rocked my own preconceptions and has made me ask hard questions about why those of us who bear his name don't do a better job of following him.'… (more)


Zondervan (1995), Edition: 1st, 290 pages

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(394 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from this book (which now that I think of it is particularly appropriate, Jesus), so naturally it surprised me, but I was surprised again that it impressed me too. Evangelical dude Yancey, you are an imagination blowout! An emotionless cosmic God, becoming
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human through the Jesus Experiment? A showdown in the desert, Messiah and devil growling each other out? Jesus as either/or? Either God or madman, blessed surcease or demented malevolence? Saviour or monster? This book made me feel good about Christianity, and there wasn't much that could do that at this point in my life.
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LibraryThing member MarieFriesen
Philip Yancey reveals the real Jesus beyond the stereotypes, revolutionizing the reader’s passion for Christ, and offers a new and different perspective on the life of Christ and his work—his teachings, his miracles, his death and resurrection—and ultimately, who he was and why he came.
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Relating the gospel events to the world we live in today, The Jesus I Never Knew gives a moving and refreshing portrait of the central figure of history. Yancey looks at the radical words of this itinerant Jewish carpenter and asks whether we are taking him seriously enough.
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LibraryThing member rybeewoods
What I love about Yancey is that he takes you on a journey, his journey. This book is killer, with wonderful insights into who Jesus was. Priceless.
LibraryThing member jpsnow
Philip Yancey explores several perspectives on Jesus that would benefit both Christians and non-believers. He shows the humanity and how it let God experience our lives. A dominant theme is freedom. Jesus established a kingdom of goodness from the bottom up. God wants our love, but love must by
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definition be voluntary. God gave us love and the freedom to choose him. Yancey also advocates separatism from government as the way to ensure a religion imbued with this freedom and distinction. He is skeptical of the extent to which Christian leaders pursue goverment roles and Christians advocate for policy. Yancey describes the politically charged time of Jesus' life and brings out the humanity. He conveys the messages of Jesus actions, a style that included immediately addressing issues, speaking out against hypocrisy, needing time alone to reflect and pray, and demonstrations of strength and compassion.
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LibraryThing member nesum
A fine exploration of the life of Christ with great insight into the way we see our Savior. Yancey intentionally tries to get away from our modern cultural perceptions of Christ to see things from a different angle. The result is not a "different" Jesus of course, since the truths of Christ remain
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constant despite culture, but it is a deep look at the Lord.

I would have given it five stars, but for two reasons I could not. In the first place, there were a couple of times I disagreed with Yancey. These were minor, and it probably still would have gained the fifth star with these except for the more major issue.

Even though Yancey tried to get away from our cultural views of Christ, he fell into the largest of cultural traps -- seeing Jesus only as a poor Galilean carpenter. He seems to forget the Jesus that created the world or the Jesus that will return with a sword. By only seeing Jesus in the relatively short 33 years, he loses the magnitude of Christ. The result is what seems to be a hippie Jesus. It is the Jesus that we are most familiar with in today's America, but it is an incomplete picture of Jesus. If Yancey really wanted to blow away cultural stereotypes, he would have reminded us of the Jesus who will return to claim His kingdom; he would have reminded us of the Jesus who spoke the world into being.

So he loses one star by claiming to examine Jesus, but only examining the part he was already comfortable with. A gret book nonetheless, but one that should be a suppliment to Scripture and not take the place of it.
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LibraryThing member jaygheiser
Study guide used for an adult couples Bible study in Virgina Water.

Excellent book (made lots of highlights). I think I agree very much with the author.
LibraryThing member Czrbr
Book Description: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999. Special Limited Edition featuring an excerpt from "The Bible Jesus Read." Octavo. Bright white hardcover; textured paper boards. Virtually no edge wear. Text is clean and tight.

There is an author's signature on the title page,
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but I am not sure if it's written or printed. (Special limited edition books often are signed, in my experience, but I can not guarantee this is a "real" signature.)
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LibraryThing member nmhale
Yancey is one of my favorite theological writers, and is both an accomplished writer and a man who holds views that coincide with my own faith. This book is about Jesus, with the intent of re-examining His life and work through fresh eyes, as contemporaries may have seen Him, and attempting to shed
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the many layers of religious tradition and worship and that have accumulated around His name over the centuries. Not that Yancey is disregarding Jesus' divine nature or the importance of traditions that have been established in the church; rather, Yancey's goal is to see more authentically. Sometimes it is all too easy to accept what human history has gathered and handed down to us, including accepted cultural mores and prejudices, instead of the truth that God gave us. Yancey's claim at the beginning of the book is that he will examine the gospels with a journalist's eye, trying to release preconceived notions and experience Jesus in a new way, hopefully a truer way.

What he learned falls under several broad themes of the book. One, that we have softened Jesus over time, that He was full of grace but also drew clear lines of the way to live that were even more exacting than the original law. Two, that Jesus' controversy of being divine was explosive in His time, while now, it tends to be the reverse - we are all so used to seeing him as the Son of God that it is hard to remember his man nature, which was an equally necessary part of the formula to save us. Three, that many of the issues most addressed by Jesus are underplayed in our society, while we focus on our own problems that are more superficial and that Jesus rarely addressed. We tend to ignore those sins that we all struggle against, like divorce, sexual impurity, lies and dishonesty, and emphasize our own social agendas.

While I enjoy Yancey's writing style, and agreed with his major points, this book was not as gripping as the two others that I have read by him. Perhaps none of his other books can compare to What's So Amazing About Grace, which I absolutely love. I consider this book an interesting read, and useful to further exploration and understanding of Jesus and faith, but not an essential. It didn't convict me, or reveal to me truths about the Bible that were startling and new, or make me feel that it was maturing my faith. A good read, and I am trying to read more and more about my beliefs and the Bible as I think it is important to spend part of my love of reading in service to my God, but there are other religious books out there that have more impact.
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LibraryThing member gdill
This book has helped me gain a better understanding of who Jesus really is void of any preconceived notions. I too have struggled with who exactly Jesus is. Yes, I know He is the Son of God and yes, I know He died on the cross for my sins. But, in His humanity how does He relate to me? Through this
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book, I have learned that Jesus in many ways is like me in that He was human. He endured much of the pains, the struggles, and the intricacies of being human. Because of this revelation there is no excuse in thinking God doesn't understand me. He does, because He became human... like me.

Theologically speaking I was struck by Yancey's descriptive of Jesus' last words on the cross. While He was hanging and slowly dying on the cross, Jesus cried out not to Abba, not to Father, but to God. He uses the name of God for the first time in His earthly life. This is when Jesus says, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" This is indicative of a feeling of abandonment, distance, and loneliness. For a brief moment on the cross, Jesus was left alone. Why? God turned His back upon Jesus. God cannot look upon sin and Jesus had become fully sin. He himself did not sin, but He bore the burden of the sins of the world upon Him. He was forsaken, and Jesus in His humanity did not understand why. Was this a result of all the sin that was heaped upon Him while on the cross? Probably.

Understanding Jesus in the way that I have come to understand Him through this book will help me better teach others about Christ. As a missionary to Albania, people who have been oppressed under Communism for many years will relate to the way Jesus lived under oppression. They will also relate to the way that Jesus taught true liberation, a spiritual freedom found only in Jesus Christ.
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LibraryThing member Amy.Scott
Easter was such an appropriate day to finish reading this book! Yancey doesn't shy away from mystery and apparent contradiction. He stays true to the context of Jesus' life and expands on what it all means for those of us who believe.
LibraryThing member AngeloMarcos

I thought this was a very intelligent, perceptive account of the life of Jesus.

Since childhood - in the West anyway - we've all got used to the story of Jesus, and so to see the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and all of the other aspects of Jesus' life in their historical,
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political and social context is fascinating.

Phillip Yancey is an incredible writer and, as he states himself, his background is not theology but journalism. This means he approaches subjects from a very analytical perspective, and is often brave enough to say that at certain times in Jesus’ life, he wouldn’t quite know how to act as a bystander.

This is definitely a highly recommended book, and not just for Christians, but for anybody who wants to understand more about the life of Jesus.
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LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
Very readable book, exploring the reality of the life of Jesus Christ. Cultural contexts and examination of the writings of the Gospels, in a clear and well-explained format. Not really for reading at one sitting, but definitely recommended for anyone who would like to know more about the real
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LibraryThing member dannyp777
I really feel like I've gotten to know Jesus more through this book and stripped away some of the layers of dust added by centuries of institutionalized religion and theology. I just wish I could be more like him and less like me. All I want to do half the time is hide away somewhere with a good
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LibraryThing member librisissimo
Yancey has a thoughtful approach to talking about the gospel and Jesus in very personal ways, while drawing on scriptures and Christian faith traditions to make the ministry and mission of Christ accessible to almost any reader.
LibraryThing member starbox
I began this, wondering what more could be said about Jesus? Werent we all familiar with every incident in the Bible?
It's an absolutely BRILLIANT read !
Yancey raises all kinds of questions: beginning with the Sunday school portrayal of him - a "sweet Victorian nanny" urging children to be nice.
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"But how?" he asks, "would telling people to be nice to one another get a man crucified?" How come sinners so liked to be around him- yet today often feel unwelcome in a church?
Yancey considers events in Jesus' life: the Temptation: "In the dark about the Incarnation, Satan did not know for certain whether Jesus was an ordinary man or a theophany or perhaps an angel with limited powers like himself"...he views their encounter as "single combat warriors" who "treat each other with a kind of wary respect,, like two boxers circling one another in the ring.". The Beatitudes (how can the poor be "blessed"? and the sheeer impossibility of the exhortation to "be perfect" (arent we doomed to fail?)
The miracles: Why did Jesus at Cana rebuke his mother "my time has not yet come" but then decide to turn water to wine anyway? Yancey imagines him deciding that his time HAD come- the start of his ministry, the celebrity as news of his powers got out..."A clock would start ticking that would not stop until Calvary".
And Death, Resurrection, Ascencion ("Why? Would it not have been better...if Jesus had stayed on earth?"

I think the overwhelming message that came through was FREEDOM ; God wanting us to willingly follow Him. "Consistently Jesus refused to use coercive power. He knowingly let one of his disciples betray him and then surrendered himself without protest to his captors."
Yancey ponders God's kingdom: it "has no geographical lives and grows on the inside of human beings. Those of us who follow Jesus thus possess a kind of dual external kingdom of family, cities and nationhood, while at the same time belonging to the kingdom of God."

This is just a brilliant book, and I'm going to re-read it immediately and take notes. (and I dont normally do that!) HIGHLY recommended.
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LibraryThing member eg4209
This book is excellent because it accurately describes how Jesus spoke, acted and treated others, providing an example that people can follow. It also appropriately challenges many depictions and beliefs about Jesus that aren't biblical and aren't true, even while those beliefs are treated as
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undisputed fact by many American churchgoers today.
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