David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards, Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ (Downers Grove: IVP, 2015), 272 pages, ISBN 9780830824724.
When Jesus poses the question, “who do you say that I am?” he receives an array of answers from his disciples (Mark 8:27-28). Today, responses to this inquiry remain legion. Enter David Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards (CRR). Finally, they have the answer! In roughly 250 pages, they promise “an introduction to Jesus that guides us [their readers] on our pilgrimage toward seeing Jesus truly” (back cover). CRR title the final chapter of their book “Our Jesus,” their synopsis of the Jesus they hope their readers will (re)discover.
In this review, I offer my own questions. Are the tour guides reliable? Did they guide us well? Are they worth the money? Have they led us to the “true Jesus”? In short, I think so. I find much to appreciate in this work. For the most part, “their Jesus” resonates well with “my Jesus.” And since I am also a tour guide of sorts (I teach New Testament Literature, Gospels, New Testament Theology, Luke-Acts), surely I lead people on a journey to the true Jesus. At the same time, though we share much in common concerning our Jesus, I must address a methodological concern and a few alternate paths.
First, these guides bring solid credentials and experience. Capes, Reeves, and Richards serve as New Testament (NT) professors at their respective institutions (Houston Baptist University, Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO, and Palm Beach Atlantic University). They have a solid history of scholarly work in their discipline including an earlier shared work titled Rediscovering Paul and various publications as individual authors. Given their credentials, I turn to the current work.
In part one, the authors walk their readers through the NT and pose Jesus’ question to each NT writer. They begin with Mark, who announces that Jesus is a healer, an exorcist, and miracle worker in a hurry to get to the cross. His Jesus is an average teacher, often difficult to understand, and a bull in a china shop, repeatedly under the skin of the religious leaders. Matthew’s Jesus provides answers to Jewish questions about messianic expectation. His Jesus has an impressive pedigree, speaks with confidence and courage, and offers not only aggressive answers to ongoing questions on Mosaic Law, but fills the role of a new and better Moses. Luke’s Jesus takes his disciples on a long journey of discipleship (compare Mark’s Jesus); the Third Gospel’s Jesus turns the world upside down as a first-century social advocate for the poor, the downtrodden, women, and children all the while preparing his disciples for a similar future ministry. Then there is John’s Jesus. His Jesus produces signs and speaks with clear self-awareness and confidence about his relationship to God.