I just finished reading this wonderful book: Jesus, The Human Face of God. This is the review I posted on Amazon Books website.
I wish Parini’s book had been my introduction to Jesus, the Bible, and religion when I was a young adult because it makes a very important and complex subject accessible on many levels for such a short book (170 pages). Parini’s writing style is engaging, entertaining and serious all at once: personal commentary following historical analysis that is supported by scholarly references made a good read. Parini made modern sense to me of the power and myth of Jesus and confirmed some insights from many in my life experiences.
For example I often say to close friends that Jesus was a genius of metaphysical world just as Einstein was a genius of physical world. I immediately resonated with Parini’s use of “religious genius” as a description of Jesus in his preface.
This book left me wanting to read more of Parini’s work and to get to know him in depth. I had been looking for just such a book all my life when I saw his brief interview on Morning Joe. I was hooked immediately on his comments about how the meanings of key biblical words (like metanoia) had changed through their successive translations.
I thought he got the bum’s rush in his hurried interview, and that the Morning Joe TV group seemed a little uncomfortable with the topic of his book. A joke was made on the show about “reading the Greek bible, but only on weekends,” and Joe wanted to know Parini’s “conclusions” on Jesus, “man, God or both?” I yelled out loud to Joe at my TV, “Jesus is not a problem to be solved, but a person with a special genius to be experienced!”
Finally, one nit to pick. I noticed that Parini’s selective bibliography did not include Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship, even though he cited its major influence on his thinking, and it seemed to “book-end” his book both figuratively and literally (the first and last notes were Bonhoeffer references with more in between). Perhaps it was just an editorial oversight. (A recent communication with Parini confirmed that this was an accidental ommission.)