Review of The Jesus We Missed by Patrick Henry Reardon

Thomas Nelson publishers sent me a copy of Patrick Henry Reardon’s new book, The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth about the Humanity of Christ, for review.  I was not required to give a positive review.

Patrick Henry Reardon has written a book that lightly embraces the idea of a historical reconstruction of Jesus’ life without deviating from orthodox Christian belief. He states in the introduction that nothing he states in the book should be construed as contradicting the great creeds of the church about the nature of Jesus as 100% human and 100% divine.

Rather than contradicting the creeds, Reardon examines what that 100% humanity consisted of. He does historical work, arguing for hypothetical sources for various traditions within the New Testament. In particular, he highlights the role that Jesus’s mother Mary may have placed as a chronicler of his life.

The result is a very comfortable, comforting work for Christians. I found the work enjoyable to read, but unchallenging, in much the same way that Rich Mullins’s music characterized Jesus’ life. Where Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew did much the same work, Yancey seemed to feel he was writing rebellious, seditious material. Reardon’s writing doesn’t feel that way; it feels affectionate. The picture of Jesus he paints is the kind of man we would mostly enjoy being around.

Reardon arranges the material roughly chronologically, following along with a conflated gospel account. As such, I would recommend the book as an introduction to the gospels or a commentary on them. I would also recommend the book to reflective Christians with a slight intellectual bent. The strength of Reardon’s analysis for me is probably his focus on how Jesus read the Old Testament and developed his self-understanding from it. Jesus read of the suffering servant in Isaiah, for instance, found his identity there, and followed it.

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