Book Review: The Jesus Code

The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer, by O.S. Hawkins

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

This book might attract some attention of the wrong kind because of its title, which seems a bit of a tease. This book, truth be told, is not a code at all. What it is, instead, is a decent devotional [1] that asks 52 serious biblical questions from Genesis to James that the author thinks everyone should answer. Most of the questions have somewhat straightforward answers, and a lot of the answers have to deal with Jesus Christ or questions of Christian conduct and belief. Many of them are questions that I ask of my life for myself (for example: Who do you say that I am? Who can find a virtuous wife? Should such a man as I flee?), and the book spends about five pages or so with each of the questions (one for each week).

Many of the questions seem to be about a selected few themes, like moral conduct, the relationship between grace and works, and the seminal importance of Jesus Christ. The author has written a few other books, including a similar work of weekly devotionals that is equally misnamed (The Joshua Code). It would appear to me that the author wishes to capitalize on the interest in codes to draw people to a book that is straightforwardly a book of questions that demand answers and which the Bible answers in its typical combination of human effort and also divine providence. As might be expected by a competent writer with a certain taste in personal as well as societal observations, there is a lot of fairly superficial understanding about the Bible that can be gleaned from this book, and so long as one is expected a book that teases a lot more than it provides (which quite frankly, is what I tend to expect and get from many areas of life), one will not be too upset by the mostly pleasant finished product.

Nevertheless, there are a few elements that prevent this book from being a great one, and it is worth discussing them in some detail, as some of these areas are quite serious. For one, it appears as if the author makes the common (if lamentable) mistake of equating traditional American culture with the ways of God, looking back to people like George Washington as paragons of Christian faith, and not recognizing that they too had their sins (notably the hypocrisy of seeking a rebellion in order to preserve a corrupt slaveholding elite). Likewise, while the author speaks a lot about the importance of godly conduct, this conduct is remarkably free of insight concerning the ways of God that were followed by Jesus Christ that we are to emulate. This book substitutes rhyming and shallow jargony “minister” phrases and superficially conceived allegorical explanations of biblical events and symbols for a deep and thoughtful examination of the Word. Likewise, the author appears to have the Hellenistic Christian view of seeking one level of truth for a given scriptural passage rather than realizing the immensely richly layered nature that biblical truth (and the writings of other people, like me) possesses. Given these flaws, this book does not rise to the highest level, but if you’re looking for a thoughtful stab at some important biblical questions, one can do a lot worse than this modest work.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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7 Responses to Book Review: The Jesus Code

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