Book Review: Jesus: A 365-Day Devotional

Jesus:  A 365-Day Devotional, by Zondervan Publishing

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan Publishing.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

In order to fairly judge a book like this one, you need to have an understanding both of its genre and its intended audience.  The subtitle of the book makes it plain that this book, like many others which has come across my path, is a devotional [1].  Those who read devotionals tend to be used to a certain superficial approach to the subject matter.  Considering that this particular book is written on the ZonderKidz imprint, with an intended audience of tweens, one’s expectations would likely be even lower upon reading it.  However, this book managed to provide more scriptural insight within the devotional form than many books, especially of its genre, written for adults.  This is a book that would be immensely thought provoking as well as insightful for a great many of the older members of my Sabbath School class and some of the younger members of the teen group who used to be in my class, and would only require minimal explanations of unbiblical practices, while providing a lot of worthwhile material for young people and even material that would educate adults.

Like all devotionals, this book’s content has a particular and somewhat strict structure, albeit one that is better organized and a lot more easy to understand than most of its kind.  This somewhat lengthy book contains 365 devotionals for middle readers that are in order of the verse or passage being cited in the English-speaking Protestant versions of the Bible.  Almost all of the books of the Bible are covered, even smaller and more obscure books like Obadiah and Philemon.  By my count, I only noticed 1st and 3rd John and Jude being omitted from inclusion among the devotionals, and the contents of the devotionals roughly mirrored the distribution of material in the Bible as a whole, so there is nothing to complain about in terms of its book’s inclusion of relatively obscure material from the Hebrew scriptures, which it handles generally thoughtfully and well, finding Christological parallels where appropriate, which is certainly a more serious biblical treatment of the biblical corpus than many adult readers of such books receive.  Each of the devotionals has a title, often one that relates to the materials in the passage, a citation of one or a few verses in the Bible, a short commentary of a couple hundred words or so, often including cross references to other scriptures for follow-up Bible study, ending with a short prayer of gratitude that provides a reason to thank God that day for something in the material.

This is not to say that the book is perfect.  It uses the NIV as its textual base with all that entails, and its reference to the New Testament Passover includes grape juice and bread and not unleavened bread and wine is definitely a reflection of corrupt contemporary practice and not biblical command.  Even so, this is a phenomenal devotional.  While remaining true to its genre of being filled with brief notes full of stories, it manages to include significant biblical depth, provide thoughtful application, and give instruction and encouragement to its readers on the importance of all scripture, even unfamiliar ones.  I would be content to see devotionals like this for adults, and if half of the devotionals I read were this meaty and this full of worthwhile discussion of God’s word I would be a vastly happier reader of genre as a whole.  Reading this book, even with its occasional flaws, brought me great joy as a reader, and it will likely bring similar joy to those readers for whom it is designed and aimed.

[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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