Jesus The King: Understanding The Life And Death Of The Son Of God, by Timothy Keller
Reviewing this book gives me an opportunity to engage in one of my favorite rants regarding publishing. If this book is viewed in isolation, it is a perfectly fine book. However, this volume also happens to be a nearly identical version of a previous book, titled King’s Cross. Admittedly, this book has a catchier title that is probably better for sales, but having gotten both books from the library since it was not clear that they were, in fact identical, I felt rather ripped off even having requested them both from the library. I would have felt even more ripped off had I paid money for this sort of thing. I should note that C.S. Lewis, a man both the author and I deeply admire, was deeply concerned about readers not being asked to put out money twice for the same material, and the fact that this book was done (likely with the author’s permission) suggests that the author is more on the lines of a John Maxwell than a C.S. Lewis with this particular offering. And that is a great shame. No one should want their book marketing practices to mirror John Maxwell’s.
Since the structure of this book is identical to its previous volume, I will copy what I said here, with a note that there are more pages here because the paperback is smaller in size, being about 250 pages in length. As I mentioned earlier,”The first nine chapters of the book focus on Jesus Christ as the king (I), and the second nine chapters look at the cross and its looming presence over the second part of the Gospel of Mark (II). We have chapters about the dance of faith (1), the call to follow Christ (2), miracles of healing (3), and Jesus’ search for rest in the face of continual activity (4). After that we look at the power of Christ and how it was manifest in the world (5), the waiting for God to act (6), the stain of contact with sinners and the ill (7), the approach of the Canaanite woman to Jesus to obtain healing for her daughter (8), and the turn of Jesus towards Jerusalem and death (9). The second half of the book continues with discussions of Jesus on the mountain (10), the trap that his enemies sought for Him (11), the ransom that He paid for us (12), and his experiences in the temple (13). Finally, the book concludes with the promised Feast of the Passover (14), the cup of wrath that staggered Him in the garden (15), the sword of punishment He faced (16) as well as His crucifixion (17) and resurrection (18).”
If you have not read King’s Cross, I would recommend this book as a worthwhile book to read. There is another book that is associated with this one that is a study guide for this book that helps readers (and small groups) deal with the material in the book of Mark by asking some thought-provoking question as is often the case. This book, though, seems like a bit of a cash grab, and that is regrettable. I’m not sure how much of this was done with the author’s intention. There look to be some minor tweaks with the text, but nothing that would suggest a wholesale revision of it. Was this change forced upon the author by the publisher who was concerned that this book did not sell as well as the author’s other books, which are generally bestsellers, or did the author push for the change himself? Again, viewed in isolation this book is a perfectly fine discussion of the Gospel of Mark that is well worth reading, but there is a high chance of this book being confused for something new when it is not, though admittedly one can tell if one reads the small print at the bottom of the front cover rather than looking up the book online as I did.