Chapter 3 continues with the creation accounts just as chapter 2 did before. This time however far more attention is given to the Genesis 2 account of the creation of the Garden and Adam and Eve. Sweet and Viola do a fantastic job of sketching out a sense of life in the Garden. They do a great job focusing on the intermixing of vocation and vacation as something of an original intent for creation…and especially for humanity.
Something that I really appreciate is that they give a great sense of what was intended for creation and what was lost in the fall. It seems to me that if we are going to talk seriously about who Jesus is and what it is that he means then we must take seriously why we need him. In the fall we lost something, we lost that original intent to be people called to the tasks of conceiving and conservation. Or to put it another way…to be fruitful and multiply and to work and till the garden.
I found especially helpful their discussion of what was lost in the fall. I’ve often taught that creation was a place, as originally intended by God, of profound harmony. In the fall that harmony was lost and in its place was chaos. In a similar vein Sweet and Viola talk about the four things that we lost or wound up broken: 1) relationship between ourselves and God, 2) relationship between ourselves and creation, 3) relationship between one another, and 4) relationship with even ourselves.
At this time I want to offer my first over arching criticism and my first over arching praise of this book. As to criticism…Jesus: A Theography is billed as being a serious book but aimed at a more popular audience. I really appreciate this. I’ve been aware for some time now about a lack of serious books written on a popular level for the average person in the pew. It seems that so much of what is out there is of poor quality. While I appreciate their effort in this regard I’m not sure, at least at this point, if they have accomplished their goal of writing for the average pew sitter. (And I might be missing their goal here and if so I apologize) I like to think of myself as being sensitive to what the average pew sitter will read…and please understand me I’m not trying to sell them short or talk down to them…but I think this is a bit above that level. (though if I’m wrong please let me know) This isn’t a book for specialists either. You don’t have to be a scholar or a pastor to get this one. I’d say that it’s somewhere between the specialist level and the popular level.
And to close now with a praise…if you are a preacher or a bible teacher you really must get this book! It will simply make your imagination explode…with almost every page I come up with new sermon ideas or Bible studies…or at the very least with an illustration or a new connection I had simply never considered. So…bottom line, if you preach or teach in the church then this book needs to be on your shelf…no, check that, in your hand. Read it and re-read it…you owe it to your calling and to those you are called to shepherd.