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Jesus: A Biography from a Believer.

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  237 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
The definitive life of Jesus from the bestselling author of A History of Christianity.

Few figures have had such an influence on the world as Jesus of Nazareth. Paul Johnson's brilliant and powerful reading of Jesus' life at once captures his transfiguring message and his historical complexity. With a superb historian's command of his subject, a masterly writer's love of
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sep 19, 2012 Phillip rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was more or less a prose summary of the New Testament gospels. It was if someone was given a book review of the four gospels -- I didn't really learn anything I couldn't have known if I read them myself. This was basically the Cliff's Notes version on the NT. I was a bit put off when he began the book by saying "I do not cite my authorities, though I am prepared to defend all my assertions, if challenged, by documentation." This was very Jesus 101 ... there was a lack of critical reading of ...more
Rick Wilcox
Jul 30, 2015 Rick Wilcox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I discovered Paul Johnson several years ago when I happened upon his wonderful biography of Winston Churchill and I’ve been a fan ever since. Beyond the fact that biography is my favorite literary genre, I’m most hooked on styles in homage to Plutarch’s Lives which seek to capture a person’s essence rather than their historical chronology. Not coincidentally, that was the style of the Gospel writers as well. In Paul Johnson’s case, he somehow manages to do both exceedingly well.

Johnson’s art as
I picked this book up (actually BOUGHT it, rather than got it from the library!) because I love Paul Johnson's history books. I was intrigued by the subtitle "A Biography, from a Believer". Nothing new or exciting in the first few chapters, but he did present the setting of Christ's birth and life in a helpful factual way. But when I got to the chapter about Jesus's "new" commandments, I became distressed. Johnson talks about how we are to be like Jesus and if we come close enough to his example ...more
Mark Casey
Dec 17, 2015 Mark Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I generally don't like books written about religion by believers, finding them to be less objective and less interesting than books written about religion by non-believers. So, I was a bit surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did.

I didn't learn all that much about the Christian doctrine espoused by Jesus, having soaked up tons of it at church, at Sunday school, by reading the gospels, and by reading other history books, the most illuminating ones being those that contrast religions (especia
Sep 23, 2014 Semnebune rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
În Viața lui Iisus povestită de un credincios, Paul Johnson merge pe firul biblic și pune laolaltă toate cele patru Evanghelii, care sunt bibliografia principală, dar și cronici ale vremii, spre a face o biografie a lui Iisus Hristos, de la naștere până la moarte și înviere. Istoricul ne asigură de la început că este un credincios și că cele patru Evanghelii sunt surse credibile, datate istoric, scrise la câteva decenii după întâmplări, dar nu de Apostoli, așa cum popular se crede, ci de oameni ...more
May 06, 2010 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than any other book - other than the Bible - Paul Johnson's "Jesus - A Biography From A Believer" helped me to understand the life, character, teachings, and context of the man whose life changed the course of human history. After reading this wonderfully precise and and moving work, my praise and worship for Jesus has been elevated to a whole new level. I highly recommend this book!
Karl Rove
Within just a few months, two slim, brillant volumes from a great writer. "What did Jesus teach?...The only way to grasp his teaching is to read all the Gospels repeatedly, until permeates the mind." "The Christianity he bequeathed has not been tried and failed. As G.K. Chesterton once wrote, it has been found difficult and left untried."
Apr 25, 2014 Lauree rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Johnson gave me some new thoughts to ponder about what is said in the gospels because he has studied the time period and the context of what is said about Jesus' life. For example, he knows a lot about Roman law and the officials who dealt with Jesus. He also knows a lot about the Jewish leaders and why they felt so threatened by Jesus. Based on what Jesus said and did, Johnson speculates on the personality of the man and how he was so effective. He shows how Jesus used questions to draw pe ...more
Laurel Hicks
Excellent biography by an historian. There are a few things I don't agree with, but I can recommend this book.
Sep 29, 2014 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I respect Mr. Johnson's work as an historian, though I suspect we would disagree on many theological points.

I'm not sure of the intended audience for this book. Those with a secular bent will most likely not read it or agree with any of it if they did read through it. Those with a spiritual outlook most likely have their own beliefs, theology, and commentaries to consult and therefore will not agree with much of this book either. (I'm in the latter category, in case you couldn't tell) I applaud
Jozef Kuric
Feb 25, 2014 Jozef Kuric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pozitívnou črtou tejto knihy je aj to, že text neobsahuje zbytočné teologizovanie, číta sa ľahko a asi aj preto sa mu naozaj hodí podtitul „životopis pre 21. storočie“. Tento nový životopis Krista naozaj pripomína biografiu popovej hviezdy, čo umocňuje a to, že Paul Johnson život Krista vhodne vsadil do celkového historického rámca Ježišovej doby, text je napriek svojej historickej povahe dynamický, vhodne ilustrovaný citátmi z Nového zákona, no a samotný pre väčšinu známy príbeh je dostatočne f ...more
Nov 15, 2013 Kat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
I liked this book. I mean it was okay. It was basically a refresher of the Gospels and the life of Jesus from the time God told Mary she was pregnant until the time Jesus ascended. I liked Yancey's "The Jesus I Never Knew" better because when he gave personal opinion, it was from his personal experiences. This author (Johnson) would say some things and it really made me think okay I need to read the Bible again for myself. He did some paraphrasing without citing scriptures. I did not like his "N ...more
Jeffrey Zygmont
Jul 12, 2013 Jeffrey Zygmont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This may be a difficult book for some readers who are not Christians, because author Paul Johnson accepts the divinity of Christ (as he states unambiguously in the subtitle, A Biography From a Believer). But I recommend the book to any and all readers, because it gives a perspective of Christ that you don't find elsewhere, presenting him as a walking, talking, living and breathing historical figure -- and, let's face it, considering his impact, Jesus was one of the most significant figures in al ...more
Matt Randall
May 28, 2014 Matt Randall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This certainly is not one of those audiobooks that will move you. However, it was very informative. Paul Johnson is a biographer. He started with the four gospels, researched other information on the time and atmosphere of the middle east around that time period and finished with a historical biography of the man who was Jesus. Although I grew up with all of these stories its always nice to get some background context on things that happened or simply someone else's ideas or opinions.
Dec 08, 2011 Michael rated it it was ok
Shelves: religious
This book makes some pretty bold statements about what Jesus thought, liked, etc. when Jesus made no such statements according the sources that we have. I have no problem with drawing inferences, which we have to do if we are really going to study the life of Christ, but those inferences should be stated as such and shouldn't be declared as fact. While reading this book, I just rolled my eyes at these kinds of statements and overlooked them in favor of looking for the few interesting insights th ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
My Lenten reading was going to be Paul Johnson's book, Jesus. But it turned out to be written at a 6th grade level and very simplistic. I suppose it would be useful to someone who didn't know what Christianity is all about. And come to think of it that would probably be more than half the population of the US.

Johnson counts things, like parables - so many in Mark, so many in Matthew. And miracles. And how many times Jesus told the person whom he was healing or raising from the dead that they wer
Doug May
Jun 09, 2011 Doug May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost done with an easy, pleasant and contemplative read. Johnson answers some questions that have long lingered in my mind such as Jesus' impact on the history of man. I found the answer reassuring as Johnson sees the dizzying advance in quality of life in the last two millennia as attributable to Jesus' unique perspective on an array of issues including philosophy and religion. There are gems in here for anyone even those who are very familiar with the gospels. Of course the reader should bea ...more
Rob Springer
A personal biography, really. Not as rich on details of the life and times in 1st century palestine as I was hoping for, nor as surprising with insights as his A History of the American People.
I didn't like this as much as I expected to. Paul Johnson is one of my favorite historians, so when I saw he wrote a book about one of my favorite topics, I couldn't wait to read it. But I quickly found (and this is true for the whole book) that he spent way too much time re-telling familiar stories, as opposed to offering analysis or commentary about the stories.

Don't get me wrong, there is some of that in this book, but not enough to suit my taste. This would be a great book for a new Christi
This account of Jesus's life is a re-telling of the Gospels done thematically and chronologically. There is also some historical context and occasional analysis by the author of the significance of certain events and sayings. Good overall because it helps repackage the life of Jesus in a way that my Western mind can understand more clearly than the Gospels. I do wish the author would have cited specific sources when he makes reference to things not directly mentioned in the Bible. I also wish he ...more
Jesus is relevant in my life, I am not sure how relevant he still is to other people. This book takes us through the Gospels and Jesus life and his teachings.
May 08, 2016 Glen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Johnson's work on the life of Jesus is essentially written in narrative voice with limited theological redactions. It follows closely the biblical account and openly affirms the claims of the gospels.

While much of the material may be repetitive for long-time students of Christ's life, the book is a solid introduction and does contain some interesting historical details that you would expect from such an eminent writer. I enjoyed simply seeing the life of Jesus through the eyes of a historian who
Carol Nance
Feb 29, 2016 Carol Nance rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Everyone should read it, Christian or not.
Rene Stein
Životopis, který zaujme jen renomovaným autorem.
Mohu se jen dohadovat, proč jde v podtitulu o životopis pro 21. století, protože si myslím, že stejný text by se dal napsat i pro století dvacáté nebo desáté. Když ale neznáte dobře Nový zákon, zde naleznete jeho stručný výcuc. Taková reader digest verze Ježíšova života, která je vážným konkurentem ukecané gedeonské bibli zanechané v hotelovém pokoji, protože večer díky stručnému textu stihnete v hektickém 21. století uspokojit kromě duše i další s
Audrey Henning
Oct 28, 2014 Audrey Henning rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book to read if you want a shorter version of the New Testament. I loved that this book gave you an overview of who Jesus was and what he stood for.

Would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn a little more about our Savior Jesus Christ :)
Cynthia  Scott
Extremely well organized and documented analysis of what we do know about the historical Jesus and of the message he brought.

Now, following my second reading of this book, high comes after reading Zealot and more history of biblical writings, I would say this is enjoyable but a much simplified version of Jesus history. The best part is what the author calls the ten new commandments of Jesus, which are very worthy to understand.

He claims much to be eyewitness accounts which were not.
C. Michael
Jul 01, 2013 C. Michael rated it really liked it
A great short biography of Jesus that is not burdened with scholarly apparatus. Much of the book is a retelling of the gospel story that will be familiar to many readers, but Johnson does provide some light interpretation so that the book provides more than just a restatement of facts. Early in the text Johnson adroitly sets the historical stage on which Jesus appeared. A bit light to earn a full five stars, but a fine job. Recommended.
Gary Land
In reading this book, I kept wondering who its intended audience was. Based largely on the Bible, there was little new information, which made me ask if it was intended for those unfamiliar with the New Testament. The most interesting and original chapter was one devoted to Jesus's ten new commandments. All in all, however, I was disappointed, for I had hoped to see interaction with modern scholarship.
Dana Kraft
Aug 31, 2013 Dana Kraft rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apart from any of the theological issues, this book made me think about how the way that you communicate a message has to align with the spirit of the message.

It's a tall order to add much to this subject, but the book is well written and did add a bit of perspective to the story for me.
Apr 18, 2015 Regan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church, 2012
It wasn't an overwhelmingly impressive read, but the subject and the author's clear admiration of him are appreciated. It was a succinct review of Jesus' life and perhaps Johnson's most valuable point is just how applicable the life of Jesus is for individuals and societies of our time.
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Paul Johnson works as a historian, journalist and author. He was educated at Stonyhurst School in Clitheroe, Lancashire and Magdalen College, Oxford, and first came to prominence in the 1950s as a journalist writing for, and later editing, the New Statesman magazine. He has also written for leading newspapers and magazines in Britain, the US and Europe.

Paul Johnson has published over 40 books incl
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