Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Jesus: The Human Face of God (Icons)” as Want to Read:
Jesus: The Human Face of God (Icons)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Jesus: The Human Face of God (Icons)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  190 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Jay Parini brings a life’s worth of contemplation on Jesus to the first volume in ICONS, a series of brief, thought-provoking biographies edited by James Atlas. In Jesus, Parini turns the powerful narrative skill he’s wielded over the course of a four-decade career to a figure who’s dominated our collective imagination and cultural iconography for over twenty centuries.

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published December 3rd 2013 by New Harvest (first published June 4th 2013)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Jesus, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Jesus

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 526)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sara Nelson
Skeptics--religious and otherwise--will surely ask what more could possibly be said about Jesus, who has been mythologized, de-mythologized, re-mythologized and then some over twenty centuries. While novelist and professor Jay Parini hardly breaks new ground with this erudite yet accessible Jesus: The Human Face of God--the first in a series of short biographies known as the ICON series--he manages, in less than 200 pages, to raise and examine the most important questions about the founder of C ...more
In his preface Parini quotes from the Gospel of Thomas, one of the Gnostic Gospels discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945:
"If you are searching
You must not stop until you find.
When you find however,
You will become troubled.
Your confusion will give way to wonder.
In wonder you will reign over all things.
Your sovereignty will be your rest."

This is a book for those who believe that one is "not saved by simply checking off the boxes in a code of dogmatic beliefs". Parini humanizes Jesus a
Parini, a poet and novelist who has written of the lives of Leo Tolstoy and Herman Melville, says in his preface that he is writing a biography of Jesus, not a theological tract. This biography, he emphasizes, shades into the symbolic and mystical, reflecting the personal opinion that he has formed of the meaning of Christ’s life.

He adds that the gospels, both canonical and Gnostic, as well as Paul and other early writers, provide no coherent narrative thread to follow, but rather “various wind
Andrew Kaufman
What do you get when a gifted novelist, literary critic, and generous teacher tackles the most central and controversial figure in the history of Western civilization? You get Jay Parini’s Jesus: The Human Face of God, a fascinating biography that is as inspiring as it is informative.

For those readers who already know the story of Jesus well, Parini re-imagines it through a rich kaleidoscope of secular and religious sources, ensuring that you will notice things you hadn’t before. For those less
Nicholas Spengler
See Parini's interview with NPR's Tom Ashbrook's On Point (12/17/13 air date):

Feb 22, 2014 Jeff rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anybody wanting an understanding of the differing views people take on who Jesus Christ is)
Jesus Christ is sort of what the Bible says. That pretty much encapsulates Jesus, the Human Face of God. In this book, Jay Parini uses the Bible text as a core to explain the life of Jesus, but he does allow extra-biblical "gospels" and more liberal theologians to round out his "biography" of Jesus.

In no way does Mr. Parini assent to Jesus as a member of the Godhead. He allows the belief that Jesus performed great miracles (though he leaves room for those who would believe that a person's faith
Matthew Hundley
Even as a Jesus follower the search for Christ never ends. Sometimes we pour over theological tomes seeking enlightenment. At other times we wander through writings of those seeking the Christ of history. And at other moments we throw our arms in the air shirking off the academic enterprise and embracing the Jesus of myth and mystery. In "Jesus: The Human Face of God," Jay Parini pulls us into his seeking of Christ. While he embraces the resurrection, the mysteries of Christ, the literal nature ...more
I expected a lot more from the book.
"If you are searching
You must not stop until you find.
When you find however,
You will become troubled.
Your confusion will give way to wonder.
In wonder you will reign over all things.
Your sovereignty will be your rest."
Gospel of Thomas

Every Lent, I try to read a book to enhance my understanding of Jesus and his teachings. This year’s book was Jay Parini’s Jesus The Human Face of God which he calls a “biography of Jesus rather than a theological tract.” Backed by extensive research, Parini walks wi
This small (150 pages or so) book is appealing because Jay Parini, a scholar of literature who is also a Christian, sets out to explain why Jesus and his teachings remain so compelling, even radical. While the book relies on Parini's wide reading of commentators on Jesus and the New Testament, historical and theological background is not the book's focus. (The last chapter does give an overview of Biblical scholarship over the last two hundred years.) Instead, he explains the key ideas of Jesus' ...more
I've been reading a lot of New Paradigm theology the past few years, of which Marcus Borg is a leader. This has brought a new fresh perspective to my religious experience; however, at times it feels like Jesus has been "demythologized" Jesus. Parini's focus here is to provide a new biographic view of Christ with the goal of "re-mythologizing" him. I think he did a great job of that. His view is that the focus on what Jesus the person said or did is as much a literalism as is fundamental Christia ...more
Laurel Valenti
This is a powerful, moving biography of Jesus. The author, Jay Parini, is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury. He has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and contributes articles to periodicals, CNN and The New York Times among others. I enjoy his writing immensely. It is erudite without being pompous or dry. Dr. Parini places the story of Jesus in its physical location in the Middle East, in historical, spiritual and mythological contexts for us, but also notes that ...more
Jay Parini's "Jesus the Human Face of God" is a well-researched, well-written outlook on the life of Jesus. Granted, there really wasn't anything new that I hadn't read previously in other works, but the author's writing style does make the information and ideas more 'user-friendly' and easier to read. It doesn't read like standard theological scholarship faire, with all the complex concepts and jargon, rather it is accessible and more creative than most. I would recommend this work to those wh ...more
I finished this little gem today. I don't remember how I found it, but, it piqued my interest when I saw it. Though it weighs in at only 192 pages it was well thought out. It gave me quite a bit to consider as I continue this journey in Christ. I think the biggest thing I got out of it was that no matter what denomination, or larger Christian movement we are in, I don't think we have it as figured out as we think sometimes. It seems as though we want to put Christ in this little box that contain ...more
Just picked this off the New Book Shelf at the library, intrigued by the title during this period of my Jesus Research. Parini is a thoughtful author, and he appears to have written a lot of good books, both non-fiaction and fiction. This was very readable, with interesting facts about Jesus popping up, and some interesting perspectives (he is a believer who acknowledges there are many myths in the story).
Strange. Parini weaves an ahistorical and inexplicable continuous narrative from the four Gospels, even where they have significant differences and contradictions. It's totally unclear what criteria he uses for including some stories in his narrative and excluding others. When dealing with the supernatural, he typically abandons any considerations of reason and resorts to mysticism that is incomprehensible to the non-believer. The final chapter is a weak dismissal of the Historical Jesus movemen ...more
Read this awesome account of Jesus's life. It combines Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's versions of the life of Christ, detailing the political situation and Jesus's interactions with each one. Patrilineal also details why Jesus was eventually maligned against and eventually crucified .
Parini's book looks at both the historical and spiritual aspects of Jesus' life. I especially liked his take on the lessons taught through parables. Nicely written- I would like to read more of his "Icons."
Mr Salyer
Parini's writing is both clarifying historically and enlightening philosophically. He does a great job of addressing the hisorical criticisms of Jesus as the Son of God, making the case for true believers. Great pacing, a good read for students of both history and/or religion.

Short enough to hold my attention and thorough enough to add historical and spiritual perspective to what I already know and believe and to stretch my understanding just enough.
I liked it. I stumbled on the book accidentally, liked how it sounded, and was not disappointed by it. I'd like to read it again. I didn't really think the author had any particular axe to grind, it was more of a "here's what we know, here's what seems reasonable, do with it what you will" approach to the life and teachings and followings of Jesus, the Son of God.
This is an interesting book. At one level, the writer literally interprets and meshes the stories of the gospels. On another level, he includes some fairly radical interpretations of Christ and also incudes many poetic visions. I don't really think I liked it all that much because I've read a lot of this sort of thing, but I've read worse.
Adam Shields
Short Review: A biography of Jesus that tries to 're-mythologize' Jesus. But mostly just repeats traditional liberal theology. I am not opposed to reading liberal theology because I intentionally try to read outside my tradition regularly. But there was just nothing here that was engaging or new or helpful. I read about 70% of the book and then my Kindle Unlimited subscription ended and I had no desire to buy the book and finish it.

My full review is on my blog at
A short biography of Jesus by the author who wrote The Last Station. I think this is a worthy endeavor from a writer who does not claim to be a religious scholar. Parini speaks of his understanding of Christ as one that is still evolving, which is refreshing. This is great for those who are new to Christianity, or simply curious.
Aaron Wong
Parini, J. (2013). Jesus: The human face of God. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

A scholarly look at the authenticity, divinity, and influence of Jesus, which goes in-depth to the origin of scripture as we know it.
I didn't see very much "new" here.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

This was a very difficult book at the beginning the author uses many words that the ordinary reader will either have to stop and look them up or guess the meaning. He is a bit too technical in the beginning which makes for slow, boring reading.

It gets somewhat better during the story telling of Jesus' life but still contains unusual vocabulary. Also, he seems to think his opinion is the truth and there are several things he lists as fac
Emmanuel Danso
A Literary Commentary of Jesus' Portrait

It's a good read for getting broader perspective about the historicity of Jesus Christ. I recommend it for those seeking to know more about the historical Jesus a little more beyond what the four gospels offer.
A wonderful book to read during Easter week.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey
  • Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality
  • Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic
  • NIV Once-A-Day 31 Days of Wisdom
  • Unfinished: Believing Is Only the Beginning
  • Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape
  • Million Dollar Outlines
  • The Force Is Middling in This One: And Other Ruminations from the Outskirts of the Empire
  • Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age
  • Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln
  • Max on Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions
  • The Good Life: Seeking Purpose, Meaning, and Truth in Your Life
  • Several Short Sentences About Writing
  • In the Bedroom: Seven Stories
  • Reagan: The Life
  • Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants
  • You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child
  • Dante in Love
Jay Parini (born 1948) is an American writer and academic. He is known for novels and poetry, biography and criticism.
More about Jay Parini...
The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year Robert Frost: A Life Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner The Passages of H. M.: A Novel of Herman Melville

Share This Book

“This is my commandment,” Jesus said, putting before us a single ideal, “That you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). The simplicity and force of this statement take away the breath.” 1 likes
More quotes…