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The Jesus I Never Knew

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  20,357 ratings  ·  673 reviews
Philip Yancey helps reveal what two thousand years of history covered up

What happens when a respected Christian journalist decides to put his preconceptions aside and take a long look at the Jesus described in the Gospels? How does the Jesus of the New Testament compare to the new, rediscovered Jesus or even the Jesus we think we know so well?

Philip Yancey offers a new and
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 11th 2002 by Zondervan (first published 1995)
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David Chapter 7 tells us about the absolute perfection we would have to achieve to fulfill the requirements of the Law -- an impossibility. We cannot help b…moreChapter 7 tells us about the absolute perfection we would have to achieve to fulfill the requirements of the Law -- an impossibility. We cannot help but offend, hence the chapter title.

The ONLY solution is God's absolute Grace.

Now that you ask the question the opening quote from Tolstoy makes sense to me:

"The test of observance of Christ's teachings is our consciousness of our failure to attain an ideal perfection. The degree to which we draw near this perfection cannot be seen; all we can see is the extent of our deviation."(less)

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RE de Leon
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Recommended to RE by: Danny and Angie Narciso
Every now and then, a book comes along that rightfully lays claim to the feat of changing your life. And this one most certainly did. More specifically, it changed my devotional life, such that my bible reading experience has been richer ever since.

You see, I've been reading the Bible since before I even learned to read properly. So while I was very familiar with the facts of the gospel story by the time I'd read this book in 1997, I'd also grown into some very hardened preconceptions.

An example
Randall Hartman
Jul 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
It has taken me a long time to review this book because I had a hard time stomaching it - I could only read so much before I had to put it down so I could calm down - and because I wanted to let my thoughts and feelings settle a while, reconsider them, and be careful that what I am saying is truthful and not just an emotional reaction.

This review is rather long, but since it's serious and pointed, I thought it appropriate to give facts and not simply level accusations. First I'll give some bull
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-life
A very fresh look at Jesus - that is, no sign of all the preconceptions we usually have. Informative historical context, insightful commentary on our culture's interaction with the Jesus of the gospels and quite a humble writing style - Yancey seems willing to let Jesus speak to himself, and thus to his readers. So many efforts are made to reinvent Jesus, but Jesus cannot & need not be reinvented - we just need to make the effort to come to grips with him. ...more
Feb 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Jesus
Once again I enjoyed Yancey's thorough journalistic style combined with his ability to clearly communicate his opinion. However, I felt Yancey was talking above my knowledge on this one. My understanding and awareness of Jesus-including familiarity with Biblical history-remains at an elementary level, so many of the events and passages Yancey refers to are not crystal clear to me. In response to this I know that I need to read and study the Gospels soon. Even though I found myself tripping over ...more
Cindy Marsch
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5-star-reviews
I've been reading Philip Yancey since I thought of him and Stephen Lawhead as my wise older brothers or youth leaders when they wrote for Campus Life magazine in the 1970s. Yancey's work on prayer has been an occasional dip-in-and-contemplate book in my nightstand, and I love his friendly style and devotional approach to the things he writes about. He's solid on the fundamentals of the faith but openly curious beyond that.

This title fulfilled all my hopes and I enjoyed a couple of months of bedt
Eliza Bordea
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Now this is a book that simply leaves you speechless. Its deep, clear, inspired message disarms you, and pulls away any sort of misconception you may have over The One who claims to be The Son of God.
I just feel that my words to describe this book would somehow harm what this book really is, so one must read it in order to have a correct perception over it.
Not once, but so often, did I have to close it and stare at the walls, while the shockingly simple things I got to understand, stirred an a
David Dennington
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve just finished THE JESUS I NEVER KNEW by Philip Yancey. I do not read many religious books. I cannot really answer why that is. I did read SEEKING ALLAH, FINDING JESUS recently, and I enjoyed that. In that book I read that the author after extensive research and receiving visions, became a Christian. I found it interesting that he told of how Muslims around the world are receiving visions of Jesus.

THE JESUS I NEVER KNEW educated me about a lot that is in the New Testament. But of course, I a
Ben Byler
Jul 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Throughout my time reading this book, I was overjoyed to finally see a Christian author talk about Christ. For too often I found Christian authors talk about "God," but make him whatever they want him to be. The Jesus of the Gospels, however, proves very hard to limit or fit into our agendas. And he's very different from the Jesus people see from hypocritical Christians.

Jesus is amazing.

However, as much as I enjoyed this book and was about to give it 5 stars, one chapter startled me and left me
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must read. I have attended church my entire life and this book completely changed the way I view Jesus, in a good way. It made me realize how much more amazing Jesus is. It took me a long time to finish the book because I kept going back and re-reading the chapters because it was just that good. I highly recommend this book.
JS Nelson
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
When it come to nonfiction, I love honest authors that are willing to spill their doubts & questions & seek the answers from every angle instead of echoing pat answers that have no personal meaning for them. This book did just that.
Dave  Johnson
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
a few weeks ago, i had a dream that profoundly impacted my book reading. without going into details, i was left with a desire to read about Jesus, a desire to know Jesus better. i had this book on my bookshelf already; i picked it up at a thrift store for a dollar, since i'll buy pretty much any book that looks half decent at a thrift store. i hadnt read anything about Phillip Yancey. i knew very little about him, other than his name is huge in the Christian book market. so i picked up the book. ...more
Mar 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I really did like this book, so why only three stars? It was good, but I didn't really walk away with anything new or profound, which I suppose is a good and comforting thing. I enjoyed studying who Christ was on Earth, getting to know how he acted and talked with other people. I loved his references to other authors like Tolstoy, CS Lewis, Flannery O'Connor, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, and others.

Perhaps the thing I enjoyed the most, which is odd, is how honest Yancey is about his thoughts and wha
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Philip Yancey's writing. There was nothing here that was particularly revealing or new information about Jesus, but the author seems to have a way of writing that gets your mind engaged and thinking about the topic in different ways. I'd definitely recommend this one. ...more
Jul 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Book that seeks to discover Jesus in time and history--to observe him as he traveled and taught and ask: who Jesus was, why he came, and what he left behind complete with dusty details and descriptions that bite into what it was like to experience pursuit of God and pain, friendship and a fan-following in Galilee.

Following are my lessons learned
Why God does not force belief or display His power--
Goodness cannot be imposed externally, but most grow internally, bottom up. God’s power is internal,
Klaus Nielsen
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simply the best book about Jesus I have ever read
Jim Keating
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A deep read. Every sentence was powerful. Highly suggest reading this book. We studied over several sessions with a small study group.
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Favorite quotes from the book:

"Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love,..."

"Dependence, humility, simplicity, cooperation, and a sense of abandon are qualities greatly prized in the spiritual life, but exremely elusive for people who live in comfort. In the Great Reversal of God's kingdom, prosperous saints are very rare."

"The real goal, King (Martin Luther King Jr.) used to say, was not to defeat the white man, but "to awaken a sense of shame within the oppre
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2012
This is an outstanding book. Philip Yancey reflects on our preconceived inklings of Jesus and how his own perception of jesus changed through his life. It made me reflect on my own understanding. One of my top favorite christian books. My favorite quote (well, one of them) :
"Why am I a Christian? I sometimes ask myself, and to be perfectly honest the reasons reduce to two: (1) the lack of good alternatives, (2) Jesus. Brilliant, untamed, tender, creative, slippery, irreducible, paradoxically hum
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was Book of the Year when it was released 20 years ago, and I can see why. It promises a fresh look at the life of Jesus without pretense, and it delivers. Certain chapters, such as chapter 13 on the Kingdom of God, are just as relevant today as in 1995. I don't agree with Yancey on everything, but I do like the honest, human way in which he approaches the Bible and the Lord. I highly recommend this book. ...more
Sheila Myers
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
A good read for all Christians. Although I know a lot about Jesus, some of the information taught me even more. I loved the way Yancey wrote much of the book by looking at the events as if he were living during that time instead of from a current viewpoint and looking back on the events and already knowing the outcome.
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: religiosity
Let me just say that I am so grateful for revealed truths and continuing revelation. Enough said.
Anna H.
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a remarkable book. It was recommended to me by a friend, who told me it was so powerful she had to put it down every few pages to take it all in. Initially, I was skeptical- How powerful could it possibly be?- and then I read it. I have read a lot of "Christian" books, on subjects from apologetics to worldview to theology, but never one like this- a Christian book about Christ. The Jesus I Never Knew was like a cold mountain stream, washing from me, as Yancey puts it, the "layers of dust ...more
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: morning-coffee
I had this book on my shelf for a number of years but had put off reading it because I thought of Philip Yancey, the author, as primarily a religious fundamentalist/Evangelical writer. Why I had purchased the book in the first place, I do not remember, but when finally getting around to reading it, I was pleasantly surprised. Yancey admits to his deeply fundamentalist upbringing and is candid and humorous at times about his struggles with these beliefs throughout his life. The title, The Jesus I ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-living, own
I have danced around this book for years. I would pick it up and start the first few pages and then put it down. The beginning didn’t really grip me very much. I got to seminary and thought that I was above popular level works such as this. Then I got into ministry and realized the arrogance of my former opinion. Besides that, it wasn’t really fair to Yancey.

He writes clearly and in an easy manner, but his writing is anything fluff. He engages with scholars from across history and the denominat
Seth Norris
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is this huge danger for those like me who have heard of this Christianity thing from the womb. Growing up and seeing Jesus in colorful robes on the flannel graphs and with a cheerful smile on His face in paintings subtly distances us from the radical nature of His teachings. In this excellent book, Yancey assumes nothing about Jesus and chooses not to lighten the heaviness of Christ’s teachings. He wrestles with intense calls for righteousness in the Sermon on the Mount in one chapter and ...more
Keith Madsen
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While this book is an older one (1995) it maintains its relevance for today. Yancey maintains that the "Jesus" that he (and others in our country) had been taught as a child bears little resemblance to the Jesus of Scripture. The Jesus of our culture has been "civilized" and reshaped into the mold of American culture. Yancey affirms what Dorothy Sayers said, that the church has "very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and p ...more
Faith Neece
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. Yancey explores the ways in which the church has tamed Jesus and distorted who he is. We must understand who Jesus is according to the Gospel and history, not according to our own biases. We can't look at Jesus based on who we want him to be. Yancey is an eloquent writer who always emphasized grace and his own humility. This book will change the way you look at Jesus. I highly recommend it! ...more
Matt Young
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this at the recommendation of a good friend who said it was life-changing. I don't think he's wrong.

I've learned about Jesus for my whole life, but this book challenged many of my assumptions about who He was and is. Philip Yancy showed me a Jesus who is "brilliant, untamed, tender, creative, slippery, irreducible, paradoxically humble." Many of the author's assertions rang true with me. Would recommend for members of any church who want to know Jesus better.
Zane Feemster
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yancey gives a refreshing and clear look into who Jesus really was and the life he lived while on earth. Going scene by scene through his life, the reader walks away challenged and convicted about the message Jesus taught. Highly recommend.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yancey wrote at a very personal raw level in this book which immediately drew me in and helped me relate. As someone who has been in church all my life, I so appreciated the jolt out of my story book image of Jesus and into the Jesus who changed the world, including His immediate Jewish world, in such a radical way. So many exquisitely written truths about Jesus in this book that I will refer to again.
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A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Philip Yancey earned graduate degrees in Communications and English from Wheaton College Graduate School and the University of Chicago. He joined the staff of Campus Life Magazine in 1971, and worked there as Editor and then Publisher. He looks on those years with gratitude, because teenagers are demanding readers, and writing for them taught him a lasting principle: ...more

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“Power, no matter how well-intentioned, tends to cause suffering. Love, being vulnerable, absorbs it. In a point of convergence on a hill called Calvary, God renounced the one for the sake of the other.” 113 likes
“Thunderously, inarguably, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace.” 41 likes
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