Know the Real Jesus
Alexander Venter

I pIcked up a copy of Know the Real Jesus because I’ve read most of Alexander Venter’s work and because I’ve found historical Jesus research interesting and at times enriching to engage with. Anything that helps us get a clearer picture of Jesus is something I’m interested in!

Historical Jesus research is a broad scholarly stream and I was curious to see if this book would serve as a helpful introduction to some of it’s insights. I knew Alexander would be sticking to the vein of the tradition that reinforced, rather than undermined the historically held picture of Jesus (a hunch that proved accurate), and so I was curious to see if this would be a helpful book to give to people who wanted an introduction to this body of scholarship. My takeaway is that it is.

At the beginning, Venter offers a few thoughts and insights about the research stream and the value of historical Jesus research, and then the main body of Know the Real Jesus traces the arc of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection as it is outlined in the gospel accounts, whlie Venter adds insights and perspectives from the scholarship along the way. Having engaged this content a fair bit I wasn’t stunned by much, but that probably means it is a good introductory resource.

What I really love about this book is not just that it does the scholarship justice (which in my opinion I think it does), but that what comes through the book even more than that is Venter’s love for Jesus. You can tell this isn’t an academic exercise for him; this is a way of knowing the Jesus he follows more deeply and personally. His call to us is more prophetic than it is academic: these are tools we can use to know Jesus better and walk with him more closely. As a pastor, this is the heart I could only wish a book like this would have! I’m deeply grateful for Venter’s contribution to the body of Christ in this book.

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