Jesus: Then and Now, His life, teaching and relevance today, by David Watson and Simon Jenkins ( Lion Books in
association with Leila Productions, £6.95, special introductory offer £5.95 until 31st. May, 1983).
I HAVE JUST listened to an. intensely moving radio interview For a few minutes afterwards I could only reflect on the subject — Death — and the speaker David Watson.
Beside me is this striking, beautifully produced book which, for the moment seemed relatively unimportant. It is, in fact highly important for it sets out with compelling clarity the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, who he was and what he means for all the world today.
The author, David Watson, Canon Provincial of York, is well known beyond his own church through extensive teaching, preaching and writing. And in that broadcast I mentioned he gave steady, almost poignant testimony to his faith at a time of testing. For the author has been seriously ill, and wrapped around by the prayers of many Christians. He was being interviewed about his attitude to death — an event which, by ordinary medical judgement, could be facing him quite soon. It seemed impossible not to feel that when God does require his soul of him it will be for mighty good reasons. For
here is a teacher of no ordinary quality.
The book is a companion to a series of video programmes prepared by David Watson with Simon Jenkins.
As a modern introduction to Christianity, the enterprise must be unique in its very comprehensiveness, combined with factual precision and textual quotation. The author came to the task with a shining conviction which has long governed his life and thought. His deep background study removes any notion of faith "easily come by". In fact at one time he had none.
Watson's introduction to the book strikes the triumphantly sure note for which many modern hope-hungry pilgrims yearn.
"Not only has Jesus Christ changed the entire course of my life," he declares, "but also I have become increasingly over the years convinced of the integrity of the evidence surrounding him..."
Through beautiful modern photographs and inspired selection from words and actions of Christ, among which are woven the sort of questions most human beings ask, the book brings us near to the heart of the New Testament while keeping us firmly in our here and now. Somehow into the skilled lay-out of the pages is found room for commentary on modern martyrs, eg. Archbishop Romero, Martin Luther King.
Commentary on sin, illness and healing are included in the text.... even a page on New Testament manuscripts with a small photographed excerpt. The whole thing is alive.
One could talk much more about this remarkable specimen of modern technique so lovingly used for evangelisation — which cannot fail to hold the interest because it rings true.
I cannot imagine any Christian family — in fact any family interested in any religion — who would not be glad to have bought it. That makes a fair number!