A new slant on Sunday school
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Date: 26 September, 2003
on the book cover above to purchase it and raise money for Christian Aid projects
'Jesus emerges as an extraordinarily sharp-thinking,
insightful and likeable man.'
Jesus Asked, reviewed by Steve Tomkins
Conrad Gempf is a funny lecturer
but his written work was humour-free, until now
like me, you've heard and read the stories about Jesus from Sunday school - and
earlier - for several decades, it's quite an achievement for someone to shine
a new light on them and make you see them in a fresh way.
If, for example,
I hear someone read that long and repetitive story of the sheep and the goats
to remind me that Christians should care about others (which they will), I might
just exclaim 'I KNOW!' very, very quietly under my breath.
new light is exactly what pours out from Conrad Gempf's bushel here. The basic
point of Jesus Asked is that Jesus asked a phenomenal number of questions. 'There
are 67 episodes [in the gospel of Mark] in which there is any sort of conversation
at all. We have 50 questions of Jesus in those 67 episodes.'
so obvious once it's pointed out that you can't believe that this book hasn't
already been written. It makes a real difference to the way you see Jesus.
Conrad shows that rather than acting like a religious authority with a
storehouse of spiritual truth and doctrine to download into listeners'
he seems to have been more interested in getting people to think for themselves.
examines the various ways Jesus used questions, such as avoiding his opponents'
traps and springing them back them back on them, or pushing listeners to come
to conclusions for themselves that they would not have accepted from him.
fact he interprets the whole parable of the good Samaritan as answering a question
with a question. And he not only makes this old chestnut fresh and new, but makes
better sense of it than ever before.
Jesus emerges as
an extraordinarily sharp-thinking, insightful and likeable man.
almost forgot - it's also very funny. Conrad is the most
I've ever heard, and I've heard some good'uns.
When I was at London Bible
College, we used to read his articles and papers thinking, 'Now we're in for some
fun at last', only to be grievously disappointed because they were completely
scholarly and had no jokes or words like 'dudes' or 'kerpow' in them.
'If only he'd write a book like he lectures,' we cried. The Lord has heard our
cry and been merciful unto us.
If you ever have
the chance to hear the real thing live, do. But this is a very acceptable substitute. Jesus Asked by Conrad
Gempf, published by Zondervan, 2003, £7.99, 145pp