A new slant on Sunday school
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Date: 26 September, 2003

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'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

If, 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.

Yet fresh 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.'

It's 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'
laptops, he seems to have been more interested in getting people to think for themselves.

Conrad 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.

In 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.

I almost forgot - it's also very funny. Conrad is the most
entertaining lecturer 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