I wanted to extend my sincerest thanks to Dave Bartlett at Harvest House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to review Jesus 365: Experiencing the Four Gospels as One Single Story.
It’s the beginning of the new year and I’m looking for some new titles to add the stack of devotional books I’ll be reading in 2009. If you judge this book by its cover, you may think it’s just another harmonization of the gospels divided into 365 daily readings. That was my initial thought before I started paging through the book and came across two short appendices at the end. If you start at the end of this book, you’ll find an interesting story behind this story. Johnston Cheney spent twenty three years of his life putting together this unique representation of the gospels. Stanly Ellisen, ThD worked closely with Cheney during the last three years of Cheney’s life to bring this work to completion. Their collaborative work was originally published as The Life of Christ in Stereo by Western Seminary in 1969. This work has gone through several more printings under various names with various publishers. This current devotional edition published by Harvest House was compiled by Ed Stewart and published with the assistance of Dr. Robert Meltebeke.
Jesus 365: Experiencing the Four Gospels as One Single Story, as the subtitle indicates, weaves the four gospel accounts together into a single story. While many authors may be selective when putting together this type of harmonization, the authors claim to have given a thorough and complete treatment of the text. During the twenty three years this work was compiled, Cheney and later Ellisen validated the quality of this work using twenty English translations and the Greek text of the United Bible Society of 1966. Another point of interest for the reader is Cheney and Ellisen’s conviction that Jesus’ earthly ministry covered a period of four years rather than the traditional three. The reader should note that this directly affects the chronological organization of the text. The four year chronology is based on the assumption that five Passovers take place during Jesus’ earthly ministry. The reader will want to consult The Gospels’ Four-Year Chronology at the end of the book for a full explanation.
From days 1 through 365, each devotional reading is only a single page in length. Following the gospel text, there is either a relevant quote or some commentary. Sometimes there are both. The specific verse and chapter references for the gospel texts included in each day’s reading are noted at the bottom of the page.
If you’re like me and in the market for some additional devotional reading for the new year, I’d strongly encourage you to give this title a look. The sheer brevity of each devotional entry will make a manageable addition to your current devotional reading regimen. Before you get started with the reading for day 1, please take the time to read the introductory and background material at the front and back of the book. It will give you a better appreciation for the decades of hard work that went into putting this gospel harmonizing devotional book into your hands.
Ed Stewart, a former pastor and church curriculum editor, has been a full-time Christian writer for more than 20 years. He has authored four novels and collaborated on nearly 50 fiction and nonfiction books with Christian leaders such as Josh McDowell, Neil Anderson, Steve Arterburn, and Henry Cloud. Ed and his wife, Carol, live in western Pennsylvania.
Buy this book on Amazon: Jesus 365: Experiencing the Four Gospels as One Single Story
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