Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. April 3, 2018.
Genre: Christian nonfiction.
Elyse Fitzpatrick’s website
I have mixed feelings about this book. There are things I like about it. There are things I dislike about it. In the “My Thoughts” section, I will address these.
From the synopsis on the back cover of the book, Finding The Love Of Jesus has been written to encourage Bible reading: a passionate and positive attitude about Bible reading.
The book has been written to an audience of women. Often in the Introduction, references are made to how much, “Jesus loves women.”
Finding The Love of Jesus is shown though: “the Books of Moses,” “Israel’s Stories,” “His Songs and Sayings,” the “Prophets,” “His Law,” and concludes “in the Gospel.”
1. I didn’t know this book was explicitly directed towards an audience of women until I read the dedication page and the intro. However, I’m okay with this. I understand why some women do not feel theology is for them and that it is a masculine field of study. Although, I did not grow up this way. My parents both read the Bible and were active in Bible studies. I remember when my dad brought home a large hardcover edition of Josephus, published by Kregel, 1981 edition. Dad was almost giddy about this book. Dad loved deep study of the Bible. He spent hours during the week studying for the Sunday Bible lesson he delivered to a couples class. He loved rich discussion about the Bible. He was unafraid to tackle hard questions. So this is the atmosphere I grew up in. Later, a wonderful female professor of Old and New Testament studies in college continued to develop my love of Bible reading and study. There are women who have been deeply hurt by men, and this is a reason why they shy away from theology (especially when taught by men.) This is a good reason for Fitzpatrick to write a book with an intended audience of women.
I do feel Bethany House Publishers should have made the intended audience of the book clearer in the back cover synopsis and other publicity platforms about the book.
2. A story in Luke 24 of the two people walking on the road to Emmaus, Fitzpatrick teaches the pair was a married couple. In the Luke account, the name is spelled Cleopas. In John 19:25, the name Clopas is used to refer to, “Mary the wife of Clopas.” Cleopas is the Greek form of the name. Clopas is the Aramaic form of the name. In tradition, it is believed Cleopas was Joseph’s brother (the wife of Mary the mother of Jesus). I’ve read this account plus the notes on this account in the ESV, CSB, and NIV. The NIV Faithlife Study Bible states these were two different men. “Probably a different person from Clopas, mentioned in Jn 19:25.” From page 1709. The CSB Study Bible states Cleopas was, “possibly the husband of one of the female disciples who watched Jesus die on the cross (see Jn. 19:25.) From page 1659. The ESV Crossway Study Bible does not even comment on this idea of who Cleopas really is. The Bible scholars who wrote the explanatory notes for the three Bibles do not know with certainty the person of Cleopas. Now, what threw me for a loop is the conjecture the two people on the road to Emmaus was the married couple, Cleopas and Mary. Fitzpatrick explains in brief on page 16, “Wouldn’t it make sense then to conclude that after the crucifixion, when all their hope was gone, when they were completely dishearted and bewildered, that they would decide to return home together to try and rebuild their lives after Friday’s tragic events? On page 153 in the notes section for this book, Fitzpatrick further tries to clarify her view.
For a new Christian or a Christian who does not know Scripture, it is misleading to throw into a theology book a conjecture. Every human has their own ideas and even struggles in regards to the Bible. What is important to believe for a Christian: God’s Word is Truth.
3. On page 29, “…we need to read the Bible the way it was meant to be read-as one big love story.” I don’t quite know what to do with this comment. It sounds pretty. I do believe God has shown through Scripture His sweeping plan to redeem mankind from Sin. I believe God is love. I believe He is merciful and gracious. It is difficult to read some of the Old Testament stories with a mindset on love. For example: Judges chapter 4, the story of Jael driving a tent peg into Sisera’s temple.
4. At the end of the chapters is a section titled, “Open Heart, Open Hand.” In this location are questions for individual or group study. I’m glad nonfiction Christian books contain this section.
5. Several sections I loved in the book, especially the last chapters on the Gospel. (Included is the Gospel message in the Appendix.)
In this chapter and the next, I’m going to help you see precious truths that will enable you to understand not only what you’re reading but also how you should respond to it. As we have already learned, the Bible isn’t primarily a collection of stories about heroes we should emulate. It’s about the one Hero who draws us to love and worship him. Page 119.
This chapter ties in all the previous chapters, plus gives the two fold purposes. These purposes are “what God expects of us” and “what God has done for us.” Fitzpatrick shows in this chapter what the OT Law said and what the Gospel fulfills. This is numero important: to understand how the NT completes the OT-Christ Jesus and His work on the cross and the resurrection.
I am glad to have read this book even though I gave it an okay rating. It’s good, because it is a challenge to read and review a book I may not agree with. It’s good, because it pushed me to study a bit in order to make this review clear.