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The new book from Axios Press, The Words of Jesus, strips away everything but the essence of Jesus' thought and lets the reader go right to the heart of His teachings. It presents every one of Jesus' words, as recorded in the New Testament -- and only His words, without the intervening stories and other dialogue.
Now, for the first time, every saying and parable is allowed to stand on its own, without comment, without adornment. Presented in this way, Jesus' words are fresh, immediate -- and unmistakable. The Words of Jesus is startling in its simplicity.
It's a new way to study Jesus' teachings. It lets the reader really contemplate Jesus' words -- words heard over and over in one particular context -- but now without the benefit (or the burden!) of familiarity. It brings one face-to-face with a Jesus one may never have encountered before.
The book is arranged in three sections.
Part I offers a selection of particularly well-known sayings from all four gospels, and presents them as a kind of dramatic monologue. They are grouped together under general subject headings -- "The Moral Life," "Redemption and the Forgiveness of Sins," "Temptation and False Prophets," and so forth. This creates a topical arrangement that is particularly useful for research or devotional study.
Part II presents additional sayings that are not quite so often quoted but are still vital to our understanding of Jesus' teachings. This time, however, the sayings are presented in the order in which they occur in the four gospels and the book of Acts.
Part III is the showpiece of the book. It presents every single word Jesus spoke, as recorded in the New Testament, and arranges them in chronological order (so far as chronology can be determined). In addition, we have provided a brief annotation in the margin to set the context. This way, it follows the story of Jesus' life more closely than a random collection of sayings.
Another valuable feature of this arrangement is that it groups together different gospel accounts of similar sayings. In other words, where the same thought is expressed by both Matthew and Luke, for example, they immediately follow one another so they can be compared easily. Presented in this way, the similarities between each evangelist's treatment of the same material -- and their often telling differences -- become all the more striking and powerful. And it's so much easier than reading the gospels with a bulky concordance in hand!
Regardless of whether the reader wishes to consult the best known sayings or to read every word Jesus spoke, The Words of Jesus is in no sense meant to substitute for the gospels themselves. In fact, we believe it will lead readers back again and again to the gospel narratives, to place the passages in their full context.
The book the King James Version of the text. Using this venerated translation allows us to acknowledge the place and presence of tradition, while avoiding some of the divisiveness and rancor that some newer translations of the Bible have evoked. Despite the passage of time, the words are clear, readable, and understandable. And the magnificent poetry of the language is all the more powerful when Jesus' sayings are presented so succinctly.
Scholars will be happy to note that every saying is completely cited, which makes it easy to compare this version with other translations. Yet the citations never intrude: the layout ensures that they never overshadow the sayings themselves. Isolating the words of Jesus in this way makes them even more immediate and unmistakable. In their relative brevity, one can linger over them, or study them intently, or even read them all in one sitting. It also allows the reader to be confronted by Jesus Himself. When a saying jumps out at one -- as it often will in this setting -- it's impossible to simply glide over it and go back to the story. The words stand there in all their power -- to challenge, to encourage, to comfort.
What is so striking about The Words of Jesus is just that such an arrangement has never been done before. To the best of our knowledge, the complete sayings of Jesus have never been extracted and published alone. It allows Jesus' teachings to shine forth in a way that reveals their full power.
Please note: Proceeds from the sale of this book not used to print additional copies or publish related works will be given to charity.
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