Popular Media it is. A softcover “bookazine” readily found at the grocerystores, Targets and book stores.
“The life of Christ”, presented by the American Bible Society and published by Time Inc. is richly illustrated with photos and historic art, and contains fair historic commentary along with some quotes from the Bible but not in an overwhelming “preachy” way.
This may not be receiving widespread publicity, but I think it merits attention and is positive seeming to come out early this year just prior to Easter.
For a product marketed to the general public, I think it is a rather
even-handed account of Christ moreso than say the movie “The Nativity.” For a 128 page “book magazine”, it contains rather balanced discussions on diverse subjects such as the Apocryphal Gospel s and I mean those that portrayed Jesus’ life such as the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas” not, I remind you, the Catholic/Protestant debate of what are the proper books of the Bible as this is in the Old Testament and is not a pertinent subject in a publication of this magnitude. It also describes what I believe is properly called the “Mileiu” of the times, I believe a fancy word as to how society was back then, it’s culture, it’s norms, how it was under Roman Rule, etc. Covering subjects rather well given to a few pages.
There are some interesting pieces of information given to the reader, such as for example, on one subject, concerning the Crucifixion:
“Romans usually tied ciminals to the cross, knowing that the victim’s weakness from beatings and blood loss would make it increasingly difficult to lift his body enough to take even a shallow breath. Thus, crucifixion was actually a form of hanging-it cut off the victim’s air flow as he lost his strength.” - Page 103
And following on page 105:
“…a crucified prisoner would literally gasp for air as his full body
weight bore down on his lungs.”
Which is an informative summation and I would believe the Passion with the popularity of Mel Gibson’s film is covered more fully.
Often, this book seems to follow a simple narrative which is okay,
such as this on page 48:
“The great influx of people assembling for the census swelled the
streets. Lodging houses had filled rapidly, and Joseph and Mary could not find a room of their own for the night.”
Information of which we are well aware of so we might guess that this might be helpful to those who are not that familiar with the Gospels.
I would surmise that if it falls short on any Catholic teachings it is because their perspective is not necessarily in that direction but I Idon’t feel like they slight the Faith in any way as has been seen as a criticism of “The Nativity Story” by some Catholics.
When the topic of Jesus’ Brethren comes up, the American Bible Society does say “some Christians believe Jesus had brothers” but does not imply anything. I do need to find that exact quote, I don’t think they go into detail on the Greek or Aramaic words for brothers or use quotations out of the Septuagint. It should be understood by the reader that if they are interested in this, they can research it further on their own.
Likewise, surely a Catholic presentation would certainly provide more details on the Last Supper and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist which is covered in a rather broad way in this “bookazine”, this being in fact, a truly distinguishing point between the various Christian Faiths. Such significance and matters such as this are lacking here and maybe ending the book with John 16:4-14 ( "…the Spirit will come…) is too general of an assessment of what was to follow for Christianity, but at least the accompanying illustration, a Renaissance painting in fact is certainly of Mary and the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit in the upper room as described in the book of Acts.
It may not be “vogue” to give a thumbs up to this book magazine, but I think the ABS did well in a general presentation of the life of the Messiah. Of course, while a fine account of Christ’s life for the home, it would not be exactly proper in Adoration Chapels or even in Parochial schools.