First and foremost: the title of this book is The Jesus Scandals. Not Sandals. Every time I have looked at the title, I have misread the title of this book. It has nothing to do with the shoes of the Lord. Now that we have that cleared up, let’s look at the real book.
The real book, The Jesus Scandals, is written by David Instone-Brewer. It’s published by Monarch Books and distributed in the United States through Kregel Publishers. Kregel provided the review copy of this book. If you think a free paperback will keep me from giving you an honest opinion, skip the review and move on.
Let’s break this down, short and sweet:
1. The author. David Instone-Brewer is Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament for the Tyndale House Residential Centre for Biblical Research. That’s a fancy title, but it shows that he is specifically involved in continuing research regarding New Testament issues. Essentially, he has substantial training and exposure to the material. The link above will point you to his biographical information.
2. The overall scope of the book. The goal of the book is to support the trustworthiness of the Gospel by comparing various events to the social conventions of the day. The book is presented in short chapters, all of which are easy to peruse and contemplate. The writing, though done by a senior research fellow, is plainly written. Further, I saw no major concerns with translating the book from English to, well, English. There were few British spellings or idioms that were noticeable and none that interfered with comprehension.
3. Individual sections. The individual sections are well presented. Some of them, such as the discussion of Jesus’ acceptance of children, present similar arguments that I have heard before. The extension of the discussion of children to the Last Supper/Passover was new to me, and I found it intriguing. Other of the scandals mentioned were not familiar to me, and likely will be fresh to anyone without a strong background in that region of history.
4. Total impact. I found this book to be an excellent additional reading on the background of the Gospels in the New Testament. As with any text on religious issues, one’s presuppositions will affect one’s response: this may not convince the strongest of skeptics, but it will provide some fodder for discussion among the interested. Further, it will help strengthen an understanding of just how truly the ministry of Jesus ran counter to the norms of His day, and perhaps will provoke us as His followers to follow in those footsteps.
I would highly recommend this book, The Jesus Scandals.