Portraits of Jesus: A Reading Guide was written by Robert Imperato and published by University Press of America in 2008. The main theme of this book is to explain the many different ways that Jesus is portrayed throughout the New Testament by the many different authors. This book gives priority to the life and times of Jesus Christ and how He should be the example of the way in which we live our lives. The authors of the New Testament are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Apostle Paul. Each of these authors all has their own perspective of Jesus and as a result, there are many different portraits of Jesus
The author does a great job of explaining the different perspective of the different authors of the New Testament. They each see Jesus Christ differently. Mark sees Jesus as the hidden and suffering Son of God. He saw how Jesus was not given the proper recognition even though He was the Son of the Living God. Mark also speaks of the miracles that Jesus performed. The author, Roberto Imperato makes special mention of what a miracle is. He defines it as a special “act of God.” It is something that no human can do. The Gospel of Mark, as the author explains is a long introduction to the death of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, he explains the fulfillment of the Jewish hope through Jesus Christ.
He also teaches that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God and the Teacher of New Righteousness. Many of the Pharisees believed that their ways and teachings were the fulfillment of Jewish life while Matthew believed that real fulfillment came through Jesus Christ. Luke views Jesus as a Martyr Prophet and merciful Savior. Luke believes that Jesus is a Martyr prophet because people may react in a negative way and cause harm to the messenger. Luke also sees Jesus as a merciful savior. John refers to Jesus as the “I am” of the Hebrew Tradition and the preexistent Word of God. John believes that Jesus is the Word of God because all things happened because of Him and through Him. He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Paul refers to Jesus as Christ Crucified and a life-giving spirit.
Robert Imperato does succeed in supporting his thesis that each author of the New Testament portrays Jesus in a different perspective. He does this by explaining each author’s view very carefully. This book is only a precursor to the many things that could be learned in regards to this course and the New Testament. This book is like the foundation or a stepping stone to the things that are going to be learned during the remainder of the course. Some area that could be developed a little more was found within the area of Paul. We understand that for Paul, Jesus is Christ Crucified. This is because this is all that he knew and understood about Jesus. We should have gotten a little more on Paul’s conversion experience. It would help the reader to fully understand Paul’s perspective. Robert Imperato wrote from a historical perspective. From this view, we learn how each person related to Jesus, His life and ministry.
The thing that I appreciated most about this book is the way that the author went into detail explaining each author’s point of view. If I had never read the New Testament before, this book gives me an overview of it. It tells me of each author’s background which helps to explain the way in which they viewed Jesus Christ. I learned more than I ever expected to learn, since I have read the New Testament several times. Each time you read something there is always something that you never noticed before. This time I learned that more about the meaning and reasoning behind parables and why Jesus told them. Parables are like short stories that make it easier to understand something.
The author explains parables as long similes or metaphors that contained history which is another reason that they could be understood much easier. This book would be very important for someone to read if they are having any doubts about their faith or Christian walk. It would help them to understand the vision and example that Christ wants us to follow. He led by example which is what He expects from us. I would recommend this book to anyone that is unsure of their religion or relationship with Jesus Christ. This book was a teaching tool that helped me even though I have no questions about the validity of Christ. It gave me a greater understanding of those that walked with Him and how they viewed Him.
Robert Imperato has written three other books. They are entitled, _Early and Medieval Christian Spirituality_ published by the University Press of America in 2003, _Christian Footings_ published by the University Press of America in 2000 and _Merton and Walsh on the Person_ published by Liturgical Publications in 1988. Robert Imperato is actually a professor of religion at the main campus in Saint Leo, Florida. As a pastor myself, I find this book to be very interesting because it gives very detailed information on each of the authors of the New Testament. Many of the things that this book reveals will help those who are new to the relationship with Jesus Christ. As a result of reading this book, they will have their own portrait of Jesus and will be able to pass along the information to help someone else.