Book Review: Radical Jesus: The Way of Jesus, Then and Now by John Vincent

Laura Gottwald and Amy Dalton

cover of Radical Jesus

There should be a warning at the beginning of the book Radical Jesus: Read only if you are willing to have your life and your idea of the “way” of Jesus shaken and challenged. John Vincent states in his poem To You, Radical Jesus:

“A radical goes to the roots,
Finds out the base of things,
Lives by the original source,
Cuts out additions, revisions, rationalizations,
Goes back to the basic beginnings.”

This is the Jesus of this book. Vincent calls him Alternative, Guru, Master, Blasphemer, Politician, Counter-politician and the Journey Downward. He tells of the life of Jesus in a straight-forward, no nonsense, manner. The book easy to read but less easy to appropriate. Vincent gives us the stark reality of Jesus life, but he does not leave us hanging.

An impressive mixture of contextual Biblical interpretation and devotional journey, the chapters intersperse socio-historical analysis of Jesus’s context with reflections on how those details are relevant in today’s struggles for dignity from the bottom of society. In the later portion of his book he offers concrete actions that we might take if we want to be true disciples of this Radical Jesus. Vincent includes a study guide for how to read the book alongside the Gospel of Mark. He encourages the use of the book in groups or by individuals.

Radical Jesus should be for Christian activists as Rules for Radicals is for organizers – a foundational text.

First published in the UK by Marshall Morgan & Scott Publications in 1986. Revised editions published in the UK by Ashram Press in 2004 and 2015, and in the US by Red Church Press in 2014.

From the Stacks Book Review