George W. Bush in a presidential debate when asked who was his favorite philosopher, remarked "Jesus." He was roundly criticized for this at the time on multiple levels. Many thought it was a silly answer showing his ignorance and others that it was demeaning of Jesus. Peter Kreeft in his new book The Philosophy of Jesus explores Jesus as philosopher and explores his philosophy.
As Peter Kreeft states in the front of the book the audience for this book is both the Christian and non-Christian and I would say that the book achieves this admirably. It is also a book for both those trained in philosophy and those who know little or nothing on the subject. He defines the terms he uses along the way to ensure he leaves nobody behind. This book is also not full of technical philosophical or theological language and though while at times some of these terms are used his writing is very clear.
The book is divided into four major chapters:
- Jesus’ Metaphysics (What is real?)
- Jesus’ Epistemology (How do we know what is real?)
- Jesus’ Anthropology (Who are we who know what is real?)
- Jesus’ Ethics (What should we be to be more real?)
One of the hardest things to teach is to teach something that somebody already believes he knows. As Christians we accept the incarnation, but after a time we can talk about these mysterious things in a monotone. Peter Kreeft in his writing shows none of this tendency and presents Jesus and his teaching in fresh ways that once again invokes how you felt when you first started to believe. It is hard not to get excited once again as you read this book and for a book that deals with philosophical subjects you will be surprised how fast you are swept into the book, as if you were just doing some recreational reading from on of your favorite novelists.
This book is not the overt apologetics such as his outstanding Handbook of Christian Apologetics, but it certainly does show the philosophy of Jesus so that the non-Christian can understand it in a non-combative style and that the Christian will see the deeper dimensions of Jesus the philosopher.
So don’t let the title throw you off, this is not a dry text on philosophical subjects, but a book certainly to nourish you.