Vintage Jesus. By Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. Crossway
Books, 2007.  256 pp. $19.99.

I was reading two other books when I received a copy of Vintage Jesus. I
decided to read a chapter or two and then return to the book after finishing the other
two on my favorite topics--biblical archaeology and American history. But one or two
chapters led to three or four. Before long I abandoned my archaeology and history
books in favor of
Vintage Jesus! That means it must be good!

Vintage Jesus is a study in major themes and issues in the life of Christ. Mark
Driscoll (Mars Hill founder and teaching pastor) and Gerry Breshears (Professor of
Theology at Western Seminary) have presented topics which include the deity of
Jesus, the humanity of Jesus, the virgin birth, the resurrection, the uniqueness of Jesus
and the return of Jesus. Mark has written the chapters while Gerry has contributed the
“Answers to Common Questions” which dig deeper into the theological issues
surrounding the life of Jesus.

I expected the writings of a popular pastor to include a lot of fluff. I was wrong!
The material of the book is biblically based, theologically substantive and thoughtfully
presented. The book was sufficiently stimulating and engaging to keep me interested
and reading chapter after chapter. It is definitely not “pop theology,” but it is theology
that the average reader can interact with and enjoy. Driscoll’s humorous stories and
“edgy” remarks add a bit of spice and flavor to the book. I admit to having read some
pages twice!

I enjoyed interacting with Gerry’s answers to the “common questions” at the end
of each chapter. Regarding the question, “Could Jesus have sinned?” he demonstrated
the fallacy of the popular syllogism: “God cannot sin. Jesus is God. Therefore, Jesus
cannot sin.” He went on to demonstrate how the same logic can be applied to the death
of Jesus leading to an unsatisfactory conclusion. I appreciated Gerry’s alternative
syllogism: “God cannot sin. Jesus is God-man. Therefore, Jesus was tempted in every
way as we, but absolutely without sin.”   

Gerry’s response to the question, “Did Jesus go to hell after he died on the
cross?” wasn’t as convincing.  While he answers “no,” to the question, Breshears goes
on to explain, “Ephesians 4:8-10 says that after his death, Jesus went into that place of
holding for believers called paradise for three days and then upon his ascension into
heaven he took the Christians with him” (p. 123). Exegetically, it has been
demonstrated that Jesus’ descent to the “lower parts of the earth” is an appositional
genitive referring to the earth as the “lower parts” in relationship to heaven. Paul is
referring to the incarnation of Jesus which was followed by His ascension to heaven.
(See Wayne Grudem, “He Did Not Descend Into Hell,” JETS 43/1 (March 1991): 103-
113).           

While
Vintage Jesus contains many helpful and supportive footnotes they are all
inconveniently placed at the back of the book, including Scripture references.  If you
are interested in support for the statements made by Driscoll and Breshears, you have
to keep a finger in the back of the book.

I’m happy to recommend this book for Christians who want to get better
acquainted with Jesus and the important issues concerning His life and ministry. I look
forward to teaching my “Life of Christ” course next year and using
Vintage Jesus as my
class text. The questions (and answers) accompanying each chapter makes this an
excellent book for a Sunday School class or Bible study.

                                                                          J. Carl Laney