“In Christ there is a full exhibition of God.”
“I am a child at His feet, seeking simply to learn of Him.”
John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan
On Specific Events in the Life of Christ
Order of Contents
The Best Works on the Life & Times of Christ
Devotional & Practical, 1600’s
Hall, Joseph – Contemplations on the Historical Parts of the New Testament (d. 1656) The work only covers the life of Christ (not the whole N.T.).
Hall was an influential reformed Anglican bishop. These devotional and practical contemplations savor of deep spirituality and are very insightful. One of a kind and one of the best.
*** ‘Need I commend Bishop Hall’s Contemplations to your affectionate attention? What wit! What sound sense! What concealed learning! His style is as pithy and witty as that of Thomas Fuller, and it has a sacred unction about it to which Fuller has no pretension.’ ‘The work can be readily procured; but if its price were raised in proportion to its real value, it would become one of the most costly books extant.’ – Spurgeon
The Life & Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. 1 (Prolegomena up to the end of John the Baptist), 2 (From the death of John the Baptist to the Ascension) (Longmans, 1912) ToC 1, 2
Edersheim (1825-1889) was raised an orthodox Jew, became converted to Christ partially through the influence of John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan and entered into the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland. Later he would join the Church of England, becoming one of the premier scholars of his time on 1st century studies.
Edershiem spent 7 years in seclusion writing this work; it is by far and away the best orthodox ‘Life and Times of Christ’ that there is. Read it cover to cover!
Use the table of contents to see what he has to say on a passage of interest to you.
Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ (NY: Hodder & Stoughton, 1876) 360 pp. ToC
The Temple: its Ministry & its Services, as they were at the Time of Jesus Christ new ed. rev. (James Pott, 1881) 390 pp. ToC
This work is scholarly, but readable, about the historical details of the temple as it was renovated by Herod in the 1st century, which was slightly different than as prescribed in the books of Chronicles.
*** ‘This will supply the student with all that he needs upon the subject in hand.’ – Spurgeon
“Oh! it is miserably little that I know of Jesus Christ – miserably little.”
John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan
Great Works on the Life & Times of Christ
See also in the Commentaries on the Four Gospels page: Stier, Stock and Williams; as well as New Testament Background generally.
Andrews, Samuel – The Life of our Lord upon the Earth, considered in its Historical, Chronological & Geographical Relations (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1863) 645 pp. ToC Index Scripture Index
“It deals with the life of the Lord on the earth in its chronological, topographical, and historical relations only… [it] assumes that they are genuine historical documents, and true statements of facts; and deals with them as such.” – Preface
*** “A good book for a student to read through before taking up larger works. It is a standard work.” – Spurgeon
Farrar, F.W. – Life of Christ (NY: E.P. Dutton, 1875?) 485 pp. ToC
Farrar (1831–1903) was a scholar and clergyman in the Church of England. He has some liberal tendencies; read with caution. Edersheim corrects him on numerous points.
*** “THE work upon the subject. Fresh and full. The price is very high and yet the sale has been enormous.” – Spurgeon
Geikie, John Cunningham – The Life & Words of Christ, vol. 1 (Intro & to Opening of Galilean Ministry), 2 (to the Ascension) (1877) 620 & 700 pp. ToC 1, 2
‘One of the best religious writers of the age.’ – Spurgeon
Franz Delitzsch placed this work in ‘the highest rank.’
‘We can never know too much of that literature which throws side-lights on the Bible, and which unfolds the customs of the people, difficult allusions, historical coincidences, geographical details. Geikie’s Hours with the Bible; Kitto’s Daily Illustrations, edited by Dr. Porter; Dr. Smith’s Bible Dictionary; books like these are invaluable….’ – F.B. Meyer
Kitto, John – ‘The Life & Death of our Lord’ being vol. 7 of Daily Bible Illustrations: being Original Readings for a Year, on subjects relating to Sacred History, Biography, Geography, Antiquities & Theology… Evening Series (NY: Robert Carter, 1853) 435 pp. ToC
*** ‘Abounds in instructive matter.’ ‘They are not exactly a commentary, but what marvelous expositions you have there! You have reading more interesting than any novel that was ever written, and as instructive as the heaviest theology. The matter is quite attractive and fascinating, and yet so weighty, that the man who shall study those eight volumes thoroughly, will not fail to read his Bible intelligently and with growing interest.’ – Spurgeon
Lange, J.P. – The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ, vol. 1 (Prolegomena up to beginning of his public ministry), 2 (Public reception to Sanhedrin determining his death), 3 (Palm Sunday to the Ascension,& Jesus in Mt.), 4 (Jesus in Mt, Mk, Lk, Jn) (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1864) ToC 1, 2, 3, 4
Lange is known for his well-done editorship of Lange’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, which is a very good, conservative commentary.
*** “We constantly read Lange, and though frequently differing from him, we are more and more grateful for so much thoughtful teaching.” – Spurgeon
Schurer, Emil – A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, vol. 1 (Political History, 175 – 4 BC), 2 (4 BC – 135 AD), 3 (Culture, Constitution, Priesthood, Scribism), 4 (Pharisees & Sadducees, School & Synagogue, Life under thee Law, The Messianic Hope, Essenes, Dispersion & Proselytes), 5 (Palestinian Literature, Hellenistic Literature, Philo) (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891) ToC 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Index
Schurer (1844–1910) was a German scholar.
More Works on the Life & Times of Christ
Calvin, John – Diverse Sermons of Master John Calvin, concerning the Divinity, Humanity, and Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, as also touching his Passion, Death, Resurection, Ascention: together with the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost upon his Apostles: & the First Sermon of St. Peter (London, 1581)
Becon, Thomas – ‘Christ’s Chronicle’ 16 pp. in Prayers & Other Pieces of Thomas Becon (d. 1567) English reformer
Estye, George – ‘The History of the Gospel’ in Certain Godly & Learned Expositions Upon Diverse Parts of Scripture, as they were Preached… (London, 1603), pp. 77-146
Estye (c.1560-1601) was a reformed Anglican clergyman.
Reynolds, Edward – The Life of Christ in Works 1.354-475
Shows the insufficiency of the vain creature to make men happy, the insufficiency of man to make himself happy (being full of sin), and the sufficiency of Christ as the fountain of life and happiness.
Doddridge, Philip – The Life of our Blessed Lord & Savior Jesus Christ: containing a Full, Accurate & Instructive History of the Various Transactions in the Life of our Glorious Redeemer, from His taking upon Himself our Sinful Nature, to His Crucifixion, Resurrection from the Dead & Glorious Ascension into Heaven (d. 1751; Boston: S. Walker, 1823) 675 pp. ToC
Dalrymple, William – A History of Christ for the Use of the Unlearned, with Short Explanatory Notes & Practical Reflections, humbly recommended to Parents & Teachers of Youth in Schools (London: E. Balfour, 1787) 615 pp. no ToC Scripture Index
Dalyrmple (1723-1814) was a Scottish religious writer, minister and moderator of the Church of Scotland.
Bennett, James – Lectures on the History of Jesus Christ, vol. 1, 2 (London: F. Westley, 1828)
** “Lively popular lectures, full of matter, well expressed, and possessing sterling excellence.” – Spurgeon
Krummacher F.W. – The Martyr Lamb, or Christ the Representative of his People in all Ages (1845) 288 pp. ToC
Neander, Augustus – The Life of Jesus Christ in its Historical Connexion and Historical Development (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1851) 540 pp. ToC
** “Good as an answer to Stauss, but unsatisfactory from the standpoint of evangelical theology.” – Spurgeon
Young, John – The Christ of History: an Argument Grounded in the Facts of His Life on Earth (1855)
** “A work of great excellence, eloquence, and logical compactness.” – British Quarterly Review, as quoted by Spurgeon
Ellicott, C.J. – Historical Lectures on the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1869) 445 pp. ToC
** “This great author stands in the highest place of honor; but having no sympathy with what he called ‘the popular theology’, he should be read with considerable caution.” – Spurgeon
Abbott, John S.C. – chs. 1-5 of The History of Christianity (Boston: B.B. Russell, 1872)
“John Abbott (1805-1877) was the brother of Jacob Abbott and the author of numerous works especially for children and young people. He… was ordained to the ministry in the Congregational church in 1830… His first published work, “The Mother at Home,” appeared in 1833, and was followed later that year by “The Child at Home.” In 1844 he relinquished the pastorate, and devoted himself exclusively to literature…” – Michael Gaydosh of S.G.C.B.
“The writer is not aware that there is any [other] popular history of the extraordinary events involved in the progress of Christianity which can lure the attention of men, even of Christians, whose minds are engrossed by the agitations of busy life…
In writing the life of Jesus, the author has accepted the narratives of the evangelists as authentic and reliable, and has endeavored to give a faithful… account of what Jesus said and id, as he would write of any other distinguished personage… The gospel of Christ is ‘the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ In its propagation lies the only hope of the world. Its universal acceptance will usher in such a day of glory as this world has never witnessed since the flowers of Eden wilted.” – Preface
Beecher, Henry Ward – Life of Jesus, the Christ, vol. 1, 2 (1872)
** “Here the great genius of Beecher glows and burns; but we are disappointed with his book as a biography of our Lord.” – Spurgeon
Pressense, Edmond De
Jesus Christ: his Times, Life & Work (London: Jackson, Walford, 1875) 585 pp. ToC
** “There have been many discussions upon the orthodoxy of this work, but it is a noble production, and is written in an adoring spirit. The accomplished author has made a valuable contribution to the cause of truth. Yet we are inclined to agree with the writer who said, ‘to write a life of Christ is to pain the sun with charcoal.’ The life of a Christian is the best picture of the life of Christ.” – Spurgeon
Jesus Christ; his Life & Work, an Abridged Edition (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1871) 330 pp. ToC
This abridgment was done by the author: “This popular edition… differs.. by the absence of all that was purely scientific… to avoid, as far as possible, all debatable and controversial points.”
Kennedy, John – Expository Lectures Buy late-1800’s
Kennedy was a noted minister of the Free Church of Scotland in the Highlands.
The Life of Jesus Christ in Hand-Books for Bible Classes, ed. Dods & Whyte (1880) 150 pp. ToC
Stalker was a minister in the Free Church of Scotland and then in the United Free Church of Scotland.
Imago Christi: The Example of Jesus Christ (NY: A.C. Armstrong, 1890) 340 pp. ToC Introduction by William Taylor
Scrymgeour, William – Lessons on the Life of Jesus in Hand-Books for Bible Classes, ed. Dods & Whyte (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1883) 260 pp. ToC This forms a follow up to Stalker’s volume above.
Muirhead, Lewis – The Times of Christ in Handbooks for Bible Classes, ed. Dods & Whyte (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1905) 190 pp. ToC
Epochs in the Life of Jesus: a Study of Development & Struggle in the Messiah’s Work (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907) 200 pp. ToC
The Pharisees & Jesus: the Stone Lectures for 1915-6 at Princeton (London: Duckworth, 1920) 220 pp. ToC
Keywords in the Teaching of Jesus (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1906) 125 pp. ToC
Bruce, F.F. – Jesus: Lord & Savior Buy (Intervarsity Press, 1986) 210 pp. ToC Written at an easy to intermediate level.
Guthrie, Donald – A Shorter Life of Christ Buy (Zondervan, 1970) 180 pp. ToC
“The subject matter of this book was written for the article on Jesus Christ in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible… Its purpose is to serve as an introduction to the life of Jesus, thus paving the way for more detailed study of his life. As far as possible, technicalities have been avoided since the aim has been to help the non-specialist to gain an understanding of the issues involved.” – Preface
New Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction
Commentaries on the Four Gospels
The Life, Letters & Theology of Paul