Book review - Captivated - Beholding the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection, by Thabiti Anyabwile

This is a little book of five chapters which, it seems to me, first saw the light of day as sermons. The writing style is sermonic - rhetorical questions, repetition, the style is oral rather than literary, and that makes for a nice, gentle read.

But the subject matter is far from gentle. Anyabwile turns the focus on the sufferings and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That makes this book review timely. This would be a good book to buy for someone around Eastertime.

Anyabwile does look long and hard at the experiences of anguish, of desertion, of death itself. But not in an unbiblical way. I'll explain what I mean. Paul says "Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture". To focus simply on Christ's death and to recount the agonies of crucifixion under the Romans may evoke horror, shock, sympathy, pity - but that's to completely miss the point. The point is that he suffered for our sins. And it's there, rather than on the detail of the physical sufferings, that the Bible would have us centre our thoughts.

That's why Anyabwile's book is so useful. It avoids the big mistake of things like the Mel Gibson film. The cross isn't announced unless you say WHY he hung and suffered there.

It isn't a flawless book. I felt that certain parts could do with further reflection. For example the section on death said many good things, but under the heading "Agony", saying "Death is agony" he talks about the rich man and Lazarus. He continues "Death is not a peaceful sleep or a lights out... Death is torment." Well maybe so for the rich man, but not for Lazarus. For Lazarus it was a welcome  homecoming.

OK. Maybe I pick nits, but it behoves an author or a preacher to be as clear as possible.

The odd shortcoming like that apart, this is a good book! Buy it for someone this Spring.

Here is a very short video of the author talking about his book.


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