by Edited by Brian Chung and Bryan Ye-Chung
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 12 May 2020 | Archive Date 11 Jun 2020
A Note From the Publisher
This title is not available for Kindle reading.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 11 members
I loved this book! The scriptures, the pictures and mediations. I think this is a must read for any believer. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and InterVarsity Press for my honest review.
In “John”, edited by Brian Chung and Brian Ye-Chung, the gospel of John is visually presented in an easy to read and ponder way with lots of white space and a friendly font. It is complemented with 14 guided meditations, similar in style to a lectio divina, which help the reader digest the scriptures and find a deeper connection to God. To this, they have added interesting visuals, related to the story being told, to pause on and spend time reflecting on the words read. I found the structure wonderful! It helps me connected with the Bible further, builds my relationship with God and gives me a practice which brings peace and calm into my life. As a visual person, I particularly liked this new dimension to spending time contemplating Jesus’ life, miracles and love. If you are looking for a new way to spend time in the Word, this one is for you! I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend it, it’s a five out of five on the enJOYment scale.
This is a whopping eBook with a tonne of illustrations on the gospel of John. Filled with incredibly beautiful photos and pictures of daily life, it brings to life the gospel of John by inviting us in via the spiritual practice of lectio divina. For those who don't know what that is, the authors of this book make use of the classic definition of lectio divina by St John of the Cross: "Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation." The authors expand this by incorporating a 4-step process: Read; Reflect; Respond; and Rest. By pairing photos with the gospel of John, the hope is that it will not only illuminate Scripture in a unique way, but also evoke an inner response within our hearts. That as we read the gospel, the photos will prompt us to reflect on the words and to respond accordingly. This is followed by a gratitude in rest. Each guided meditation not only gives us the steps, it shows us the way to read, to reflect, to respond, and to rest. The reader is never left to figure things out alone. This book acts like an able guide to help us along. For example, the guided meditation on John 5:1-15 has a photo of an adult hand holding a smaller hand. The smaller hand looks like a child's or a young lady. Like Jesus gently holding us up, we are invited to stand up from a position we have grown accustomed for far too long. Readers are prompted to read the Word more intentionally and to notice how the hand grasps the mat represents a new beginning. This new beginning marks a new adventure, symbolized by a photo of a railway track that extends for unknown distances. I like the hand that holds up the broken loaf of bread with the city skyline in the background. It reminds me that there is a connection between inner faith in private and outer witness in public. Here are some of my other observations: 1) Woman Caught in Adultery: With a woman looking at the rock, it is a refreshing perspective of how the rock would look like to the woman if it was thrown at her. Of course, in the gospel story, no one dared to cast the first stone. Yet, the threat of death stared at the woman right in the face. It was not the accusers who held the stone but the woman. It reminds me how a simple object when placed in the hands of evil people could become a weapon. The rock represents many things. Like a tongue that could praise or curse, the rock could be used as an ornament or as a weapon. What is most intriguing is the woman's pose as if she was taking a selfie. The face was hidden, reflecting shame. The object could have been a modern camera phone, which in turn could be used as a weapon to hurl insults, spread slander and distribute fake news to hurt other people. 2) Entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday: The photo of a boardwalk contrasts with the gospel story of Jesus making a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, on his way to the cross. The people celebrated their hopes for a victorious king. Jesus knew in his heart that things would be more gruesome and somber than the shouts of hosanna. The gated paths of the boardwalk also contrasts with the streets of Jerusalem. While Jesus was free to roam about, the boardwalk restricts the traveler to a straight and narrow path. The swamp image represents some unknown journey to an uncertain future. This was the journey to death for our Lord and Saviour. 3) Jesus the Way to the Father: As Jesus was revealing Himself to the disciples, the picture of the Slight Door Opening brings back many visual images. We think of Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Door that opens when we knock. He controls the timing for the light to shine in. He guides us in our journey from darkness to light. It makes us curious about the wonderful things that are to come. 4) Jesus Appearing to His Disciples After His Resurrection: We saw how Peter had denied Jesus thrice. The gospel of John ends with John being reinstated thrice. It is a picture of grace and the calling of Peter to be the rock of the faith. The photo of the gigantic rock brings back multiple images of what Jesus had talked about with regard to rocks. Peter's name means the rock. Christ is the Rock. He tells of the story of the wise and foolish man. The former builds his house on a strong foundation while the latter builds his house on sand. The giant rock and the waves beating on it symbolizes the power of the rock over all kinds of waves. Some photos however tend to be abstract and would take a while to digest. What is most helpful is in the re-reading of the passage. Gradually, readers will get a hint of what the photos mean for contemporary applications. My thoughts ============== This book is a unique way to practice spiritual reflection. As our culture becomes more visual, especially online, tools like the photos of real life will bring to life many of the insights the gospel has for us. The Word of God is timeless and the photos help us connect the first century text with our contemporary times. I appreciate the way the gospel text is placed side by side with each illustration. My e-copy does not line up the texts and photos as well, so I would recommend readers getting a hard-copy which will bring out the best resolution and arrangement. There are different ways to read the text. We can read it silently or aloud; slowly or quickly; and pausing when a thought grips us. I find myself toggling between enthusiasm to read the Word and the curiosity to understand the meaning of the photo. Each illuminates the other. Many times, I find it helpful to pose the question: "What is the author trying to say?" The hint is in the guided meditation. This is one of the most creative ways to integrate the beauty of the earth with the truth of Scripture. Why should anyone read this book? Isn't it simply the text of the gospel of John? I would say the book helps cast alongside an alternative platform for reflection. There is no changing of the biblical text, just illumination. There is little commentary on what the Bible is saying, more of contemplation on what the Bible is teaching. There is also a sense of peace and restfulness to let the still images still our souls. Our world is often deemed as busy, fast-paced, and crazy. By forcing us to pause and stop, to reflect and ponder, we can experience God's Word in a whole new light. Sometimes, we rush through the reading of the Bible without knowing what questions to ask, or even to let the Bible question our hearts. The guided meditation leads us toward a sacred place of quiet and reflection. I think the authors are on to something beautiful. Many people use the gospel of John as a quick introduction to the gospels. Some would whittle the gospel down to seven signs, seven I AMs, and seven last words of Jesus. A lot of people go through the gospel chapter by chapter or verse by verse. The authors here use visual images to help us pause and see the beauty of the gospel. This is the biggest distinction compared to conventional ways of reading John. We are invited to continue the conversations at the dedicated website. Brian Chung is the cofounder and business director of Alabaster Co. An entrepreneur, designer, and speaker, Brian has appeared on The Washington Post, Forbes, and The New Yorker. Bryan Ye-Chung is an artist, designer, and entrepreneur. He is the cofounder and creative director of Alabaster Co., and has been featured in the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and Vox. Jan Johnson is the author of over twenty books and more than a thousand magazine articles and Bible studies. A speaker, teacher, and spiritual director, she writes primarily about spiritual formation, social justice, and living with purposeful intentionality. Rating: 4.5 stars of 5. conrade This book has been provided courtesy of InterVarsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.