|“Scripture is a mirror. I want to help people see themselves in that mirror,” says Dr. Jackie Smallbones, associate professor of religion and Christian education at Northwestern College, about her first book, Keeping Company With Jesus: Reflections on Gospel Stories, published by Augsburg Books this month. |
In just over 100 pages and seven chapters, Smallbones explores Gospel stories like the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), the healing of the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19) and the woman who touches Jesus’ garment for healing (Mark 5:24-34). Smallbones describes the book as “my personal responses to Gospel stories that also draw on my years of teaching and studying Scripture.”
One chapter grew out of Smallbones’ struggle with 20 months of unemployment. Another took shape as she lay in the hospital, recovering from breast cancer surgery.
Other stories simply intrigued her, like the one about the adulterous woman. “I was thinking and doing the research and was totally dissatisfied with everything I was reading,” she says. “Everyone asks, ‘What did Jesus write with his finger on the ground?’ One day I realized: That’s the wrong question. The question is: For whom did he write?
“I tried to make each story accessible to people who want both good biblical understanding and a way to relate Scripture to their lives today. I tried to do what I teach my students to do—to bring people to the point of an encounter with Jesus, so they ask themselves: ‘How would I respond in this situation?’ Hopefully as people read, they’ll learn some tools for doing the same thing with other Gospel stories,” Smallbones explains.
“[Smallbones] shows just enough of her own transforming encounters [with Jesus] to assure us she is a trustworthy guide,” says David Benner, distinguished professor of psychology and spirituality at the Psychological Studies Institute.
Dr. Linda Cannell, who teaches Christian education at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, adds, “In Keeping Company With Jesus we learn what mercy means. Dr. Smallbones dares us to take the next step and act mercifully to others.”
Keeping Company With Jesus is available at the Northwestern College Bookstore and Dove Christian Bookstore in Orange City, Iowa, for $9.99. It also is available for the same price at most online bookstores, including amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Article and book review from Winter 2004-05 Classic (PDF: go to page 10)
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