I’m happy to announce the release of my 5th book in my recent Jesus-studies-deeper-Christian-life focus. It’s the most formidable project I’ve ever tackled and it’s now available on this page.

Co-written with my friend Leonard Sweet, Jesus: A Theography is the reason why I went on an 8-month blog sabbatical last year.

Jesus: A Theography is a 424-page truck stopper with over 1,800 endnotes. Yet it’s written in a style that any adult can comprehend.

Frank Viola

What follows is the book cover description, a starred review by Publishers Weekly, the Table of Contents, sample chapters and discount ordering linksDerwin Gray, lead pastor of Transformation Church, had this to say (tweet) about the book.

derwin gray

Renowned Old Testament scholar Dr. Michael L. Brown also weighed-in recently, saying . . .

“What an extraordinary, Jesus-exalting book! At times I felt like I was listening to a symphony as I read it. Your own heart will be stirred as your consider afresh, and from many new angles, the glorious Son of God as revealed in the Word. And for the biblical scholar and theologian, the rich endnotes are an added treat.” 

Back Cover Description


But what does that mean exactly?


In this compelling work, authors Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola reclaim the entire Bible as a gripping narrative about Jesus Christ.

Virtually every other “Jesus biography” begins with the nativity account in Bethlehem. In this groundbreaking book, Sweet and Viola begin before time, in the Triune God, and tell the complete interconnected story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation.

Jesus: A Theography is the first book ever written to combine historical Jesus studies with biblical theology, crafting together one breath-taking saga that tells the Jesus story in both Old and New Testaments. This flagship book demonstrates clearly that every bit of Scripture is part of the same stunning drama, what the authors refer to as the theography of Jesus Christ.

The twenty-seven books of the New Testament are largely a commentary on the Old Testament, and each part of the Bible is a signpost to Jesus. Once this is properly understood, everything changes, including our own identities. In this magisterial work you will discover a Jesus who is larger, more glorious, and more challenging than most of us have ever imagined.

Biographies of Jesus generally have been written by those trying to investigate the historical Jesus, with little attention given to the grand narrative of Scripture. On the flip side, those interested in tracing the theology of Scripture are typically disinterested in historical Jesus studies. These two approaches have yet to converge. . . until now.

Jesus: A Theography is written for the average reader as well as scholars. Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola (authors of Jesus Manifesto) unfold the greatest story ever told in a fresh and invigorating way.

So whether you are a seasoned Christian, a new believer, or someone who is intrigued by Jesus, this book unveils the discoveries of a lifetime, transforming the tired and familiar way we have read the Bible into an electrifying journey of rediscovering Christ.

Starred Review from Publishers Weekly

The man we know as Jesus of Nazareth continues to fascinate us as new insights into his life and ministry appear at a breakneck pace. Add to this heady mix this important new work, a theological biography by two fine expositors of scripture. Their thesis is simple: for Christians, the theme of scripture from Genesis to Revelation is Jesus Christ, his ministry and teaching.

The authors insist that “reading Scripture through a theological lens” gives the reader a fuller and more comprehensive view of the biblical text. Although the focus is on a new reading of the gospels, the authors reach back into the Old Testament and show how its people and stories informed and guided Jesus in his mission.

And all of this is to demonstrate how an omniscient God has worked through history, and through history’s actors, to bring about his purposes, and how “the Jesus story recapitulates and replays the major biblical dramas and narratives of the Hebrew Scriptures.” This is an excellent work every thoughtful Christian will find profitable. (Oct. 2012)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Jesus Story

1. Christ Before Time
2. Christ in Creation: The Macro Version
3. Christ in Creation: The Micro Version
4. Jesus’ Birth and Boyhood
5. Jesus’ Missing Years
6. Jesus’ Preparation for Ministry
7. Jesus’ Baptism and Temptation
8. Jesus Chooses His Disciples
9. Jesus’ Mission Statement
10. Jesus: Healer and Miracle-Worker
11. Jesus: Teacher and Preacher
12. The Human Jesus
13. Jesus’ Trial and Crucifixion
14. The Atonement and the Harrowing of Hell
15. The Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost
16. The Return of the King

Conclusion: The Jesus Spirit

Appendix: Post-Apostolic Witnesses


Order on Amazon

Order from Barnes & Noble (available on the Nook)

Free Resources

Mere Discipleship (an awe-inspiring, Christ-revealing conference message by Frank)

Read the Introduction (Print)

Listen to the Introduction (Audio)

Christ Before Time (Audio)

Read the Appendix (Post-Apostolic Witnesses)

Rick Warren Features the Book Twice

Frank and Leonard Give a Controversial Interview (Audio)

Frank Shares the Untold Story Behind Writing Jesus: A Theography (Audio)

Leonard Explains Why He and Frank Wrote the Book – A Place With a View (Audio)

Frank Discusses Jesus and the Scriptures (Audio)

Christian Books Interviews Frank on Jesus, Biblical Interpretation, and the Gospel (Audio)

What Happened Before the Foundation of the World? (Print Excerpt)

Remembering the Perfume (Print Excerpt)

P.S. If you’re new to the blog, check out the Most Popular Posts.

P.S.S. Why Frank believes the Bible is fully reliable, fully authoritative, and divinely inspired in all of its parts.

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Jesus: A Theography




  1. says

    I picked up your book shortly after it was first published and I have to say it is much more than I anticipated. I have enjoyed and been much inspired by the works and ideas of both you and Leonard Sweet, for some time, so was really looking forward to this foray. However, I have never savored any book, either fiction or non-fiction, like I am savoring every word and sentence of Jesus: A Theography. It is like a rich dessert for both the soul and the mind. It is Biblical and Theological umami in every sense of the word. It is so rich and meaty to the point that sometimes a paragraph or two is all you can truly take in at one time. You have to chew on many of those bite size bits slowly to get all the depth and complexity of meaning and flavor which you and Dr. Sweet have infused into each word. Thank you so much. I thought this would be a summer read but I’m only a third of the way through, so it looks like I may not finish this delectably savory piece until Christmas.

  2. Ken Mafli says

    I am intrigued! I will check out the book – sounds like a good read. I will be interested to get your take in the chapter: “The Atonement and the Harrowing of Hell.”

  3. William Shields says

    Dear Frank and Leonard:

    Finding your book Jesus A Theography very refreshing and reminded me of the way I was taught to look at Jesus from using the two testaments that are really one story as you describe as book ends.

    The connectiveness of His Story that you weave into a single garment that was designed to become our righteousness that came to us from God is awesomely written and explained.

    Your book would make a rich and potent series of lectures or as a Bible Study series. Do you have any future plans to develop the book into a study series. It is well researched and full of rich Biblical images that give the reader more dots to uncover about Jesus as they connect single

  4. says

    Haven’t read your book, Frank, but I’m wondering about the chapter called “Jesus’ Missing Years.” Could you provide a description of the content of this chapter?

    I have read Pagan Christianity, and enjoyed it. We have a church in our house.

    • says

      Here are the sub-headings for that chapter. It’s been a favorite chapter for many.

      • The stones cry out
      • Jesus’ hidden years aren’t really hidden
      • The Garden relationship with God
      • The Man who fits no formula
      • Jesus’ missing years were not unusual
      • Where the historical evidence points
      • A peek into Jesus’ youth
      • What did Jesus look like as He grew into manhood?

  5. Jim Harding says

    After studying the Greek and Hebrew texts for the last 40 years, I find little useful in print that really advances the what God was doing in the Christ. Also, having read most of the Historical Jesus genre, I must say I have a natural aversion to what most men write about Jesus in general. This is not the case with Jesus a Theography! I must admit that the title through me off at first until I inspected the approach further–viewing Jesus through all of scripture! I have read the bulk of Frank’s works and jumped into this volume with all fours. I must say, to me personally, it was the best of all your books and exceptionally better than most books on the subject. Not a single volume of another author comes to mind that I would appreciate more. However, your advice on Wright’s book is very accurate–get it.

    So much of our task today seems to be how to sift down through the layers of rubble to the true word of God and how do we understand it in light of the past which we are getting new and clearer perspectives only every so often. Your book does just that! It has a clearer perspective and doesn’t do the “logical leaping” that you would find in a Vanderlaan DVD. We must be careful where we connect the dots from history until now to validate our conclusions. I applaud your restraint from jumping to “groin-pulling conclusions” which is appropriate in these matters!

    The problem is twofold for me at this point:

    1. Where do we go from here regarding uncovering the next layers of rubble?
    2. How do we manifest the glory of God in all applicable levels of life?

    I must say that your offers for the 10 book purchase was extremely generous and since I got in on the pre-Christmas bargains, I had time to read and give out a gift that I felt strongly in recommending. I am amazed at the reception of all those I gave it to, also. I guess I am trying to say thanks, for an exceptional gift/bargain to bless others with at Christmas!!!

    What is the Spirit directing you to next!!!???

    When are you anticipating its arrival?

    Let me suggest you do not be concerned with book sales and stay on point on the task God has given you to the body!


    • says

      Thanks Jim: I’m honored by your comments. I’ll be unfolding what I believe the Spirit to be saying to me for the Body in the days to come. Still marinating on a number of them. I stopped bothering with book sales a long time ago. Each book is in the Lord’s hands. I’m confident He uses each book the way He wishes for each individual. That is my long-standing prayer.

      • Jim Harding says

        Thanks! My family and I have been blessed greatly by the work YHWH has put on your heart and are thankful for the perspectives that He continually seems to bring your way!

  6. says

    Just picked this up tonight after earning some money helping my mom around the house. Bless her heart. 😉 Anyways, I’m excited to read it. I’m also excited that my pastor here on campus (who also teaches classes) is planning on using this for a reading in our Gospels class. Thanks for all of the wisdom you have shared over the years!

  7. Dan Smith says

    I gladly added this latest book to my library (I have ALL your books) and am at Chap 5.

    I almost didn’t get past the Intro, after carefully working thru the endnotes. I am surprised (yea, even astonished) that you failed to recognize/honor/rebuke/anything Peter Enns’ “Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament”


    • says

      Dan: Thx. for the kind words on Jesus: A Theography. There are dozens of books we didn’t mention in our endnotes. I haven’t read any of Enns books, and to my knowledge, he hasn’t yet read any of mine. Contrary to popular opinion, I haven’t read every book that has been printed. 😉

  8. David Hale says

    I am going through your book and it is not a book to go through just once in order to digest. Lots of new perspective. I appreciate that. I’m about a quarter of the way through. One perspective I am wondering about though is a perspective that Ray Vanderlaan had brought out a few years ago, and that was Jesus’ real education into being a Jewish Teacher. I am wondering if your Theography may have missed an opportunity to explore Vanderlaan’s work a little more closely in this book. I think Vanderlaan’s work was very important to peicing together the Personal Jesus and not just the Jesus we have come to love in the Gospels.

    • says

      Is this the theory that says that Jesus went to Jerusalem to study under Jewish rabbis? If yes, I’m very familiar with it but I find it unconvincing. The scenario presented in the book comports much better with the biblical and historical data.

      • David Hale says

        Thanks for your reply…your book is excellent and I am sorta riveted to it right now. Thanks for dedicating your heart and mind to worshipping our awesome Jesus.

    • says

      It’s on the Kindle and the Nook – scroll down to the bottom of the page. Those are the only electronic format it will be in. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon gives you a Kindle reader for free that you can use on your computer.

      • The Believer says

        Thanks for the immediate response, Frank, including the info about the Kindle reader being available for free in Amazon :-)

  9. Doug Williams says

    Frank — I really picked up your new book, “Jesus: A Theography” about a month ago. I read it at the perfect time apparently. I’ve been consulting for years and my business has slowed significantly. Also, as I saw the gears grinding to a halt, I started having to deal with the distance I felt with Jesus. Before I started my business, there was a closeness and a sweetness that I sort of shelved for the sake of surviving and providing material needs for my wife and children.

    Your book was a magnet when I saw it. I’d thought for some time that not enough focus is being placed on the person of Jesus. The bulk of Christian writing majors on peripheral subjects. My heart was hungry for Jesus and so I picked up your book (although at the time with no income coming in it seemed a little expensive). But it was the right choice.

    Reading your book met a hunger I had for Christ and fed it while increasing it even
    more. In reality, I know this is the Spirit of Christ and how he works. He is infinite so there is always more of him to be had.

    Thank you for being incremental in my journeying back into the depths that is Jesus. If you have any oter books or studies on Jesus or could suggest some more reading materials about him particularly I would very much appreciate your help. I would prefer in this seasons at least to not read about anything by him.

  10. Ruby says

    Hi Frank, thanks so much for your book. I bought it as a “birthday present” to you, but I am truly being blessed through reading and listening to it. I’ve got the Kindle and Audible editions, and I have been listening during a commute. The only difficult thing about that is when I hear something and want to “re-read” it immediately but can’t fiddle with my phone as I drive. I’ve had so many “a-ha” moments, and I’ve found God blessing me with understanding and renewing my love for Jesus and His amazing plans! God is GOOD and it is really wonderful to be so encouraged. God bless you (and Leonard) real good.

  11. Ant Writes says

    Just finished the book Frank. I will write a proper review on my blog, but I wanted to say this would be a GREAT book for new Christians! If you give them this book upon salvation, they wouldnt have to unlearn so much stuff!

  12. Amy Laird says

    Loving this book! Thanks for all of the time and dedication it took to write it. I especially appreciate learning the principle of the Christ revealing Hermenutic. Sadly they didn’t teach me that in Bible college.

  13. says

    I just bought “Jesus: A Theography,” in Kindle PC format, which is a free download Kindle program at Amazon for those of us who do not own a Kindle, yet want that format. I am a slow reader; I am on the first chapter, but I can see that this book is immensely more than worth the small price. Thus far, I would say a person would not be wasting their money, even if they got no further than the first chapter. A stunning write-up for sure!

  14. says

    Frank, I think Brian McLaren may have touched on this topic is section IV (The Jesus Question) of “A New Kind Of Christianity.”
    Have you read that, and if so, what do you think of it? How, if at all, would you relate it to what you’ve written?

  15. says

    Really looking forward to reading this one, as your previous books have been so helpful in my journey toward authentic Christianity.

    As I read the introduction, I found myself wondering why you chose to go with 1st / 2nd testaments and not 1st / final, since we don’t expect there to be any further iterations?

  16. says

    Frank, I’m bummed. I should have ordered the hard copy. Amazon says the Kindle edition will be delivered on Oct. 9th. Would you, like, give them a little kick or something? I ordered it for Kindle in August.

  17. says

    Looks exceptional! I do believe that God’s purpose for creating the world was to share a revelation of His Son with us …. which is an immeasurable honour. Just pre-ordered my Kindle version…. looking forward to it! Frank and Leonard, may your efforts be rewarded. Thank you in advance.

  18. Rachel says

    This is Mark Braye’s review. My copy is on its way.

    “Jesus: A Theography is the new book from Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. Sweet and Viola are the Starsky and Hutch of theological literature. when they write a book together, or on their own for that matter, it’s a must read.

    books written about Jesus usually do one of two things: 1. investigate the historical Jesus/ignore Scripture, or 2. focus on Scripture and give little attention to the historical piece. Jesus: A Theography does both. it’s a Biblically based, theological biography.

    this book gets at the big picture, the grand narrative, of Scripture. Jesus’ story doesn’t simply begin at Christmas. Jesus’ story is told from Genesis to Revelation; and Sweet and Viola tell and comment on this story beautifully.

    “The Scriptures point to me!” Jesus says in John 5. this book is formed by and built around this idea… that the Scriptures, not just the New Testament, points to Jesus and tells Jesus’ story.

    Jesus is a new classic for the Church. it’s well written, insightful, and a delight to read. it would make for great reading/conversation for small groups or in conjunction with Bible study. going through it as a sermon series with the Biblical texts would be interesting. it’s also a marvelous book for reading and reflection.

    Jesus: A Theography is a must read for those who care about Jesus.”

  19. Joshua Lee Henry says

    Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet’s words are just as poetically powerful as they are prophetic. In their new book, Jesus A Theography (2012) the authors articulate how the entire Biblical narrative is the story of Jesus Christ. Just as Elijah, Isaiah, and Jesus for that matter, called people back to the heart of God, Viola and Sweet have written a sequel to their first Jesus Manifesto, once again calling people to fix their attention on the heart of God, the person of Jesus.

    Not striving to write a biography, they have instead chosen to convey Christ through the story of God’s interactions with humanity from the First Covenant all the way through the Second. From Genesis and the Garden of Eden, to Golgotha, and into the New Jerusalem of eternity to come, every written word we have in Scripture points to the Living Word, the Logos, God Incarnate.

    As Augustine said, “In the Old Testament, the New is concealed, in the New, the Old is revealed.” Separating the two Testaments is like cutting Jesus in half. As our Lord confidently, and scandalously, declared, “All Scripture points to me” (John 5:39). Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and prophets. The law has been completed in a life laid down with love on the cross. Viola and Sweet beautifully illustrate the majesty of Christ’ prophetic and divine, self-actualization of the Bible’s first 39 books, including His reenactments of the creation account, Israel’s desert trial, and the Davidic lineage proving his Messianic title.

    The authors also review Jesus’ “mission statement”, his question based and parable style teaching, and healing ministry. Though every chapter portrays the biblical and living King of Kings, perhaps my favorites are the last four on Jesus’s crucifixion, atonement, resurrection, ascension and future return. I also really appreciated the appendix on Post-Apostolic Witness, including pronouncements by Aquinas, Wesley, Bonhoeffer, and Wright among many others.

    I highly recommend Jesus a Theography. It is a testimony of Truth. This revealing of Jesus will benefit new and old Christians alike.

  20. Rick says

    Thanks Frank!
    I have started the book early this morning! I know already it will be a awesome! I will not be able to put the book down!! Look forward to reading it more than one time!

  21. Rick says

    Thanks, I have just starting reading “Jesus A Theography” and can tell this will be one I can’t put down! Thanks again!!

  22. David M says

    I’m excited for this. I just bought “Jesus Manifesto” today and what I have to say about your books is this: you make me excited to read the Bible. God has blessed you with such an indispensable ability to paint such a beautiful picture of whatever topic you are touching on so that we can not only think outside of our own personal boxes but match it up with God’s own word. Thank you for taking upon the work that God has placed before you and encouraging the rest of us to be good stewards of what God has given us.

  23. Dylan says

    This is what the world needs. A current perspective of Christ that they can relate to. I am impressed that you both took up the challenge to write it and so glad that the Lord has given you the revelation to do so. May many come to know Him in a greater way through it!

    Praise the Lord! Looking forward to devouring it and then sharing the concepts with everyone willing to hear.

    Bless you brothers!

  24. says

    Loved Jesus Manifesto. It was an instrumental book for me last year and I’m looking forward to another great read from the Sweet/Viola duet!

  25. says

    In your introduction, you state: “…the name Jesus doesn’t appear in Genesis or elsewhere in the Old Testament.”

    However, wouldn’t the following verses suggest a Christophany:
    Exodus 15:2
    Psalm 118:14 & 21
    Isaiah 12:2

    Based upon the Hebrew “יְשׁוּעָה” or “yĕshuw`ah”

    Perhaps I’m taking more liberty with translation than it merits, but it’s something I have considered.

    I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

    • says

      The *name* Jesus doesn’t appear in Genesis or elsewhere in the Old Testament. That’s a true statement. I think you’ll enjoy the book as it reveals Christ from Genesis to Revelation.

  26. Brian says

    Sounds like a great resource. I look fwd to getting my copy. Any chance of offering a “buy the book, get the eBook version free” deal? I love the feel of a bood in my hands, but I also love having the eBook version as a reference (easy searching, highlighting, etc.).

    Congrats on what will be one of the uniquely wortwhile books this year.

  27. Pat says

    AWESOME!!! I just read the introduction. My heart is burning within me! Ordered the book and can hardly wait to read it. Thanks Frank and Len.

  28. says

    Looking forward to the book, Frank. Could you give a brief definition of “theography” as you and Len Sweet are using it in this book? I haven’t heard the term before and a quick Google search didn’t provide much detail.

    • says

      Good question. It’s explained and contrasted with a biography in the Introduction of the book, which is a free PDF download. You’ll see the link in the post itself.

  29. Jorunn says

    This last weekend I had opportunity to speak with a young professional who is a friend of my son. The only thing he appears to know of Jesus Christ is some vague memories from childhood encounters with church and of course the media. He was not resistant to what I was saying but totally uninformed and like so many assumes that “God” is irrelavent to todays society. As I read about your new book, what comes to mind is that if they could see the grand and awsome plan of God from the beginning it would impress some of these highly intelectual and critical thinkers. I have ordered your book and hope it will be something they might read. In any event I know I will benefit from it, how can one not benefit from a greater revelation of Christ.

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