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Timothy Keller – The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God

Hodder and Stoughton, £12.99, 258 Pages, ISBN 978 1 473 69050 9

This is Timothy Keller’s summer 2018 writing project but it has been decades in the making. Keller has preached through the book three times at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and used the lessons of the book in numerous other settings.

The first nine chapters tell the story of Jonah based on careful reading and wise contemporary application. The final three chapters take a step back and explore our relationship to God’s word, God’s world, and God’s grace. An epilogue asks the question: “Who told the story?”

As often with Keller books, there is a rich treasure trove in the footnotes, which act rather like the outtakes on a Bob Dylan album, giving insights into the deeper nuances of Keller’s reflections on Jonah.

Keller helps the reader see that the book of Jonah is not so much a window through which we can observe the complex character that is Jonah, as a mirror in which we see ourselves. The mirror is held up to reveal our use of religion to avoid God, expose our prejudices, and highlight our frequent inability to adequately grasp God’s grace.

Reading this book carefully would be a great way for anyone to get back on the same page as God. We all live in a runaway world, we all know God-avoidance strategies; here is a valuable resource, that can help us come home.

John Woods is pastor of Lancing Tabernacle

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