A converted skeptic—how longtime editor Robert Hudson describes himself—can be a trustworthy trail guide. Skeptics ponder. And that’s precisely what Hudson’s latest does.
Seeing Jesus walks readers through centuries of stories from those who say they have peered into the face of Jesus. Thomas to Jerome. Maria Morales Rubio to Mother Teresa. Hudson calls his approach an “informal narrative history” or an “anecdotal history.”
An important question tethers these anecdotes together. Hudson explains:
“Since we have no idea what Jesus looked like, how would we even recognize him if we passed him on the street? For that matter, how did any of the people in this book, in the midst of their unusual experiences, know it was really Jesus and not, as Ebenezer Scrooge said of Jacob Marley’s ghost, just an “undigested bit of beef ... a fragment of underdone potato”?
So Hudson asks this: how do we know if someone really saw Jesus?
Five sections divide the book and its anecdotes: Disciples, Ascetics, Mystics, Trailblazers, and Moderns. The first section contains familiar friends like Thomas, John, and Paul—and the perhaps-not-so-familiar Cleopas and Ananias.
Thomas gets a good bit of sympathy—understanding too. Instead of the traditional shaming, Thomas is described as simply being in the “show-me brand of belief.” Thomas’s response of needing proof is even noteworthy. Hudson writes, “Every cult in the world only exists because its followers believe in things that are unseen.”
Later in the book, Sojourner Truth’s incredible vision appears in the Trailblazer section. The former slave had wavered after finding freedom and nearly returned to her master. In a dramatic moment, she says that Jesus held an umbrella over her head, protecting her from the hot sun. The holiness of Jesus changed this beloved abolitionist and suffragist.
Hudson’s approach is enjoyably forthright. Like us, he doesn’t know everything—and doesn’t pretend to. “I don’t know what to make of—” he’ll say, of this or that. I don’t either. But let’s ponder it. After all, the world is full of mystery. Right?
Hudson was a Zondervan/Harper Collins editor for 34 years. His 11 books range from his poetry collection, Kiss the Earth When You Pray, to the prayer book, Four Birds of Noah’s Ark. His fourth edition of The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style serves as an industry standard.
Hudson packs much information into the narratives; I left the book feeling like I had learned much. Skeptics think twice about things, and Hudson’s Seeing Jesus makes that second glance very worthwhile. (Broadleaf).