New Book Thrills Millions
A FEATURE of the “Lovers of Freedom” Conventions that began last June was the talk “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived.” Its highlight was the release of the book with the same title. Over six million people worldwide have attended this series of conventions already and heard the talk, which appears in modified form in the preceding two articles of this magazine.
Over 12 million copies of the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived have been printed in some 60 languages. It is even available in the Eastern European languages of Albanian, Croatian, Hungarian, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Slovenian. Especially were the more than 74,000 who attended the seven conventions in the Soviet Union delighted to receive it in the Russian language.
Origin of the Book
The material in the book had appeared originally in serial form in 149 consecutive issues of The Watchtower, beginning with the April 1, 1985, issue. Many readers said they were saddened when the serial came to an end with the June 1, 1991, issue. Melissa, a 12-year-old in Italy, had tears in her eyes when she read the last account in The Watchtower. “The night before our convention,” she said, “I prayed to Jehovah asking for a book on the life of Jesus. When the book was presented, I clapped my hands until I could do so no more.”
The material serialized in The Watchtower was edited and incorporated into the new beautifully illustrated, 448-page book of 133 chapters. An effort was made to present every speech Jesus delivered and every recorded event in his earthly life, including all of his illustrations and miracles. To the extent possible, everything is related in the order in which it occurred. At the end of each chapter, there is a list of the Bible texts upon which the chapter is based.
Someone may be thinking, ‘Well, I’ve already read the book because I read the series in The Watchtower.’ But Watchtower readers received the account of Jesus’ life in small fragments presented in articles appearing every two weeks over a period of more than six years. Even though the articles were informative in serial form, imagine the thrill of reading the whole account in a short time and beholding the full picture of the greatest man who ever lived!
“I finished reading the publication in two weeks,” reports a woman from Washington, D.C., U.S.A. “While I was reading, tears would flow from my eyes. I would stop reading and pray and cry. It made me feel as if I were right there with Jesus, suffering along with him. Even a week after reading the book, tears still came to my eyes when I thought about what I had read. I feel even closer to Jehovah for his having given his Son.”
“I finished the book about Jesus today,” a woman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., wrote. “It was wonderful. I had tears in my eyes as I was reading the last few chapters. Reading the book all at once was so nice. I can’t really describe how I feel about it—only that I loved it so much!”
The beautiful illustrations in the book contribute to the emotional impact, as an appreciative reader notes: “It makes me feel as if I can almost hear them crying over a dead child (chapter 47) or that we know what Jesus was thinking when the woman with a flow of blood touched him and was healed (chapter 46). The expressions on their faces are so real it hurts. . . . Instead of reading being a chore, this book makes it more like entertainment or a treat at the end of my day. The sensitive way the book is written not only tells what Jesus did but gives a glimpse of what he thought and felt.”
Many have begun using the book in their family Bible study. “We have three young children,” parents from Silverton, Oregon, U.S.A., write, “and this book is perfect for our ‘every night family study.’ Truly, how appropriate that we study carefully the background of our loving King, Christ Jesus.”
A teenager from Japan explains: “My father has been reading to us while we relax after our evening meal. As a family, we are reading from the beginning, but I decided to read a chapter a night from the back of the book before going to sleep. However, the book is so enthralling that it is often one o’clock in the morning before I notice the time.”
Many are amazed at how many details are included in the accounts. “I learned so many things I just didn’t know,” one Witness wrote. A letter from California, U.S.A., said: “My wife and I have been in the truth for over 35 years, and we can honestly say we have not had a publication in our hands that has been quite so thrilling as this one.”
The book should help to demolish the lie that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in Jesus. One grateful reader commented this way: “I couldn’t put it down, for it was the greatest rebuttal to the ignorance of those who say Jehovah’s people don’t believe in or honor Jesus Christ. All we need to do now is put in their hand this answer to their ignorance.”
Surely this book will have an important place in the ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “I gave a copy of it to a woman with whom I study the Bible,” wrote one Witness, “and the effect it has had on her seems like a miracle. She has been studying for a year, and I have had trouble getting her to come to meetings.” After the student read 45 chapters of the new book, the Witness explained, “she told me she was going to be at the meeting Sunday because it was time for her to take her stand.”
In effect, The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived provides a commentary on the Gospels. Explanations of many of the things that Jesus said and taught are provided, so the book can be used as a valuable research tool, for it adheres closely to the Bible accounts.
An especially fine feature is that basically everything is related in chronological order. Simply leafing through it with this in mind can prove to be a real aid in identifying when, in the course of Jesus’ ministry, certain events occurred. Readers of the Gospels often encounter what seem to be contradictions. The new book, without necessarily drawing attention to these, harmonizes them in its presentation.
As Christians, surely we should not want to neglect a careful study of the life of our faithful Exemplar, Jesus Christ. Let us, therefore, consider closely the Gospel accounts with the assistance of the new book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived.