When I was asked to review this book, the author, Dr. Joseph F. Smith, introduced himself and the conceptual design of this book. He sent me a copy of it for review purposes. The review wasn’t required to be positive, and the thoughts below are my own.
This book takes a rather unique approach to helping the reader draw closer to Jesus Christ through a reading and internalizing of the Gospels. There are 49 “Landmarks”, which are the portion of the book which help the reader draw mental pictures. The mental pictures in turn, help the reader internalize the message of the Gospels and remember the meaning of a given passage.
An interesting example of this approach is found immediately at the outset of the book. Landmark 1: Index Finger, discusses the idea of the index finger representing the number one. Rather than stopping with that simplistic image, the author expounds upon the image of an index finger the size of a log, and the reader is supposed to cut down that log. Due to the described size of the log (index finger), the reader is lead to the point of understanding a pro-logger would be needed to cut down this huge index finger.
It sounds a bit weird if you ask me, but if the reader continues reading beyond the first three paragraphs of the book and turns the page, the pro-logger image is related to the Prologue found in John 1. Subsequent sections in this Landmark are Introductions, with Pro-Logger introducing himself. The text of the Introductions are the beginning portions of the other Gospels.
By the time the reader has read through to the end of Landmark 1, this image of a huge, living index finger needing to be cut down by a pro-logger, has helped the reader gain the importance of these beginning sections of the Gospels and what they mean to the overall Gospel story.
This book could be used as a reference book, with commentary over sections of Scripture, but that would not be the intended purpose of the work. The Landmarks do not simply stand alone, they are interwoven and cross referenced together to help interweave the Gospels together into the cohesive message they are intended to convey.
The exaggerated imagery used in the Landmarks is purposeful and rather intriguing. If you have found the Gospel story to be familiar and un-inspiring, you might give this book a try and see if it doesn’t spark your imagination to fall more deeply in love with a familiar story.