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The Life of Our Lord: Written for His Children During the Years 1846 to 1849

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In this charming, simple retelling of the life of Jesus Christ, adapted from the Gospel of St. Luke, Dickens hoped to teach his young children about religion and faith. Author: Charles DickensFormat: 128 pages, HardcoverPublisher: Simon Schuster (November 9, 1999) ISBN: 978-0684865379


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In this charming, simple retelling of the life of Jesus Christ, adapted from the Gospel of St. Luke, Dickens hoped to teach his young children about religion and faith. Author: Charles DickensFormat: 128 pages, HardcoverPublisher: Simon Schuster (November 9, 1999) ISBN: 978-0684865379

30 review for The Life of Our Lord: Written for His Children During the Years 1846 to 1849

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    I've heard that critics hated this book, and I'm not at all surprised. This book should not be stacked up against Dickens' other works of art. It was clearly never meant to be a great literary masterpiece, and you can't expect many critics to get that. This is simply a father explaining the life of Christ to his children, in his own words, using his own interpretations. That is precisely why I loved it so much. The scriptures can be daunting to wade through, but this book puts the New Testament i I've heard that critics hated this book, and I'm not at all surprised. This book should not be stacked up against Dickens' other works of art. It was clearly never meant to be a great literary masterpiece, and you can't expect many critics to get that. This is simply a father explaining the life of Christ to his children, in his own words, using his own interpretations. That is precisely why I loved it so much. The scriptures can be daunting to wade through, but this book puts the New Testament in much simpler terms. I felt like a child he'd gathered in his arms and placed on his knee to talk to. I wish this would have been around when I was a kid to bridge that gap between Sally, Dick, & Jane and the gospel cannon. I absolutely intend to give this to my kids (when they're about 8 or so) to help them begin to foster a love for scripture stories.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I had never heard of this until my mom passed her copy on to me this year. But then, that was the intent! According to the introduction, Dickens didn't want this book published, and he didn't want it known as a work of Dickens. He wrote it to instruct his children about the life of Jesus Christ at the time when his popularity was at its height. He knew that if it were published, it would become part of the Dickens oeuvre, and he didn't want that. The family, many years after his death, decided t I had never heard of this until my mom passed her copy on to me this year. But then, that was the intent! According to the introduction, Dickens didn't want this book published, and he didn't want it known as a work of Dickens. He wrote it to instruct his children about the life of Jesus Christ at the time when his popularity was at its height. He knew that if it were published, it would become part of the Dickens oeuvre, and he didn't want that. The family, many years after his death, decided to publish it, the underlying message being that they wanted the world to see the Charles Dickens they had grown up learning about: as a devoted father and devout Christian. This book led to some interesting discussions with my children, in that there are a couple of things that we as members of the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that Dickens does not (he says, for instance, that Jesus was such a good man he was CALLED the son of God). But the language is so simple that it actually helped my kids understand some of the details about Christ's last days and crucifixion that the Bible is too obscure about.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lou

    It seems unfair to rate a book that was privately written by a parent for his children, with the explicit desire that it not be published. Of course, after Dickens' death, The Life of Our Lord was published, so here we are. I'm no theologian, but having read all the Gospels, I could find no fault with anything Dickens relayed. It seemed to be a pithy compilation of the information we have from ancient texts, written in a way that an older child (in the 19th century, at least) would easily unders It seems unfair to rate a book that was privately written by a parent for his children, with the explicit desire that it not be published. Of course, after Dickens' death, The Life of Our Lord was published, so here we are. I'm no theologian, but having read all the Gospels, I could find no fault with anything Dickens relayed. It seemed to be a pithy compilation of the information we have from ancient texts, written in a way that an older child (in the 19th century, at least) would easily understand. That said, I think all but the most die-hard Dickens fans would probably do just as well reading their Bibles. At the end of the story are two prayers, one for mornings and another for evenings. In the latter, Dickens asks his children to pray that they will be well-behaved, kind children. In true Old Testament fashion, though, the prayer says, "...for if I am cruel to anything, even to a poor little fly, God, who is so good, will never love me." Well. I won't speak for God, but I hope that He takes into account the circumstances, intent, and remorse behind our actions, and shows us some degree of mercy, as Dickens tells us Jesus does in his interaction with sinners.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)

    This book is simply a letter of a father's belief written to his children! Favorite part "That there might be some good men to go about with Him, teaching people, Jesus Christ chose twelve poor men to be His companions. These twelve are called Apostles or Disciples, and He chose them from among poor men, in order that the poor might know--always after that, in all years to come--that Heaven was made for them as well as for the rich, and the God makes no difference between those who wear good clot This book is simply a letter of a father's belief written to his children! Favorite part "That there might be some good men to go about with Him, teaching people, Jesus Christ chose twelve poor men to be His companions. These twelve are called Apostles or Disciples, and He chose them from among poor men, in order that the poor might know--always after that, in all years to come--that Heaven was made for them as well as for the rich, and the God makes no difference between those who wear good clothes and those who go barefoot and in rags. The most miserable, the most ugly, deformed, wretched creatures that live, will be bright Angels in Heaven if they are good here on earth. Never forget this, when you are grown up. Never be proud or unkind, my dears, to any poor man, woman, or child. If they are bad, think that they would have been better if they had had kind friends, and good homes, and had been better taught. So, always try to make them better by kind persuading words, and always try to teach them and relieve them if you can. And when people speak ill of the poor and miserable, think how Jesus Christ went among them, and taught them, and thought them worthy of His care. And always pity them yourselves, and think as well of them as you can." -pg.34

  5. 5 out of 5

    Toria

    I'm not very religious, though I've tried. But I was drawn to this short little novella simply because it was written by Charles Dickens to his kids only, and wasn't published until the last of the kids died in 1933. It feelt like a privilege to be able to read it today even tough it wasn't meant for the public, a little family story. But because it's still written by him it's a good story but maybe perhaps not as well made as his other books and novellas that wasn't meant for the public eye. I'm not very religious, though I've tried. But I was drawn to this short little novella simply because it was written by Charles Dickens to his kids only, and wasn't published until the last of the kids died in 1933. It feelt like a privilege to be able to read it today even tough it wasn't meant for the public, a little family story. But because it's still written by him it's a good story but maybe perhaps not as well made as his other books and novellas that wasn't meant for the public eye.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Garrett Cash

    As others have pointed out, this was never meant to be published nor considered a literary work. Nevertheless it is fascinating for showing the almost completely overlooked Christian faith of Dickens. Also of interest is Dickens simplifying the ideas of Jesus for his children, which show Dickens's thorough understanding of the teaching of Christ. The Life of Our Lord is a "gospel harmony," a telling of the gospels story by putting together all of the details in the four gospels. According to the As others have pointed out, this was never meant to be published nor considered a literary work. Nevertheless it is fascinating for showing the almost completely overlooked Christian faith of Dickens. Also of interest is Dickens simplifying the ideas of Jesus for his children, which show Dickens's thorough understanding of the teaching of Christ. The Life of Our Lord is a "gospel harmony," a telling of the gospels story by putting together all of the details in the four gospels. According to the author of God and Charles Dickens: Rediscovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author all families in Victorian England had at least two books on their shelves, a Bible and a gospel harmony. If you're going to read one, it might as well be by one of (if not THE) greatest English authors of all time. Just remember it was meant for Dickens's children, and is beyond criticism.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heidi-Marie

    I can certainly see why Dickens never wanted this work published. It is not awful. But it is definitely a summary of the life of Christ written to be at not only a child's level (thus some childlike summaries and much simplified explanations and assertions), but to his OWN children's level. There are occasional parts where Dickens is trying to teach his children good principles and actions based on the Savior's life. He NEVER meant this to be read by others. I wouldn't have wanted such a work to I can certainly see why Dickens never wanted this work published. It is not awful. But it is definitely a summary of the life of Christ written to be at not only a child's level (thus some childlike summaries and much simplified explanations and assertions), but to his OWN children's level. There are occasional parts where Dickens is trying to teach his children good principles and actions based on the Savior's life. He NEVER meant this to be read by others. I wouldn't have wanted such a work to go either. One of the most eloquent writers could have written a much more beautiful testimony of his beliefs about the Savior for others to read. But that was not a part of his life that he wanted bashed because it was so sacred to him. And he probably didn't want the subject treated lightly or in a strictly a literary light either. He shared this precious part with his YOUNG children. It is no literary masterpiece in the least, but from it I was able to gain how much Dickens loved the Savior, believed in him, and wanted his children to share in that love and belief.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Charles Dickens wrote this for children, and I think I loved the sentiment just as much if not more than the content: "My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in anyway ill or miserable, as he was. And as he is now in Heaven, where we hope to go, and all meet each other after we are dead, an Charles Dickens wrote this for children, and I think I loved the sentiment just as much if not more than the content: "My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in anyway ill or miserable, as he was. And as he is now in Heaven, where we hope to go, and all meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together." I loved the way he wrote of the miracles of Christ: "I wish that you would remember that word, because I shall use it again, and I should like you to know that it means something which is very wonderful and which could not be done without God's leave and assistance." At the end he gives a beautiful reminder of what it means to be a Christian, and how remembering the life and lessons of Christ will help us to act in His name, provide hope, forgiveness and peace.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    this is a easy read that's a great introduction to the life of Christ. I read some of it out loud to my husband. I enjoyed the morals that Dickens shares about what we can learn from the miracles of Christ. I think this is a great book to introduce kids to the life of Christ. However, I would use this as a starting point and would continue in more reading about Christ in the scriptures and more scholarly texts like Jesus the Christ by James E Talmage. Overall, an enjoyable read, great during the this is a easy read that's a great introduction to the life of Christ. I read some of it out loud to my husband. I enjoyed the morals that Dickens shares about what we can learn from the miracles of Christ. I think this is a great book to introduce kids to the life of Christ. However, I would use this as a starting point and would continue in more reading about Christ in the scriptures and more scholarly texts like Jesus the Christ by James E Talmage. Overall, an enjoyable read, great during the holidays.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Shaun and I read this out loud together to help us celebrate Christmas. It was beautifully simple and wonderfully focused. I think it will become an annual Christmastime tradition for us. Reread 2012 Reread 2013 Reread 2014 Reread 2015 Reread 2016 - Luke really loved this book as we read it this year. He asked for it at bedtime and even brought it to me during the day. It is a great way to feel the Christmas spirit.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Beautiful retelling of the life of Christ. Just beautiful. This will be a yearly-- maybe even monthly read for me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I was very disappointed with this book for many reasons. First, it does not feel like a Dickens book. I know, he wrote it for a young audience, but his voice was missing. The only place I could really find it was when he told his children he would take them to a zoo to see a camel if they wished. I loved the complexity of the plot and characters in his novels, all of that was missing, and this book is nothing more than a glossed, overly simplified chronology of Christ's life. Perhaps most distur I was very disappointed with this book for many reasons. First, it does not feel like a Dickens book. I know, he wrote it for a young audience, but his voice was missing. The only place I could really find it was when he told his children he would take them to a zoo to see a camel if they wished. I loved the complexity of the plot and characters in his novels, all of that was missing, and this book is nothing more than a glossed, overly simplified chronology of Christ's life. Perhaps most disturbing was he removed Christ's divinity and mission from the book, and in that regard he completely missed the heart of the Christian faith and the message of the four gospels.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    Very interesting to read this expression of belief given the context of Dickens upbringing, education and life in Anglican, Victorian England. Dickens, from what I can ascertain never professed religious belief himself. He was a harsh critic of the social injustice of his day, often inflicted by professed religionists. He did, however often voice tender faith thru some of the most worthy characters in his masterpieces. It is revealing that he wanted the world to see that he desired his children Very interesting to read this expression of belief given the context of Dickens upbringing, education and life in Anglican, Victorian England. Dickens, from what I can ascertain never professed religious belief himself. He was a harsh critic of the social injustice of his day, often inflicted by professed religionists. He did, however often voice tender faith thru some of the most worthy characters in his masterpieces. It is revealing that he wanted the world to see that he desired his children to feel a reality of deity in the Life of Jesus.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Brown

    A sweet retelling of the New Testament that Charles Dickens wrote for his children. He tells the story of Christ, starting from his birth, on to his life and teachings, and ends with his death and resurrection. It is a perfect book to read to children, as that was what it was written for - simplified, but still quotes the beautiful language of the bible. Very quick read as well, and I think it would be great to read at Christmas or Easter.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alysia

    The tone of this book is just like a father speaking to his children, tucking them in with a bedtime story. It is a touching and personal retelling of the story of the Savior's life, with Dickens' testimony interwoven. We like to read this with the kids at Christmas time. The tone of this book is just like a father speaking to his children, tucking them in with a bedtime story. It is a touching and personal retelling of the story of the Savior's life, with Dickens' testimony interwoven. We like to read this with the kids at Christmas time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I loved this book. I found it at a library book sale about thirty years ago, when I was still in college. I kept it for many years. Then, I donated it so someone else could discover Charles Dickens and/or Jesus Christ.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dianna

    Reading this aloud together each December is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    A re-read for me for Christmas reading with my daughter.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brittney

    I liked that this was a quick review of Jesus's life, and imagining Dickens reading it to his children every Christmas made it much better. I liked that this was a quick review of Jesus's life, and imagining Dickens reading it to his children every Christmas made it much better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joseph R.

    Charles Dickens wrote The Life of Our Lord for his family, so that his children would have a simple and straightforward way to learn about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. He never published it in his life time and bequeathed the manuscript to his son on condition that he not publish it. His son respected his father's wishes but did not lay such a restriction on his own son who published the book in 1933. The book follows the gospel accounts, retelling the many events and teachings in Jesu Charles Dickens wrote The Life of Our Lord for his family, so that his children would have a simple and straightforward way to learn about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. He never published it in his life time and bequeathed the manuscript to his son on condition that he not publish it. His son respected his father's wishes but did not lay such a restriction on his own son who published the book in 1933. The book follows the gospel accounts, retelling the many events and teachings in Jesus's life with simple language. Each parable is followed with a paragraph by Dickens explaining what the parable meant (though not in detail--he doesn't get into the significance of the angry loyal brother in the Prodigal Son). The book is about the length of a gospel, making it easy to read in a short time. I was a little surprised by two omissions. First, Dickens describes how, after being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus went into the wilderness to pray and fast. But he skips the temptations by the devil. Second, he misses the whole Eucharistic significance of the Last Supper! After explaining each parable in turn, it is very odd not even to quote Jesus saying over the bread, "This is My body." Maybe he thought the issue was too complicated for his children (the oldest was twelve in 1849) or he just wanted to focus on the gospel message as a model for behavior rather than a core set of beliefs. Saying anything with certainty is hard since the book wasn't published or discussed in his lifetime. Dickens' summation at the end is typical: Remember!--It is Christianity TO DO GOOD, always--even to those who do evil to us. It is Christianity to love our neighbours as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them do to us. It is Christianity to be gentle, merciful, and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them, or of our prayers or of our love of God, but always to show that we love Him by humbly trying to do right in everything. If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in peace.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Evonne

    I actually had no idea that Dickens wrote so so many books, nor that he was such a kind man. I understood that some of his more famous novels were written, in part, as scathing rebukes on the social structures that allowed poverty and child employment to develop in London. I did not know how deeply and personally he held to those values that condemned these circumstances. He was a pretty humble guy, if this text can be believed. I love that he wrote this for his children, that he refused to have I actually had no idea that Dickens wrote so so many books, nor that he was such a kind man. I understood that some of his more famous novels were written, in part, as scathing rebukes on the social structures that allowed poverty and child employment to develop in London. I did not know how deeply and personally he held to those values that condemned these circumstances. He was a pretty humble guy, if this text can be believed. I love that he wrote this for his children, that he refused to have it published, that it follows so closely the scriptures, that he adds little side notes for his kids, that his great-grandson permitted it to be published and so it's made available to us. What a family legacy. There are some reviews of it that condemn it for not representing theology accurately, saying it reduces Christ to being a good guy, whose mission was merely to do good. These criticisms neglect to consider Dickens' purpose in writing - to make the gospels accessible to children. He never wrote it to be a theological treatise, which may be why he refused to have it published. This reminds me of "The Shack", by W. Young, who wrote it for his children and had not intended to have it published in the first place. Some condemn it for not being of the same quality as Dickens' other works, nor for representing his famous writing style. But he was writing for a wholly different audience, and so his writing voice should reflect that. Besides, he does closely follow the telling in the gospels and so was sticking pretty closely to the original text in many ways - telling bible stories, not his own stories. So, I loved it. Quick, easy read; reveals some insight into who Dickens' was as a father and a human being, and a citizen of his day. Cool. Recommended reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Read a copy (lent to me by Dr. Beach) around 2009. As I recall things, Jesus' work on our behalf is mainly as a good example. In August 2019, I looked at another edition, and Dickens says (Angel speaking to shepherds), "There is a child born to-day in the City of Bethlehem near here, who will grow up to be so good that God will love him as his own son . . . ." Furthermore, the concluding paragraph says three times that "It is christianity to . . ." and never gets to the heart of the gospel. (That Read a copy (lent to me by Dr. Beach) around 2009. As I recall things, Jesus' work on our behalf is mainly as a good example. In August 2019, I looked at another edition, and Dickens says (Angel speaking to shepherds), "There is a child born to-day in the City of Bethlehem near here, who will grow up to be so good that God will love him as his own son . . . ." Furthermore, the concluding paragraph says three times that "It is christianity to . . ." and never gets to the heart of the gospel. (That particular edition has a helpful appendix by D. James Kennedy.) In God and Charles Dickens (blurbed by David Lyle Jeffrey and Susannah Clements), Gary Colledge argues that "Dickens's Jesus is the divine Son of God, the second person of the triune Godhead" (43). Colledge argues that Dickens wasn't trying to say everything that could be said about Jesus' nature, and elsewhere Dickens is clearer about Jesus' divine status (39–43). Still, at best this statement from The Life of Our Lord is misleading. And despite Colledge's serious treatment of The Life of Our Lord, I couldn't find where he addressed that particular (problematic) statement.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Good book. One review I read said this is no literary masterpiece, but it wasn't supposed to be. I feel the same way. A succinct summary of the Life of Jesus Christ. Even as I write this review, I have a sense of difficulty to write anything about Jesus Christ without seeming incomplete. I like how he chooses what to share to illustrate to his children who good Christian people are. Many books are written on the life of our Savior that have impacted me more, but given this was written to his chi Good book. One review I read said this is no literary masterpiece, but it wasn't supposed to be. I feel the same way. A succinct summary of the Life of Jesus Christ. Even as I write this review, I have a sense of difficulty to write anything about Jesus Christ without seeming incomplete. I like how he chooses what to share to illustrate to his children who good Christian people are. Many books are written on the life of our Savior that have impacted me more, but given this was written to his children, its simplicity is good. It jumps from one account to the next so quickly and without much transition, I imagine him reading it and it would be more full of life. The piece I feel it is missing, that I want to make sure my children know, is that Jesus Christ is so much more than a good or miraculous person. He is our Savior.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Eagle

    This isn't a book I thought I would ever see because I've never heard of it before, but I came across it and thought I'd give it a shot. It was charming to think that Dickens was reading this to me, as there are spots where it's clear he's adding personal inflections and addendums for the sake of his children, rather than straight from the Bible. I always respected the man for reflecting what I believe to be true Christian values, so I saw the book as endearing, even if I'm no longer "God-fearing This isn't a book I thought I would ever see because I've never heard of it before, but I came across it and thought I'd give it a shot. It was charming to think that Dickens was reading this to me, as there are spots where it's clear he's adding personal inflections and addendums for the sake of his children, rather than straight from the Bible. I always respected the man for reflecting what I believe to be true Christian values, so I saw the book as endearing, even if I'm no longer "God-fearing" myself.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kw

    Charles Dickens wanted his children to understand who Jesus was, so he wrote, almost as letters, his take on the life of Christ. It isn't perfect, and theologians might wish to alter it to be more scripturally sound, but I still enjoyed and appreciated his effort. The copy I stumbled on has beautiful lettering, copies of Dicken's own handwriting, and colorful flowers to gussy it up a bit. It also explains that the family didn't want it published early on, but later descendants deemed it worthwhi Charles Dickens wanted his children to understand who Jesus was, so he wrote, almost as letters, his take on the life of Christ. It isn't perfect, and theologians might wish to alter it to be more scripturally sound, but I still enjoyed and appreciated his effort. The copy I stumbled on has beautiful lettering, copies of Dicken's own handwriting, and colorful flowers to gussy it up a bit. It also explains that the family didn't want it published early on, but later descendants deemed it worthwhile.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charissa

    This is Dickens’ tribute to the Savior, as told to his ten children over the years. It was a quick, but beautiful story of Jesus’s life, from His birth, through His resurrection, throwing in parables and miracles He did among the people in Israel. Little gems are thrown in of Dickens teaching his children what certain events teach us about being true Christians in the way we live. Very inspiring in its simplicity and beauty.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Brodhead

    Excellent depiction of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ by Charles Dickens. It was written for his children because he wanted them to know of Jesus. This book was not published until the last of his ten children passed away. It also has beautiful illustrations by Simon Dewey.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Love reading this with my children. Such a sweet reminder to share my testimony of our Savior with my own children.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Trace

    A lovely retelling regarding the life of Jesus Christ! My son and I read it together and thoroughly enjoyed it! I'd like to purchase our own copy and read this every December! A lovely retelling regarding the life of Jesus Christ! My son and I read it together and thoroughly enjoyed it! I'd like to purchase our own copy and read this every December!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeslyn

    Lovely little read, only takes a couple of hours. Some wonderful insights into the scriptures and Christ's teachings via Dickens's commentary on the parables, etc. Really enjoyed it. Lovely little read, only takes a couple of hours. Some wonderful insights into the scriptures and Christ's teachings via Dickens's commentary on the parables, etc. Really enjoyed it.

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