Thomas Cahill's title comes from Genesis 49:26. Though it is hard to see any reference to Jesus in that passage, it does come close to defining this book's tone. Cahill calls himself "a faithful but flawed Catholic." It is clear that he has thought vigorously about Jesus and is an enthusiastic and able student of his subject. Though he contradicts himself at times, he is clear and consistent when the substance matters. As he writes, "No one's thinking is so well wrought as to be without contradictions."
Like other such studies, this straightforward book begins with the Hellenistic and Roman worlds and the place of Judaism within them ("the people Jesus knew"), then turns to "the Jesus the apostles knew": the "cosmic Christ" of Paul and of "John the Visionary," the gentile Messiah of Luke, and the "Word made flesh" of John the evangelist. Cahill ends with a testament of faith and a consideration of the future.