Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Bible is Really One Story, not 66 individual books

Many people try. Few succeed. I’m talking about reading through the Bible in its entirety. Plenty of good intentions, but people tend to get lost in the genealogies, the long lists, the censuses, and the laws and the rules.  People who want to read the Bible have heard that it’s a love letter from God, they’ve heard that it’s a compelling read, but all of a sudden, it’s very dry, and there seems to be nothing compelling about it. And when read as a collection of books, it often loses something.
                And that’s why I’m giving Telling God's Story: The Biblical Narrative from Beginning to End (B&H Publishing, 2013) 5 stars.  The authors, Preben Vang and Terry G. Carter do an excellent job of tying the 66 ‘individual books’ together, and manage to show how the Bible is really one story.
                Instead of trying to go one book at a time, the authors discuss the Bible as a series of 14 Episodes, each with 2 or more Acts. The Episodes cover major themes and each Act covers a sub-topic. Episode 12, “This Gospel Shall Be for All People”, for example has four acts covering 1) Pentecost, 2) the Jerusalem church and the early spread of the gospel, 3) Paul’s first 2 missionary journeys, and 4) Paul’s third missionary journey and his arrest and final days.
                Each ‘ACT” is followed by a series of ‘Bible Questions’, ‘Questions to Study and Ponder’, and ‘Assignments’. The book also contains a number of maps showing the location of where things were happening and the routes that were followed. Numerous charts and illustrations add to the value of this book.
                I found the Last Thoughts section particularly useful as it includes a section on worldview and includes a chart with answers to the Big Questions from 3 perspectives: modernity, post-modernity, and the Bible.
                An excellent resource for anyone who is interested in the Bible—that includes new believers as well as those who have been following Jesus for many years. I wish I had had this book while I was in Seminary, and expect that it will be a valuable resource for years to come as each Sunday requires a new sermon based on scripture.
                I can see several uses for this book. Individuals could use it as during their personal devotion time, answering the questions and praying through some of the ‘questions to study and ponder. The questions and assignments would be great discussion starters for a small group or Sunday school class. And of course the book could be used as a text book. The questions and assignments are fairly basic, and since many of the assignments ask for just a few hundred words, I would suggest that the text be used either in high school, or for an “Intro to the Bible”, “Intro to Christianity” or perhaps as part of the curriculum for a comparative religion class.
Again 5 stars for this excellent book which brings to life the grand story of God's story from Genesis to  the Revelation.

I received this book for free from B&H Academic and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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