Archives For Bible

 

Developing the Bible and Faith
Through Story

A Feature Review of 

What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything
Rob Bell

Hardback: HarperOne, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Josh Morgan

Books on the Bible are a dime a dozen, with some worth even less than that. Much ink has been spilled on the nature of the Bible and interpretations of various passages. Often, these books are either overly academic, unrelatable to many readers, or intellectually unsupported.

Rob Bell’s latest text, What is the Bible?, is none of these things. In his book, Bell tackles a variety of Scripture passages in order to better help us understand the fundamental nature of the modern Christian Bible. In short, Bell actually answers his book’s titular question with its subtitle: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything. The Bible is intended to transform our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions through a variety of narrative methods in order to better respond to the world we live in.

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Reading with Creative Anachronism 
 
A Feature Review of 

Biblical Truths: The meaning of Scripture in the 21st Century.
Dale Martin

Hardback: Yale UP, 2017.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Jordan Kellicut
 
 
Biblical Truths: the meaning of Scripture in the 21st Century is billed as a ground-breaking book which seeks to give a framework for how to think theologically in light of our postmodern world. From the first page Martin lays out intriguing and frequently scandalous methods of interpretation. His introduction is a critical introduction to his thesis and methodology. Martin argues, rather persuasively, that there is a difference between pre-modern and modern Biblical interpretation. Namely the pre-modern Christian assumed that everything in the Bible was written to that person, in that place and that time. Thus the meaning of the text was not necessarily what the author meant. This is striking since the prevailing thought in both academic and popular understanding is the meaning of a text is located not “in” but “behind” the text – what I learned to call “authorial intent.” A substantial amount of Martin’s introduction is dedicated to tracking how this hermeneutic progressed into modern theology. He then contends that the division between Bible and theology is a modern invention and not a helpful one.

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How Shall We Then Read the Bible?
 
A Feature Review of 

Saving the Bible from Ourselves:
Learning to Read and Live the Bible Well
Glenn Paauw

Paperback: IVP Books, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by James Dekker

 

Saving the Bible from Ourselves is one of those rare books that I wish were longer. A longer book might require delving into issues still more sensitive than Glenn Paauw already takes up. Exploring controversial themes might risk challenging unofficial, but strongly accepted Bible reading practices among Paauw’s intended audience. That is, “how to read” could veer onto significant, but bumpy paths of “how to interpret.”

For example, Saving the Bible’s greatest strength is Paauw’s repeated emphasis that readers must respect and learn to read the Bible’s various literary genres as originally intended. Thus he frequently emphasizes that Bible readers—laypersons, teachers, pastors—read the Bible’s histories, stories, poems, letters, gospels and apocalyptic visions first to understand their messages to original readers.  Only after rigorous analysis and wrestling with the texts’ earlier times and cultures is it fair to discern the meaning and application for today.

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Tiptoeing Into Ancient Spiritual Formation

 A Review of 

Transformed by God’s Word—Discovering the Power of Lectio and Visio Divina
Stephen Binz


(icons by Ruta and Kaspars Poikans)
Paperback: Ave Maria Press, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 

Reviewed by C.S. Boyll

 

Catholic Bible scholar and speaker Stephen J. Binz, in Transformed by God’s Word—Discovering the Power of Lectio and Visio Divina, persuaded me to do something in Bible meditation that I’ve never done before. But, before I confess to what I did, let’s discuss Binz’s transformative possibilities for lay readers, both Catholic and Protestant.

I hope the Latin words Lectio Divina and Visio Divina don’t put off readers because of unfamiliarity.  Lectio Divina or “sacred reading” is simply meditating on a Bible passage with attentiveness to what the Holy Spirit desires to form in one’s heart and mind. Binz writes, “Rather than keeping scripture at a safe analytical distance, this formational reading leads us to personally encounter God through the sacred text. It opens us to personal engagement with God’s word. We involve ourselves intimately, openly, and receptively through what we read. Our goal is not just to use the text to acquire more knowledge, get advice, or form an opinion about the passage. Rather, the inspired text becomes the subject of our reading relationship, and we become the object that is acted upon and shaped by scripture. Reading with expectation, we patiently allow the text to address us, to probe us, and to form us into the image of Jesus Christ.”

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Learning to Let Go.

A Feature Review of

The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More than Our “Correct” Beliefs
Peter Enns

Hardback: Harper One, 2016.
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Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

 

The book of Hebrews declares that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). The author of Hebrews tells us that our spiritual ancestors received approval for their faith, even though they could not see their hopes come to fruition. To live by faith is to trust your life to a God who remains unseen. Nevertheless, many of us have a need more certainty than this. There is a need on the part of many for a bit more definition of the faith. That leads to a desire for what Peter Enns calls “correct” beliefs. Whether those correct beliefs emerge from Scripture or from tradition, they offer a sense of certainty. Peter Enns learned the hard way that this can be dangerous. Thus, he concluded that the search for certainty is in itself a matter of sin.

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

 

The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture

By Pamela Haag

Read a review of this book from The New Republic

NEXT BOOK >>>>>

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Part of Who We Are As Human Beings

 
A Review of

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus:
Prostitution and Religious Obedience in the Bible
Chester Brown

Hardback: Drawn & Quarterly, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]
 
Reviewed by Jon M. Sweeney
 
 
I can’t imagine how this graphic novel of biblical stories is going to sell a lot of copies. Sex and violence are common in this genre, but not so much serious biblical criticism, and pages 173-270 here are all afterword, notes, and bibliography, in which author/artist Chester Brown recounts (in the same tiny, hand-drawn type of the comics themselves) his indebtedness to scholars like John Dominic Crossan and Yoram Hazony, and makes learned references to works as ideologically divergent as Strong’s Concordance and Lynn Bauman’s translation of The Gospel of Thomas. Chester Brown is what one might call an independent scholar. He says he was led to this subject because of a passion for sex-workers’ rights.

Brown is a Canadian by birth. He grew up in Quebec and now lives in Toronto. He’s 55 years old and has been writing comics since Ed the Happy Clown in the early ‘80s. After that strange work, which garnered him a sort of underground following, he began writing autobiographical comics, and that’s continued to this day. I wrote a bit about this trend (not about Brown, but others) in one of my recent review articles in America magazine.

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A Very Good Book.

 
A Feature Review of 
 

The Good Book: Writers Reflect on their Favorite Bible Passages
Andrew Blauner, Editor

Hardback: Simon and Schuster, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis
 
 
It’s really a very good book, this anthology of reflections about the Bible. In some ways, it’s like having an amazing chat with friends about biblical texts about which they are passionate, except that these authors are far more eloquent and eclectic than my thirty-two closest friends. The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages is a wonderfully rich assortment of essays by an array of thoughtful, reflective, sometimes witty, often reverent writers. Representing a variety of faith perspectives or none at all, these essays offer the reader delicious morsels of goodness that invite the reader to question, ponder and consider the limitless ways in which readers encounter the Bible.

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Biblicism After Blomberg

A Feature Review of
 

Can We Still Believe the Bible?
An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions
Craig L. Blomberg.

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Michael Kallenberg

 

The questions Blomberg addresses in Can We Still Believe the Bible? arise from six areas of study that are frequently fraught with misconceptions and distortions from a cacophony of both liberal and conservative voices. To this grating mix, he offers a gracious response. The book consists of candid examinations of the following controversial issues that surround the reliability of the Bible: the results of textual criticism, the selection of books for the canon, the recent proliferation of English translations, the definition and application of inerrancy, the recognition of literary genres that are not straightforward history, and the centrality of miraculous accounts.

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Comforting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable?
 
A Review of

Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels

Cathleen Falsani and Jennifer Grant

Hardback: Jericho Books, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Jonathan Schindler
 
What happens when a group of contrarians and misfits writes a book of essays about the Bible? You get Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels, which editors Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani hail as “not your mama’s Our Daily Bread”—a “devotional” that strives to wrestle with the bits of the Bible that don’t often make their way into mission statements or adorn decorative wall hangings.

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