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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bible Savvy Series (Jim Nicodem)

TITLE: Bible Savvy Set of 4 books (Bible Savvy Series)
AUTHOR: Jim Nicodem
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013.

This is a unique Bible resource that comprises an overall Bible storyline, that offers a defense of the Bible, that supplies tips for understanding the Bible, and for application purposes. Together, they form a basic class for laypersons to better appreciate the Bible. Here is my summary of the books followed by some brief thoughts about the whole series.

Book I - Epic, The Storyline of the Bible (190 pages)

The Bible is essentially one big story. Out of nothing, Genesis records the story of creation, the Fall, and at the same time, leads to "Redemption Prompted." Right from the beginning, God had redemption in mind. From Genesis to Song of Songs, this redemption process is given greater emphasis through "Redemption Prepared." Through Abraham, the Exodus, Ruth, Israel, and despite the idolatry and rebellion of God's people, the redemptive process remains intact not because of man, but because of God's faithfulness in keeping the covenant. "Redemption Prophesied" continues the promises of God through Isaiah to Malachi. We read of how the prophets remind people of God's laws, warn them about judgment, and urge the people to repent. They proclaim the coming of Christ faithfully. The gospels of Matthew to John proclaim the "Redemption Purchased" with brief thoughts on each of the gospels specific emphasis. For example, Matthew is written to Jews, Mark for Gentiles, Luke for the world, and John for all to believe that Jesus is the Christ. Acts to Jude is summarised as "Redemption Proclaimed of early Church life and the witnessing of the Gospel. Finally, Revelation is called "Redemption Perfected" as we look toward the Second Coming of Christ. In one word, the Bible is about Redemption.

Book II - Foundation, The Reliability of the Bible (144 pages)

The entire Christian faith is dependent on the authority of the Bible. If the Bible is not authoritative, then there is no faith. If the Bible cannot be trusted, there is no reason to study or revere it. This book brings about four phases to demonstrate the reliability of the Bible. Firstly, God is the one who has authored the Bible, using human people. The "Doctrine of Inspiration" is not about how the writers are inspired or how readers are inspired. It is about the words in the Bible that are God-breathed.  It is supernatural because of factors such as historical accuracy, fulfilled prophecy, miracles, durability, consistency, and most importantly, transformed lives. Secondly, God preserved the Bible through careful transmission over thousands of years. The canonization process is not about Church councils declaring the Bible as canon. The Bible was already recognized as authoritative and the councils basically formalized the canonization process. Thirdly, the doctrine of revelation tells us that the Bible reveals God's attributes, God's salvation plan, and the gospel. Fourthly, Nicodem encourages greater Bible literacy through reading, listening with discernment, studying, and memorizing Scripture.

Book III - Context, How to Understand the Bible (160 pages)

This third book is about interpreting and understanding the Bible. The context can be understood in four ways. First, there is the historical setting, that the Bible is wrapped up with objective facts, and not some whimsical fantasy. One way to pursue the historical contexts is through the journalism questions: Five Ws: "Who? What? When? Where? Why?" Second, the literary setting is about understanding the categorization of each Bible book, in terms of laws, narratives, letters, poetry, parables, etc. Tips are given on how to understand ceremonial laws from moral principles; reading poetry and epistles, etc. Third, the theological setting leads readers toward applications. Using cross references, concordances, study Bibles, and systematic theology resources, one can appreciate theology more, and not simply relegate it to the theologians. Four, the "Immediate Setting" is about applying the Bible for our modern settings. There are tips on choosing the appropriate Bible translation, how to study the Bible, avoiding faulty interpretations, and understanding both the ancient and the modern contexts well.

Book IV - Walk, How to Apply the Bible (142 pages)

Book Four of this series brings together all the hard work of the earlier three books, toward applications. Four major sections are described. The first section points to the Bible as light for all of our paths. It shows us the way. It reveals God's will. It brings light and clarity to our lives. The second uses the acronym COMA to demonstrate how the text can come to life. C is for Context where the four contexts mentioned in Book 3 are brought together. O is for Observation where we learn to be sensitive to the way the Word is put. M is for Message where we ask ourselves about what God is trying to teach us. One example is to use the SPECS (Sin to Confess / Promise to Claim / Example to Follow / Command to Obey / Statement about God). Finally, A is for Application which makes the Bible personal. The third section applies COMA to a few Bible passages so that readers can learn to apply the same to other passages. The fourth section encourages readers to adopt a daily discipline of reading, studying, and applying the Word of God to their lives.

Overall Thoughts

I must say that the simplicity of the Bible Savvy series is the key strength of the book. It is not easy to summarize all 66 books into four separate books with different purposes and intent. The aim of this series is to give general readers a four-part introduction to the Bible. For Book I, James Nicodem has streamlined the Bible into a basic redemption theme. While it is simple and easy to understand, it can become overly reductionistic. The Bible is really much more than mere redemption. In fact, it is more revelation of God to man, including the revelation of redemption. Yet, for the hugely condensed storyline, it is important to remember that this storyline is but one of many ways to view the Bible. I appreciate the summary of the Bible Table of Contents on the Appendix section. Book II is a good defense of the authority and reliability of the Bible. Described in simple terms, readers can get a bigger and better idea of the canonization of the Bible. Book III is a good introduction to contextual learning and understanding the Bible's ancient times. Book IV gives readers a good primer on how to apply the Bible.

I recommend this book for basic Bible classes for its sheer clarity and simplicity. It is hoped that this series can whet the appetite of Bible believers so that they can spring toward deeper stuff. One more thing. Although each of the volumes can be purchased separately, it is best to purchase all four together as they form the whole storyline of the BibleSavvy series.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Moody Publishers without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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