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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"The New Covenant" (Bob Emery)

TITLE: The New Covenant
AUTHOR: Bob Emery
PUBLISHER: Charlottesville, VA: BenchPress Publishing, 2012, (436 pages).

There has been several books that have attempted to tell the story of the Bible through narratives and fictional conversations. With the facts of the Bible as the background, authors generally will attempt to do their best guess on what exactly happened in a way that engages the reader like a fiction novel does. Some of them includes Walter Wangerin Jr's "The Book of God," which also tells the story of the Bible as a novel. This book by Bob Emery falls in the same genre of narrative storytelling, using the "New Covenant" as the big idea that holds three major sections together.

Written as a series of dialogues between the apostle John, Titus, and Paul, the entire period begins at the Garden of Gethsemane, and ends with Revelation. The author, President and Founder of Global Opportunities for Christ has two main purposes for writing this book. The first is to be able to retell the story of the New Testament and to describe the events of the early Christians and their struggles. The second purpose is to draw out spiritual lessons for contemporary times. At 436 pages, the book is a thick read like some of the 400-500 pages novel. For Emery, the key reason why he wrote this book is to instill in readers a proper understanding of the New Covenant.

In Section One entitled, "The Messenger," the narrative looks closely at the circumstances surrounding Jesus' crucificion, his resurrection, his ascension, and how the New Covenant was established. With John as the first person, the fictional conversations between him, Titus, Paul, and others record the story of how the gospel spreads from Jerusalem to the rest of the world.

Section Two, "The Message" centers on how the covenant appears like in the minds of first-century believers, and how it has caused many conflicts and controversies over the New Testament books. He notes well that the 27 books of the Bible was canonized on the basis of a "previously established authority" rather than a brand new one conferred by the Synod of Hippo in AD 397. The stories weave in all the circumstances that lead to the formation of the 27 books of the New Testament.

Section Three, "The Marriage" is a dramatic narrative on John's personal commentary on the book of Revelation. It tries to explain what Revelation is from the standpoint of the same Apostle who wrote it.  Beginning with the 1967 many emphases on Bible Prophecy, the second coming of Christ, and the interest in eschatology, Emery relooks at the book of Revelation and gives several interesting observations of the end times. Like Revelation, there is a lot of symbolism described, showing how Old Testament and New Testament prophecies come together toward a climactic end.

So What?

This is a big book and I am amazed at how the author is able to cover so much ground. It is not a book of history. It falls under the genre of historical fiction. Weaved into it is Emery's personal interpretations of the Bible and his theological understanding. Emery has put in a lot of effort to be faithful to what the Bible is saying. He uses many biblical references and information to back up his claim. At the same time, he exercises creativity and imagination to string together a series of conversations that lead up to a main message. Due to the lengthiness of the novel, it is hard for readers to quickly find out what the author is talking about. In other words, the book is not a quick read. It is an extensive conversation, more like a play that requires users to follow the thread closely so as not to lose the flow. If readers are unable to put in the time to read this book in its entirely, the benefits will be minimal. That said, I struggle to find anything "dramatic" about it. Even though each chapter is brief, what would have helped will be diagrams and sectionings within each chapter so that major points can be emphasized for readers who may be lost in the words and conversations, or for anyone who may have missed the flow somewhere.

Rating: 3.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of BenchPress Publishing and Speakeasy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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