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Monday, March 23, 2015

"God's Story in 66 Verses" (Stan Guthrie)

TITLE: God's Story in 66 Verses: Understand the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book
AUTHOR: Stan Guthrie
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015, (256 pages).

This book is not about summarizing the Bible in one verse. Neither is it about understanding the Bible just by focusing on that special verse. It is about entering into the Big Idea of the Bible book using that verse as an initial handle. Like a regular book with a table of contents at the beginning, each of the 66 chapters in this book focuses on one verse, taken from each of the 66 books of the Bible.  Guthrie calls it "one verse at a time." They are like strategic windows to explore the various rooms of a sprawling mansion.  Following the entry, Guthrie gives a very brief commentary about the rest of the Bible which often leaves readers gasping for more.

In an increasingly Bible illiterate generation, books like these will become more popular as people want some quick summaries to anything thick and time consuming to study. This generation thrives on snippets that are short, sweet, and simple. Guthrie rides on this wave by providing snippets of each Bible book from both the Old and New Testaments in the hope that readers will dig into the Bible with earnestness and purpose. It is not a substitute or a quick-fix approach to understanding the Bible. It is an entry into the story. Stan Guthrie is Editor at large with Christianity Today and has written many books pertaining to the Christian life and culture. Well established in the publishing world, he is a literary agent who helps authors to design and present book proposals to various publishing houses. His skill is reflected in this book which is a brief overview about each Bible book. At the same time, he enlists the help of ESV Bible scholars, Mark Dever, and Walter Elwell to guide him in outlines that are "exegetical, theological, and technical" from a Reformed angle.

Is this book for newbies? Yes of course. It makes the reading of the Bible a little less intimidating by giving newbies a beginner's look at the key themes of each book. Having said that, it can also be misleading because the Bible books can have more than one theme, depending on who you ask. The Holy Spirit is ultimately the Teacher as the Word of God can never be summarised into any one or two statements or pages. The best summary of truth is how one lives out what the Bible teaches.

Is the book for long time believers? Yes too. It helps streamline and revise one's reading. By putting forth one verse as the focal point, readers can re-align their previous learning and form a bigger idea of what the Bible is saying. At the same time, the overview across all 66 books can give believers a bird's eye view of the Big Story Narrative so often missed when we focus only on tiny percentage of the Bible whether in our Bible studies, devotional reading, or sermons we hear. The verses selected could very well vary according to who is reading it. We can dispute which is the main theme. We can even argue for more than one verses to be the title of each chapter. That is not necessary because the purpose of the book is not to explain the entire Bible. It is to provide a snippet for us to read more for ourselves. Overall, this book has a great idea and should spark some renewed interest and energy into reading the Bible more. If it has caused you to want to read the Bible more, it would have worth every single cent you spend on this book.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Thomas-Nelson via the BookLook Bloggers Network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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