Reader’s Guide to the Bible

This book is not what you think it is, but it also might be exactly what you need. John Goldingay is brilliantly simple (not simplistic) in explaining the Bible for its readers two-thousand plus years after its inception. In order to understand the purpose of this book, one must read the first three pages of the book. In these pages, Goldingay presents a classic theological understanding that the Bible is God’s book but also gives credence to human authorship. God did not “drop” the Bible out of heaven, though that could certainly have been the case, instead is a work of human art guided and given authority by God.

First, Goldingay presents the historical context of the lands and cultures in which the biblical events take place and tell of within the Bible’s pages. Here he does so without explicitly referring to Scripture, for Scripture is not an objective account of history (though it contains history!). Rather, he looks at the social, political, economic, and religious aspects of the societies of the Ancient Israelites to help the reader grasp the understanding of the original context of these writings. It is key when reading the Bible to understand the “when” and “where” these events took place, though the writing of them did not occur until some time later.

Second, the Bible is God’s story and God’s people. In this section, the narrative portions of Scripture (story portions) are given attention. These portions start with, “In the beginning”, and end with what Christians see as the climax of the biblical narrative the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In each of these sections, Goldingay gives careful and cogent analysis of each book.

The third section deals with the biblical texts that explicitly teach or preach. This includes the books of the Law, the epistles of Paul and other disciples, as well as books dealing with praise, wisdom, doubts, and certainties (Ecclesiastes, Job, and the Writings).

Finally, he concludes with the applicability of the Bible for us today, mainly focusing on the Old Testament. Goldingay concludes that we relate easily to the New Testament but not necessarily to the Old Testament. Thus, he concludes with six reasons why we should use the Old Testament more and how those texts apply to us.

This is a fantastic primer on the Bible. I hope you will grab this book and dig into the biblical text.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from InterVarsity Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and a positive review was not required. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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