God’s Story In 66 Verses: Understand The Entire Bible By Focusing On Just One Verse In Each Book, by Stan Guthrie
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
To be sure, this book was written with ambitious aims. At about 220 pages of main material, it is meant as a way to introduce readers to the overall story arc of the Bible by focusing on one verse in every single one of the 66 canonical books to be found in Protestant Bibles. The author admits that the Hebrew Bible would have fewer books but the choice is made to go with the Bibles that the reading audience is familiar with, and this book is aimed clearly at Evangelicals. It is no surprise to say that reading this book will not cause one to understand the Bible, although it is an able cliff’s note outline version of the Holy Scriptures, and one that attempts to provide a balanced look at many of the tensions that exist in interpretation of scripture between law and grace, faith and works, mercy and judgment. To the extent that readers appreciate the depth of such themes in the Hebrew scriptures, which take up a majority of this balanced book, it will be a successful one.
That does not mean it is a perfect book. There are some notable flaws in the book, some of which are minor quibbles like its relegating notations to its sources (which show an Evangelical and Calvinist perspective) to the little-read and very brief appendix section, overt advertising for the ESV version of the Bible, and some of which are far larger problems. Among the most serious problems is an occasional incoherence (one that may not be recognized by the author) in terms of its view towards God’s commandments. On the one hand, the author strongly condemns viewing Christian liberty as license, but then turns around and talks about how Christians are no longer under the law in one chapter while saying in another chapter that we must worship God on His terms and not our own. One wonders whether the author’s religious upbringing is responsible for the cognitive dissonance that allows for a clear understanding of what the Bible says in some books while totally misunderstanding other books because he has never read them without the blinders of bogus theology. Thankfully, such moments are rare, and fairly predictable (Galatians, Colossians).
The author wants to make sure that readers understand the verse in every book of the Bible that he considers the most important for the overall theme–they begin each chapter of the book (one chapter for each book of the Bible), are often quoted in context in those chapters, and then are quoted in isolation in the Appendix. This is the sort of book  that could very easily inspire biblical trivia conversations, and debates as to whether these verses were indeed the best. In some cases, I would have chosen different verses as representative ones than the ones the author chose, but all of the verses are defensible and all provoke deeper thought as to the relationship between God and man, and the passionate nature of God as well as the issues that are at the heart of worship. This is by no means a perfect book, and it definitely ignores some areas of great importance (the pivotal role of the Sabbath in God’s plan among them). Even given these flaws, though, it is a worthy book that should encourage its readers to read the Bible more carefully and with a greater focus on overall continuity and unity, and this can only be a good thing.
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