Book Review: Papa, Tell Us About The Bible

Papa, Tell Us About The Bible, by Bob Dowell

[Note: This book was sent free of charge by Bostick Communications in exchange for an honest review.]

There are a lot of questions a reader would have upon reading this most excellent piece of didactic drama. For one, even if few publishers like to deal with plays, how could such a polished and worthwhile play [1] end up as a self-published work, even if it is published by Xulon Elite. For another, are the lovely granddaughters of the author, whose black and white photographs grace this book’s cover, happy to written about as dramatis personae? After all, many people do not like being the subject of the writings of others, as some of us know much to our chagrin. Does the author plan on making this book part of a long-running series, given that there is a lot of the Bible left to discuss after this play ends? While many people may not want their writing to be the subject of questions, the foregoing questions ought to make it clear at least that most of the questions that a curious reader could have of the author are good ones, and reflect highly on this work, which ought to be successful in appealing to its well-targeted and broad audience including teenagers, their relatives, youth ministers, and leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which I belonged to when I was the age of the author’s grandchildren, as unlikely as that may seem to others.

In terms of its contents, the play is an orderly and well-balanced four act drama that manages to take its entire 160 or so pages, after introductory material is dealt with, to cover a discussion about the book of Genesis. That leaves 65 books to discuss should the author wish to make a series out of this play. The four acts of the play deal with the period from the Creation to the Flood, the story of Abraham, the story of Jacob and his sons, and the Joseph novella. Each act is divided into scenes, and each acts ends with a poetic summary from the loquacious Hailey, the middle of the granddaughters, who tends to be the most talkative of the three teens. It should be noted, though, that the youngest one, Lori, seems to be a precocious ten or eleven-year old rather than a teen from how she is portrayed, and oldest one, Macy, reminds me of someone who is on the cusp of adulthood, probably sixteen or seventeen at least. As bad as I am at guessing the ages of teenagers, that appears to be the rough estimate of their ages from the way that they talk. The impetus of the play itself springs from the fact that the three young ladies are on their way to a Christian summer camp for the first time ever and are rather insecure given their lack of biblical knowledge for the camp’s bible trivia quizzes, although it must be admitted that the girls appear quick on the uptake and able to understand their grandfather despite his elevated vocabulary and tendency to drone on a bit.

There are a few criticisms that can be made of this work, although it must be said that this play is a fine example of an educational play that merits reading and even performance. It is the sort of family drama that would make for a heartwarming family film, even. Even so, there is a little that can be said against the work, mostly due to the persona of the author himself. For one, while the author delicately deals with such issues as circumcision, he decides to skip over a few of the important but unpleasant aspects of the Genesis narrative, namely: the “she’s my sister” incidents in the lives of Abraham and Isaac, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as a result of their moral degeneracy and social injustice and the resulting incestuous union of Lot with his daughters while he was drunk, the rape of Dinah and the adultery of Reuben with his father’s concubine Bilhah, the story of Judah and Tamar. To be sure, the omitted stories are a bit salacious, but all the same they exist in the Bible for a reason, and while no one likes to deal with rape and incest if they can possibly avoid it, some people don’t have a choice in the matter. Likewise, the author makes use of a lot of suppositions by people like Dante, John Milton, and Jonathan Edwards that cannot quite hold the weight of scripture and that take up a bit too much of the discussion material here. Additionally, the author shows himself misinformed when it comes to dealing with the distinction between Hebrews, a broad overarching identity for the sons of Eber, of which Abraham was one, Israel, which refers to the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, and Jew, which is a narrower identity that properly only describes the descendants of Judah or at its most broad only describes those who settled in the territory ruled over by the line of David after the rebellion of Jeroboam. Even so, despite its flaws, this is a book that ought to please its reader, provide useful instruction in vocabulary as well as the narrative of Genesis and some of its important themes like divine providence, human responsibility, and covenant, and ought to provide a friendly and conversational way for young people and those whose responsibility it is to teach them to address much of the material of the book of Genesis in a thoughtful manner.

[1] Although few people read plays, I enjoy reading and writing about them from time to time. See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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