Book Review: Mastering The Basics: 1 Corinthians

Mastering The Basics:  1 Corinthians, by Lyman Coleman and Richard Peace

This particular volume is the biggest of the series [1], about 120 pages, twice as long as the other volumes in the series.  Bigger is not always better, and that is certainly the case here, as this book would have been much better had the authors decided not to engage in speculation and show themselves to be largely unaware of the contents of the book [2].  One ought not to be surprised that 1 Corinthians would receive so much attention, but it is to be regretted that the authors do not appear to know what the book is about or the approach that Paul had to God’s law.  If there is any book in this series that demonstrates the tone-deaf quality of much of contemporary Christian commentary, this book is certainly a fitting reminder of the fact that without the correct view of God’s ways it is immensely easy to go astray.  And this book goes astray in ways that would be far more entertaining if the book was not about the Bible.  If this were a misguided book on any other subject I would not rate it any higher but I might at least find some humor in the misguided nature of the authors’ understanding.  The higher stakes makes this book a lot less enjoyable than it would be otherwise.

In many ways, the structure of this book is a lot like the rest of this series.  It contains the same introductory material, provides a thirteen or twenty-seven week plan for reading and understanding the book of 1 Corinthians, which would be helpful if the authors understood the book, and contain the same form for the lessons themselves with text, study, group agenda, notes, and comments.  In this book, though, the contents overspill their boundaries enough that the various sections can get more than a little muddled, which made it a bit irritating to read.  This, it should be noted, likely did not help me think more charitably about it.  The book at least gets a few things right, like the fact that we only have one side of the story (namely Paul’s letter), and that having only one side of the story (and that one a difficult one to understand, a problem as a letter writer I understand all too well), and the fact that the book appears to be divided between Paul’s strongly corrected dealing with problems reported to him from the congregation and his answering of questions asked of him, and when we are dealing with books like this we should take any insights as something worth appreciating and noting.

Obviously, there is a lot to criticize about the book.  From its muddled organization to the way that the authors use the inferior Alexandrian text, the book manages to have more problems than the rest of the books in the series.  A few are worth mentioning in particular.  For one, the authors manage to attempt to discuss the laws against incest in Leviticus 18 and the qualities that would keep one from entering into the kingdom in 1 Corinthians 6 and somehow completely fail to understand the importance of God’s laws and their continuing importance for believers.  Likewise, the authors read the introduction to this book (and the other Pauline epistles) and somehow do not fail to get the implications of there only being two beings listed in all of those introductions, namely God the Father and Jesus Christ our elder brother, which leads the authors to engage in all kinds of trinitarian speculation.  On top of this, the authors manage to read what Paul has to say about meat offered in heathen temples and manages to draw from this an entirely unwarranted approval of eating unclean meats.  Authors should not write commentaries of books that they manifestly do not understand.

[1] See, for example:

[2] 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.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Book Review: Mastering The Basics: 1 Corinthians

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Mastering The Basics: James | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Bible Crash Course For The Sunday School Dropout | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Paul The Apostle: Missionary, Martyr, Theologian | Edge Induced Cohesion

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