The Bible Crash Course For The Sunday School Dropout, by Robyn Downey
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Are you a somewhat new Christian who is embarrassed at a lack of basic familiarity with the contents of the Bible and looking for a quick way to at least demonstrate a basic familiarity with the major sections of scripture? Do you have children in a Sunday School or parochial school and are afraid that other parents will ask simple questions that will expose you as being entirely ignorant of the Bible and its contents? Are you a mainstream Christian who is not looking to have one’s mistaken beliefs about the Godhead or going to church on Sunday instead of the biblical Sabbath challenged by those who actually know what the Bible says? If you answer tends towards the yes, this may be a book for you. I found it entertaining even if more than a little bit basic for my own purposes, and wondered why this book hadn’t been published yet. This book needs to finds its way to traditional publishing, as there is definitely a market for books like this one .
In terms of its contents, the author takes a very basic and straightforward tour through the Bible’s contents. After some brief introductory sections, the author discusses the narrative of the Old Testament including Genesis, Exodus, Judges & Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Daniel and Ezekiel, Ezra and Nehemiah and Esther, Job and Psalms and Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, and then a brief tour of the (remaining) major and minor prophets as well as the silence of the intertestimental period. After that the author looks at the Gospels (her examination of Matthew is the longest), Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation. Many of the short and unnumbered chapters have questions at the end to encourage the reader to think about the contents of the books in question and come to some sort of deeper insights. Obviously, given the author’s own slight knowledge of the Bible and the biblical illiteracy of the book’s target audience, the materials are not going to be too challenging for someone who reads and studies the Bible at greater length. I could see this book challenging some people to read more, at least the narrative sections, and that is no small achievement given the general state of ignorance about the Bible that now exists in even nominally Christian segments of our population.
Again, this book is not perfect. Aside from the omission of writing about the laws of God and their continued importance, something that would be difficult for the author to manage given her likely antinomian background, the author also stumbles on a few occasions in approaching the Bible from her own Hellenistic background. One of the more revealing stumbles, for example, occurs when the author seeks to explain the Trinity, in effect acknowledging the difficulty it places for those of a rational turn of phrase. It would have been nice to read, for example, of the family of God as being a major aspect of scripture, as that concept is not discussed here to any great degree, but much of what is lacking or erroneous in this book springs from the fact that the author’s understanding of the Bible is itself often slight and erroneous. For what it is, the book is solid and ought to amuse even those who know better than the author, even if many people would not be amused that such a book would be so necessary to write in the first place.
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