Book Review: The Biggest Story

The Biggest Story:  How The Snake Crusher Brings Us Back To The Garden, by Ken DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark

The best part of this book is probably the interesting and deeply symbolic imagery.  As far as the book is concerned, it is an attempt to take the Bible and make it more accessible to younger readers [1].  This attempt is not entirely successful, and it is not exactly clear why.  Part of the difficulty, at least, relates to the fact that the person telling it is a somewhat strident Calvinist writer, and the tone of this book is at least part of the difficulty in fully appreciating it, as he distracts the reader from the tone of history to spend a great deal of time haranguing the ancient Israelites.  This is, admittedly, not a difficult task, but is somewhat undercut by the fact that the author himself shows no loyalty to the laws and ways of God that he abuses the Israelites for disobeying.  At any rate, while this is part of the problem it is not the whole problem, as the author’s insistent way of calling Jesus Christ the snake crusher because of the imagery of the protoevangelium is somewhat odd as well.

At any rate, this short book, liberally illustrated and ten chapters, manages to focus its attention at least some of the time on the grand narrative of the Bible.  The book begins with a focus on the Garden of Eden and mankind’s sin (1) along with the early wickedness that included Cain’s murder of Abel, the flood, and the dispersion of mankind at the tower of Babel (2).  After this the author discusses God’s calling of Abraham and God’s continued work with the patriarchs despite their being flawed (3) as well as God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt (4).  A brief discussion of the laws of God and the blessings and curses for obedience and disobedience and a very abbreviated discussion of Israel in the time of the Judges follows (5) before the author discusses the early monarchs of Israel and how they were either great disappointments like Saul and Solomon or served God despite human flaws, like David (6).  Strangely skipping over the exile, the author talks about how God sent many prophets but then was silent for hundreds of years (7) before we come to the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem and the course of his righteous life (8).  The book then closes with a discussion of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (9) and a summary of the promises for his return (10).

Given that this book is clearly an abbreviation of the large narrative arc of the Bible, it is worth praising the book for at least grasping that idea pretty well.  That is not to say that it does its job perfectly.  The author, for example, teases but does not go into the New Jerusalem as the restoration of Eden, and may conflate that with the Millennial blessings promised to mankind after the return of Jesus Christ.  The author does not appear aware of the fact that God and Jesus Christ are looking for human beings to be a part of their family, which adds considerable emotional heft to the continual rejection of God’s ways by humanity.  The author also does not discuss the church age to any great degree, bringing in Jesus Christ so late in the story that there is little time to discuss anything between his resurrection and return.  I am not sure how I would want to see those problems corrected, but although this is certainly a book that means well and tries hard, it just does not quite succeed at conveying the master narrative of the Bible in a compelling way.

[1] 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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