The Most Important Stories Of The Bible, by Christopher D. Hudson and Stan Campbell
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Any time a book of less than 200 pages purports to tell the most important stories of the Bible, I get at least a little bit suspicious. That isn’t to say that such books are not often good, as this book is good, but it is rather that authors and readers alike invariably have different opinions on what the most important stories of the Bible are, especially to the extent that both are well-versed about what stories are in the Bible, and the best way to ensure that there is more agreement about such subjects to make books that are long enough to include more stories of the Bible, and thus more stories that the reader will appreciate. The authors fail to understand this particular problem, even though they do pick some good (and sometimes obvious) choices as to the most important stories of the Bible, even seeking to move beyond the narrative portions of the Bible to include parables and prophecies as well (although, sadly, not much in the way of psalms).
This book is, as I said, less than 200 pages, and it begins with a short introduction that reminds the reader that much of what follows are Sabbath school stories that many people are familiar growing up with. After that the book looks at six stories at the beginnings of human history and then stories involving the patriarchs of Genesis as well as Job. After that come stories of Israel’s family becoming a nation going from the Exodus to Ruth and Boaz. This leads into still more stories about kings and prophets starting with the call of Samuel and going to Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. After that there are a great many stories of Jesus taken from the Gospels and then a few stories of the early church to close the book, along with acknowledgements and some notes about the authors. Each of the larger sections of the book includes a timeline that shows the author’s beliefs about the approximate times that the various events referred to, and each of the stories themselves begins with a continuation from the previous one, a note on the essential story being told, and then a pithy lesson at the end.
By and large this is an easy book to appreciate and despite its title its aims are generally pretty modest and the book is aimed at an audience that likely doesn’t know or remember the most important stories of the Bible. For those who do know the Bible well, the authors do not include nearly enough unfamiliar or obscure stories to find agreement with those who like unfamiliar and obscure stories, and the ordering of some of the stories (especially in the section on kings and prophets) is more than a little bit strange and not very chronological in nature. That said, even if I disagree with at least some of the chronology, and think that the stories could have been ordered area, my biggest issue with the book is that it is not simply big enough. And as that is not a problem that the authors are going to solve while aiming for a beginner’s market of small books, one must either simply wait for sequels (“Even More Important Stories From The Bible,” or something like that) or one must simply not hold such flaws against authors who are clearly hoping to make their readers more familiar with Bible stories, an end I wholeheartedly support.