Book Review: The Whole Bible Story
Reading the entire Bible from cover to cover can be a daunting undertaking. I know there are very many professing Christians who have never accomplished the task. The fact that the Bible is considered the inspired Word of God is intimidating enough, but when that is coupled with the details and intricacies of how the Bible was compiled, the different genres and styles of literature it includes, and the language and cultural contexts that need to be considered there is no wonder why so many people shy away from reading it. And, this is really too bad. The Bible is an incredible, life-giving book and it should not only be accessible to people for reading, but it should be inviting to read. I think this attitude is what motivated Dr. William H. Marty to write The Whole Bible Story: Everything that Happens in the Bible in Plain English.
Writing this book is no simple assignment; there was much to consider and I think Dr. Marty has succeeded in the goals that he set for himself before he sat down to tell the story of the Bible in this book. The goals are shared in the introduction and it is also in the introduction that Dr. Marty explains that some portions of the Bible have not been included in this “whole” Bible story. In full disclosure, the author states “this book skips important information” (Old Testament poetry, wisdom literature, prophecy, and New Testament Epistles). This is important to understand. This compilation is not intended to be another paraphrase Bible, a commentary, or a substitute for the Bible. This is an effort to synthesize the primary message of the Bible, and that is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind through the person of Jesus Christ.
I think this volume has a valuable place in the church library. As already emphasized, many people shy away from reading the Bible because of the (mis)conception that it is complicated, long, and to some extent, lacking relevancy. This book helps to dispel some of that misconception, in my opinion. I like how it is presented on the back cover: “A Bible story book for grown-ups.” I think that is fair; it reminds me of a Cliffs Notes version of the Bible providing a high level view of the story and providing most of the most pertinent information.
The chronological approach to the retelling of the story is good because it helps to keep the narrative in context and flowing. I also found the introduction of the main characters and the setting at the beginning of each chapter very helpful; additionally, the chapter summary at the end of each chapter is invaluable to helping the reader tie together the main point of each section. All of these details are helpful in keeping the story cohesive and meaningful to the reader.
Who would benefit most from this Whole Bible Story? I think most everyone would benefit in some way, but I think Christians who have never read the entire Bible would benefit greatly from it. I think the “main details” approach to sharing the meta-narrative would help the casual reader from getting bogged down in Levitical Laws, Numbers, and entire books of wisdom and poetry. That is not to say these details are unimportant; they are very important, but they can be difficult to read without preparation. People curious to the faith of Christianity would benefit from this book too, and I think there are other great applications for it as well. It would serve as a great example of how to retell the story of the Bible in your own words when sharing the message with other people.
In conclusion, I think this is a great effort. I think it is important to understand the limitations of the book as well as what it is intended for. With this understanding I feel confident in recommending this book for anyone and consider a valuable addition to the resources for sharing God’s word with others.
Check out an excerpt on Scribd here
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”