The Bible book by book
Glossy and floppy
THE BIBLE BOOK BY BOOK
A journey through its people, places, and themes
By Cris Rogers
Monarch Books. 204 pages. £14.99
ISBN 978 0 857 210 166
This glossy and attractive large format paperback gives a four-page overview of each of the books in the Bible. There are beautiful pictures and maps.
The author, Cris Rogers, was teaching pastor of Soul Survivor, is a minister of the Church of England and a speaker at Spring Harvest. The material in the book is designed to appeal to teens and youth workers and some of it appeared as articles in Youthwork magazine.
The writer is keen to combat the idea that Scripture is ‘a tedious book with wild incomprehensible imagery’, which is a worthy objective. He attempts to do this by examining each book under the headings Title and Style, GPS (which means something like geographical and historical setting), Background, The Detail, and Other Books to Read.
The Other Books to Read is disappointing. Tom Wright looms large, being recommended 15 times in the New Testament, but not a whisper of (say) Dale Ralph Davis in the Old Testament. Nor of anything that ties all the books together — like God’s Big Picture (IVP).
We are left in no doubt about the fascinating Jewish background, and Rabbinic views of, for example the shekinah cloud ‘as YHVH’s foot’ (p.22). We are also told concerning Balaam and his ass, ‘[t]he story is Hebraic folklore … talking animals were common in folklore’ (do I see a raised eyebrow?), but are given no citations by which to examine this assertion.
The Details section is often just that. A smattering of interesting details are picked out, but the individual details can leave us without any view of the overall theological thrust of the book — for example, the section on Exodus makes no mention of the tabernacle, despite Exodus 29.46. Glossy, but lacking in theological robustness.
full-time elder of a small church in Bohemian Brighton