Building the Christian library: The Bible Overview

One book which is very useful in the Christian’s library is the book which offers an introduction to, and overview of, the whole Bible.

Such a book is particularly useful when a person with little church background is converted to Christ. For this person, questions like “Why read the Bible?”, “Who wrote it?”, “Where is it going?”, and “How do I interpret it?” are bound to arise. What is needed is a single book which can concisely answer these questions. This type of book will also be a useful resource for the Sunday School teacher, youth leader etc. who is involved in teaching from the Bible. There are two books worth commenting on.

The first is the very brief Scripture Union Bible Guide published by Anzea. This book is ideal for giving to the person who is uncomfortable with books generally, and consequently prefers a shorter, fully illustrated, booklet. In the space of 60 pages the Bible Guide provides an overview of the contents of the Bible, and why and how to read it.

The first half of the book, entitled “Fitting it all together”, outlines the major events of the Bible from creation to new creation. Illustrations give the thread of events, while the accompanying text explains the events and gives useful background information. The next brief section, entitled “God and his people”, gives a ‘theological’ outline of the Bible, and this is followed by sections explaining how we got the Bible, why it is trustworthy, and how to read it. The concluding maps and diagrams (including a Jewish calendar) are clear and helpful. There is also an excellent index which links the text subjects to numerous Bible passages.

In summary, a handy book for giving or lending.

However, a much better investment for the more able reader is John Stott’s Understanding the Bible (Anzea). This book provides an excellent introduction to the Bible and a valuable aid in teaching from it intelligently. It’s great strength is that it clearly shows how the whole Bible focuses on Christ. In the first chapter, entitled “The purpose of the Bible”, Stott points us to Salvation in Christ.

In the chapters that follow, we are given insight into the physical and social geography of Palestine, and then an overview of the history of the Old and New Testaments. Most importantly, this overview emphasizes theologically significant events.

Chapter 5, “The Message of the Bible”, demonstrates the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and shows how they focus on the redemption and adoption we enjoy in Christ.

The final three chapters discuss the authority, interpretation and use of the Bible. Each is theologically sound, and well written. The overall effect is to encourage respect for the Scriptures, expressed in study and obedience.

It is unfortunate that this book has no index, but it is nevertheless an excellent Bible Overview. Highly recommended.

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