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Posted February 29, 2012
A Book To Refer To Again and Again
Here's a volume providing an overview of each book of the Bible with the special emphasis on how that book presents Jesus Christ to us. Quite a catchy emphasis, wouldn't you agree? If you agree that the Person of Jesus Christ with His great mission of redemption is the key of the entire Bible as I do, then this is a worthwhile subject to pursue. Perhaps some books of the Bible reach for a more generalized subject matter and required some stretching on Mr. Williams part to give us the view through the Jesus lens, but the book has real value.
The publisher (Zondervan) asked that I focus on one segment of the Biblical corpus in this review, and I chose the Gospels since that has been a special point of emphasis in my studies for 4 or 5 years now. I thought his explanation of Mark and Luke were superior to those for Matthew and John. I might not personally agree with his ultimate opinion of each Gospel's main theme, but his are worthy of consideration. Books of the Bible, and particularly the Gospels, have such depth that there will never be overwhelming consensus. What we readers need are those key and unique features of the book that will help us wrestle with our own conclusions about the book's theme. Things like Matthew focusing on 5 key sermons, or Mark being geared toward Roman citizens, or Luke being fascinated with the problem of sin, or John highlighting the need to believe. These helpful discussions you will find in this book.
This book covers each book of the bible in around 4 pages. In every case there is a discussion of the theme and some specific "Jesus Lens" comments. These are quite good and are followed by "contemporary implications" and "Hook Questions" that are not quite as valuable. How would you pick the main contemporary implications of an entire book? I fear that would only give us the chance to say anything and yet nothing.
Still, this book is helpful. Don't let the length fool you. It helps with perspective to look at some things from the big-picture viewpoint rather than just long, detailed, scholarly tomes.
Currently, a trend exists in many places to say that the redemptive aspect of every passage is what must be preached or we are just engaging in "moralistic preaching." This is, of course, overdone as such an approach might make us miss what the Lord is actually saying in a passage. I can agree, however, that I should never let Jesus Christ get too far from my thinking in expounding a passage of Scripture or in personally studying it. It is in this vein that this book succeeds.
In my library there is a place for books that help me get the big picture of a Bible book that I am beginning to study, and this volume will take its place there as one that I will always consult. What better recommendation could I possibly give it?
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