The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel

The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel

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by Walter Wangerin Jr.
     
 

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The Bible as a Single, Powerful Story. Here is the entire story of the Bible, narrated by master storyteller Walter Wangerin Jr. Reading like a great historical novel, The Book of God dramatizes the sweep of biblical events, making the men and women of this ancient book come alive in vivid detail and dialogue. From Abraham wandering in the desert to Jesus teaching

Overview

The Bible as a Single, Powerful Story. Here is the entire story of the Bible, narrated by master storyteller Walter Wangerin Jr. Reading like a great historical novel, The Book of God dramatizes the sweep of biblical events, making the men and women of this ancient book come alive in vivid detail and dialogue. From Abraham wandering in the desert to Jesus teaching the multitudes on a Judean hillside, The Book of God follows the biblical story in chronological order. Priests and kings, apostles and prophets, common folk and charismatic leaders--individual stories offer glimpses into an unfolding revelation that reaches across the centuries to touch us today. Wangerin recreates the high drama, low comedy, gentle humor, and awesome holiness of the Bible story. Imaginative yet meticulously researched, The Book of God offers a sweeping history that stretches across thousands of years and hundreds of lives, in cultures foreign and yet familiar in their common humanity. History and fact take on personality and warmth. Wangerin shows you human hands--Abraham raising the knife over his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, a priest offering incense in the temple at Jerusalem, Joseph the carpenter at work with his tools. He shows you human faces--Moses and Aaron face-to-face with the king of Egypt, Mary smiling like a white rose, and Jesus laughing with a Samaritan woman. Gardens, humble homes, olive groves, palaces, temples, and the hills of Judea shining in the afternoon sun--Wangerin makes the places where the events of the Bible took place come to life in the imagination. Wangerin helps you understand what it was like for each person to be caught up in the events of a particular time and place--a time and place where the eternal God somehow reached out and touched ordinary men and women. The book of God is no ordinary book. Written by a born storyteller, it is the magnum opus of one of the most respected and beloved authors of our time.

Editorial Reviews

John Mort
You can't actually turn the compressed language of the Bible, by turns poetic and tedious, into a novel, but Wangerin is a good man to try. He's a former pastor who grew famous with his young-adult fantasy, "Book of the Dun Cow" (1978), and its sequel, "The Book of Sorrows" (1985). Wisely, he begins with another beginning than Genesis: Abraham and Sarah in their childless, embittered old age, destined to sire multitudes. Here and elsewhere, Wangerin allows a trace of his trademark whimsy: Sarah, trying to comfort her aged husband in his disappointment that she has been barren, hints diplomatically that he should try to impregnate a servant girl. Abraham stares at her imponderably; Sarah lowers her eyes and says, "It was just an idea." Quickly, too, the reader understands that Wangerin's novelized Bible is not just a gimmick, but a form of commentary--on faith, for instance, in the merciful God who allows Sarah to conceive Isaac and, equally, in the incontrovertible will of a capricious, jealous God who asks for young Isaac's sacrifice. Something like the ebb and flow and counterpoint in a novel has indeed evinced itself by the end of Abraham's story, but Wangerin's skill shines brightest in his final 300 pages, a synthesis of the Gospels that poetically captures the courtship of a small-town couple named Mary and Joseph, the birth of their son, and the rise, political repression, and crucifixion of a messiah. An inevitable failure, perhaps, but also a gallant effort that is frequently spellbinding.
Christianity Today
'Whether the stories are familiar from childhood or encountered here for the first time, you will be struck by their palpable power. And the sweep of the narrative, like a vast fresco, allows us to see the big picture of God's providence in a way that we rarely do in our fragmented reading of Scripture...exhilarating, but also disturbing.'
Financial Times
'[Wangerin's] aim was to produce a clean, continuous story free of repetitions and genealogies, and to add in bits of cultural and historical background based on his own travels and scholarship. Sometimes he switches the narrational perspective so as to veiw biblical events through the eyes of minor characters. In all this he succeeds....'
Time Out
'Powers along with great stamina for hundreds of pages....The pain of the crucifixion itself is memorably conveyed in terms of lungs, ribs, separating bones. Terse and punchy...it will be read and enjoyed.'
Glasgow Herald
'Reads like 'Gone With the Wind' (of the Holy Spirit) or 'Pride and Prejudice' (plus prophets). Wangerin has done for the biblical kings what Shakespeare did for Macbeth and Richard III....Imaginative, stimulating and fresh....Bubbles with creativity but above all is the work of a craftsman.'
Belfast Telegraph
'An immensely readable and well-organized text and may be an acceptable and more enticing alternative for some people, especially those who -- like me -- always meant to get around to reading all of the original.'
Manchester Evening News
'Considering what he has attempted, Walt does a remarkably good job, and he writes a lot of conventional'
Church Times
'I was hooked...passages such as the account of Solomon's reign, seem to me to work exceptionally well....'

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780310871552
Publisher:
Zondervan
Publication date:
08/03/2010
Sold by:
Zondervan Publishing
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
640
Sales rank:
68,129
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

One
Abraham
An old man entered his tent, dropping the door flap behind him. In the darkness he knelt slowly before a clay firepot, very tired. He blew on a coal until it glowed, then he bore the spark to the wick of a saucer lamp. It made a soft nodding flame. The man's face was lean and wounded and streaked with the dust of recent travel. He began to unroll a straw mat for sleeping but paused halfway, lost in thought.
Altogether the tent was rectangular, sewn of goatskins and everywhere patched with fresher skins of the goat. Across the middle a reed screen hung from three poles, dividing the space into two compartments, one for the man, one for his wife. These two were all that dwelt in the tent. There were neither children nor grandchildren. There never had been.
A vagrant wind slapped the side of the tent so that it billowed inward, but the man didn't move. He was gazing into the finger-flame of the lamp.
Old man. Perhaps eighty years old. Nevertheless, this present weariness did not come from age. In fact, the man had a small wiry body as light and as tough as leather. Nor was his eye diminished. It watched with a steadfast grey light, awaiting interpretation. It was not an old eye, but a patient one.
Not age, then. Rather, the man was made weary by this day's travel and yesterday's war.
His only relative in the entire land of Canaan even from the Euphrates River in the east to the Nile in Egypt was a nephew who had chosen the easier life. Though the old man himself lived in tents, Lot, his nephew, dwelt in the cities of the Jordan valley, the watered places, fertile places, desirable, sweet and green. But lately four kings of the north had attacked and defeated five cities of the valley. One of these was Sodom, the city Lot had chosen. Among the prisoners whom the northern kings carried away, then, was Lot.
As soon as the old man heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he armed three hundred and eighteen of his own men, mounted donkeys, and pursued the enemy with a light and secret speed. In the night he divided his forces. He surprised the northern kings by striking from two sides at once. He routed them. He drove them home. And all their plunder, all their prisoners he brought back to the cities that had been defeated: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, Zoar. Lot was free again, and again he chose Sodom for his dwelling though the men of the place had a reputation for extreme wickedness.
That was yesterday.
Today the king of Sodom had offered the old man all the plunder he'd returned, but the old man refused.
Today the Priest-King Melchizedek had come forth with bread and wine to honor the old man, and he honored him saying:
Blessed are you!
Blessed, too, be the God most high who delivers your foe into your hand!
And today the old man had come back to his tents, again, near the oaks of Mamre, tired.
Today, in the evening, his wife had baked him a barley cake, though he ate scarcely anything and she herself ate nothing at all.
'Is the young man safe, then?' she had asked.
'Yes,' he told her.
'And his children?' she said, looking dead level at her husband. 'How are the children of the man who lives within the walls of houses?'
'Safe,' said the man.
'They are home, then?' she said. 'Lot sits contented among his children, then? Lot looks upon the consolation of his old age, then, because he has an uncle who saves him when his own choices get him into trouble?'
The old man said nothing.
'Because he has a good uncle?' she continued. 'A generous uncle? An uncle whose wife never did put the first bite of barley cake into the mouth of her own child?'
It was then that the old man arose and left his food unfinished. He trudged through the dusk to his own side of the tent and entered and pulled the flap down behind himself and lit the lamp and fell to staring at the single flame, the straw mat only half unrolled in front of him. He was very tired. He was kneeling, sitting back on his heels. He maintained that same posture, unwinking, unsleeping, through the entire first watch of the night. All sound had long since ceased outside. The encampment slept. His wife, finally, had fallen asleep on the other side of the reed screen. She was sleeping alone.
Then, in the middle of that night, God spoke.
Fear not, Abram, God said, calling the old man by name. I am your shield. Your reward shall be very great.
Abram did not move. He did not so much as shift his eye from the orange lamp-flame. But his jaw tightened.
God said, Abram, northward of this place, southward and eastward and westward --- all the land as far as you can see I will give to you and to your descendants forever.
Still motionless and so softly that the wind outside concealed the sound of it even from his own ears, Abram breathed these words: 'So you have said. So you have said. But what, O Lord God, can you give us as long as we continue childless?'
A wind took hold of the tent-flap and lifted it like a linen. The lamp-flame guttered and went out.
God said, Come. Abram, come outside.
On his hands and knees the old man obeyed.
God said, Raise your eyes to heaven. Look to the stars, Abram. Count them. Can you count them?
The old man said, 'No. I cannot count them. They are too many.'
Even so many, said the Lord God, shall be your descendants upon the earth.
With the same gaze as he had earlier turned upon the lamp-flame Abram gazed toward heaven. Now there was no wind at all. The air was absolutely still. Nothing moved in the land, except that the man could hear the sighing of his old wife inside her compartment.

Meet the Author

Walter Wangerin Jr. is widely recognized as one of the most gifted writers writing today on the issues of faith and spirituality. Starting with the renowned Book of the Dun Cow, Wangerin’s writing career has encompassed most every genre: fiction, essay, short story, children’s story, meditation, and biblical exposition. His writing voice is immediately recognizable, and his fans number in the millions. The author of over forty books, Wangerin has won the National Book Award, New York Times Best Children’s Book of the Year Award, and several Gold Medallions, including best-fiction awards for both The Book of God and Paul: A Novel. He lives in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he is Senior Research Professor at Valparaiso University.

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The Book of God 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For someone who is new to the Bible as well as those who are at home in it, this is the book to read. I recommend to anyone who has not read the Bible to read this book first, and the Bible will make much more sense. Faithful to the Holy Scriptures, a skilled and deeply spiritual writer, Walt Wangerin makes reading books about faith fun. This author is for real and so is his book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book a long time ago because of the recommendation of a friend. It sat on my bookshelf and I just couldn't bring myself to get started on it because I expected it to be dull reading. Finally I decided to tackle it and I loved it. I read it in a very short time. I have studied the Bible by bits and pieces my whole life, but this book puts the whole Bible into chronological perspective. I have a much better understanding of the Bible and learned so much from this book. I have already given copies to several friends and told everybody they should read it. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once you start reading this book, you can't put it down. I agree that it looks intimidating by its size; but it seems to go by so fast. I work about 50 hours a week and completed this book within 2 weeks. I had always wanted to read the entire Bible; but found that the Bible was kind of challenging in the interpretation (before NIV). So I decided to start with this book. I'm glad that I did! Once I completed The Book of God, I was compelled to read the Bible just to see if the information correlated. I was happy to see that it did. I recommend this book highly!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i love the way the story is being told. it give more insight to what the saints might have been thinking. it makes them more real and what I believe what might have happened in those times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although this book looks inimidating by its size, and possibly content, it is one of the most magnificent books I have ever read. This novel prepares the bible into stories arranged in chronological order. The stories are prepared passionately and with vivid detail. I couldn't put this book down and the stories and lessons I learned are ones to carry with you - this is one to live by. (I will be reading this one again in the future.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
If I could give this book more stars, I would! What a beautiful picture this paints; the warmth, the feelings, the expressions. I was always told that if I wanted a book with stories of war, love, hate, passion, death, obstacles to overcome, etc., I should read the bible. This tells the stories with a human feel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book to help you learn the bible. High recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started reading from the front, then decided to switch to the NT, so I started again at the Messiah. Amazingly, I did not know that Mary was only 15 and Joseph was 40. I did not know that Joseph was widowed, or that he had no money for dowry, so he repaired her parent's home for dowry. IF all of this is fact, not fiction, it only makes sense that God would choose an older,conservative, respected man for Mary to marry and for them to raise Jesus, because no one would have believed the virgin birth if Mary's mate was her age! I didn't know about Herod marrying Marianna and killing her and their 2 sons, and then how he died with horrible pain all over his body on the way to hot springs to ease his pain. Reminds me of Proverbs where it says wickedness, bitterness and hatred, are like rottenness to the bones!!! Walter, I loved your book. How alive you bring the scriptures to humanity at its worst and best! JoAnne B from Trinity, NC
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book takes you back in time and the descriptions of the culture and scenery makes reading the book like watching a very good movie! I would read a section and find myself saying, 'Wow' I never read it that way and I would go back to the scripture and read it with a renewed love. My particular favorite was the story of Nehemiah and Ezra. I love how he combined their stories to show interaction between these two great men of God. It made the story come alive. I am buying this book for all of my family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a physically large book, but don't let the size scare you! Wangerin does a wonderful, sensitive job of making the Bible a very readable story. This is a great way to get the idea of the whole of the Bible without the long, tedious geneologies and pages and pages of laws. A very enjoyable read, and it doesn't even take that long!
easyreaderOK More than 1 year ago
This book is great for people just starting to read the Bible, or people that have read the Bible many times. I thought it might be hard to read but was so surprised how very much like a novel. It was hard to put down. I would recommend this book to all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The 'Book of God' paints a cohesive picture of the story of Christianity. The Bible stories I read or heard seemed to lack relevance and cohesiveness. Walter Wangerin, Jr. has woven these stories into a relationship of people, places, and events that adds personality to the people, feeling to their relationships, and understanding to the events. The result is a better comprehension of individual Bible stories and a greater appreciation for the story of Christianity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. Makes understanding the bible a little easier.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ll add to more stars ******************************* 7stars
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