My Bible weighs in at a whopping 1,708 pages. Contained within those pages are numerous (and hard to pronounce) names, places, and events that can overwhelm those who are reading them for the first time. Most often it is suggested that a new believer should start with the Gospel of John or his first book, but even then it can be hard to pick up the story mid-stream. So what can we do to help them fill in those blanks and fit the many pieces together?
This is where Dr. William H. Marty's book The Whole Bible Story: Everything That Happens in The Bible in Plain English comes in. Marty saw the frustration many new believers experienced when approaching the Bible for the first time. His goal was to write the events of the bible out in story form, allowing the reader to gain a quick overview of these events within the context of the overall storyline. Not a commentary per say, but a bible story, much like the ones we've read to our children, only for adults.
I'm left with mixed feelings on the success of his endeavor. He does cover the historical events, and there is much to be gained in reading this as an overview of the bible and to help one fit the pieces together, but I think there is a real need to thread these events together with more than just a timeline. A new believer would be helped by understanding the narrative by more than just the chronological order. The author intended to leave out commentary and let the events speak for themselves, but a few well placed explanations could have gone a long way in showing the relevance of many of the individual points. I would have loved to have seen this written to expose how God's plan of redemption is woven throughout the whole Bible. This thread would have tied the story together into the person and work of Christ, greatly strengthening the faith of the reader.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to give the impression that the book is of no use. I found it especially helpful in the chapters dealing with the events covered in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The history of Israel and the progression of Kings and wars can get confusing to say the least. Reading these events in condensed summaries did help me to remember them, and in the right order. The book of Genesis is another in which people tend to get lost in the vast amount of time and space. A lot happens between creation and the death of Joseph. Here again this book proves itself handy.
To sum it all up, if your looking for a resource that allows you to quickly wrap your head around the history presented in the Bible, then The Whole Bible Story might just be the book for you. If your looking for more of a theological understanding, then you may want to look for other options.
I'd like to thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me this free copy for review.