Book reviews are one of my favorite things to write. One of the perks of writing reviews is that I often receive my complimentary copy of the book before it comes out in bookstores. Now that I’ve written a few reviews, I’m asked to do even more, and I love getting new books in the mail. I flip through the crisp pages knowing the author has spent countless hours creating the work I hold in my hands.
I wonder what it would it be like if I were assigned to write a book review of the Bible. Could I do justice to the holy and inspired Word of God in a review? And what about the parts that I didn’t like as much? Could my readers could accept my honesty if I admitted that some parts, though God-breathed, weren’t so easy to read? How would you write a review of the Bible?
I’d begin with an introduction to the author. Although I’ve never seen him in person, nor have I ever seen a picture of him, I do know him personally. In fact, I talk with him every day, visit his house weekly, and he knew my name and that of every one of my ancestors long before we were born. He’s a kind and loving father who never forgets his children. He’s never written a sequel, since he’s already said all that ever needs to be said. The author doesn’t worry about “royalty” checks since he’s the King of Kings.
Next, I would describe the genre of the book. It’s nonfiction, but does it have a subcategory? It isn’t self-help. It isn’t reference material either. Some would call the Bible a biography of the author, and although readers will learn much about the author just by reading the book, it’s so much more than God’s biography. Others might call it an instruction manual or a history book. Although it contains many instructions and commands, and it has plenty of historically proven facts, that isn’t how I would classify it either.
Some would say it’s a collection of stories suited for bedtime reading like a book of fairytales. Anyone arguing such a silly thing has obviously not read the Bible, or else he hasn’t noticed the complete opposite of happily ever after in many of the stories contained in these pages. Some parts would definitely qualify for stricter than a PG rating for the violent content in the wars of Israel and the beheading of John the Baptist, or for sexually explicit sins such as David’s adultery. So how does a person describe the Bible? Obviously, it stands in a class all its own.
If I could sum up the Bible, I’d describe it more as a love letter, a story of how much God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. It’s a life-changing message of hope in the midst of a dark world. It’s the account of redemption and the promise of eternal life for all who believe on the name of Jesus, but I’ll admit, it’s easy to miss that message and get bogged down in some of the chapters. For example, the book of Leviticus isn’t exactly light reading. Many a time my eyelids have fallen shut while I’m reading the lists of Old Testament rules and regulations. Yet, even here, as God’s people learned about the rules of sacrifice, we see the thread of redemption and the beauty of God’s covenant relationship with his people.
It has sold billions of copies, and the Bible tops the list of all-time best sellers in the world. God wrote his Word thousands of years ago and it’s still timeless. But have you read it? In most of my reviews, I show my readers the benefit of buying the book, but I suspect that most of you already own several copies of God’s Word. Instead, I urge you to open your Bible and read it with fresh eyes, with a heart ready to hear the words of God who loves you enough to write a book with a message just for you. I could write a stellar review, but why waste your time reading my words? God’s Word is much more worthwhile.
This article reprinted as it appeared in the June 2010 issue of Wisconsin Christian News in Michelle's "Habits for Quality Living" Column.