In the last year I have read four “Bible at a glance” type books. Why undertake such a task? Why zoom out to the 10,000 foot level and take in the Bible in overview fashion? It seemed like a good idea at the start, and in fact the endeavor became a remarkable faith booster. We can easily get lost in the chapters and verses (added late in history) and forget that the entire Book is God’s gift to us. I was reminded of the huge blessing of owning a Bible as I marveled over photos from an acquaintance who has devoted his life to translating the Scriptures into languages for small people groups in Africa.
Which overview books did I read?
100 Bible Stories for Children, published by Tyndale. I was honored to review this book pre-publication and add my comments to Amazon, Goodreads, and Tyndale’s site. Interested readers can find my review at 100 Bible Stories for Children. This work covers the major Bible stories we all know and love in a format geared to kids and to parents desiring to read aloud to the kids. How easy it is to forget that the characters in the Bible are real people living real lives, undertaking exciting adventures, and wrestling with the same issues that challenge us today.
The Whole Bible Story by Dr. William H. Marty, published by Baker books. The book advertises itself as covering “everything that happens in the Bible in plain English.” My copy is the illustrated version which includes images, diagrams, and maps. The author states that the book “is not a paraphrase of the Bible’s sixty-six books, and it is not intended to replace Bible reading.” His desire is to present the storyline without the laws, sermons, and prophecies so the reader might acquire a foundational overview that will enhance an in depth study of Scripture.
Bible History Catechism published by the Lutherans and belonging to my wife’s late grandmother, Wanda Eddy. This book distills the Bible’s major teachings (doctrines) into a concise format. I did not know what to expect, but I can share that the book surprised me. See, I grew up among Baptists, specifically right-wing Fundamental Baptists, and hobnobbing with Lutherans (or Methodists or even Presbyterians) was frowned upon. A solid Bible-believing Lutheran following the teachings covered in this catechism book holds beliefs fairly close to the doctrines of the Baptists. But don’t tell anyone. The Baptists have their minds made up. Relax, people. It’s OK to chuckle at ourselves.
Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible published by the John C. Winston Company (the 1947 printing). I think this one is out of print now. My copy was a Christmas present (1948!) from Wanda and William Eddy to their son, Tom, who is my wife’s father. Tom Eddy recently passed the book to me, and it is a classic for kids and adults. Hurlbut captures the major characters, events, and teachings of the Bible into a collection of easy-to-read stories, each tagged with its corresponding Bible reference. With the author’s conversational style the reader is drawn into the moment, and I found myself stopping often to consider the words spoken or the insight or clarification Hurlbut had added.
What did I glean as I worked through these books?
- A thorough review of the Bible’s characters, places, events, and key teachings. As the years pass my memory needs refreshing so I might keep this important information vibrant in my thoughts and conversations.
- A powerful faith booster as I followed the characters through their stories to see the workings of God among His people. And the Bible holds a key theme over its sixty-six books—God did something about mankind’s sin problem through the sacrifice of His Son.
- A challenge to dig deeper, learn more, and discover details I missed on other journeys through the Bible.
How’s your quiet time with God? Has it become stale? Has it winked out altogether? Take a fresh look. Pick up that old Bible story book with its tattered pages and dive in. Grab the view from 10,000 feet, and then restart your detailed study with renewed interest.