Understanding and Using the Bible – Book Review

Understanding and Using the Bible
Editors:  Christopher J.H. Wright and Jonathan Lamb
Publisher:  SPCK
ISBN 13:  9780281061891

Book Review by Tim Davy, Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission, Redcliffe College

SPCK’s International Study Guides are aimed primarily at Christians who are engaged in training for ministry, and for whom English is not their first language. Understanding and Using the Bible is a new volume within this series that gives an introduction to the nature of Scripture, and how we might engage with it in a variety of contexts.

The book is in two parts. Part one ‘Understanding the Bible’ focuses on the nature the Bible with three chapters by Wright on understanding the Bible ‘as the word of God’, ‘as the words of human authors’, and ‘as a whole’. Part two deals with a range of themes centred around the use of the Bible. Issues include using the Bible in one’s devotional life (Jonathan Lamb); in evangelism (Ajith Fernando); in groups (Catharine Padilla); in the context of Islam (Ida Glaser); in oral cultures (Steve Evans); with women (Emily Onyango); in the family (Anthony and King Lang Loke); and in preaching (Jonathan Lamb).

Although edited by two Brits (Chris Wright and Jonathan Lamb) five out of the nine contributors are non-Westerners.

Understanding and Using the Bible is a very good introductory book for those wanting to receive a grounding in the nature of the Bible and how it might be used in a variety of settings. The first section gives a very solid foundation that is then built on to deal with a stimulating range of topics. It is written in an accessible way which fulfils its aim to be readable for those whose first language isn’t English. The content itself is very helpful, combining a fascinating breadth but also significant content. In addition it is very practical, both in the chapters themselves and also in the study suggestions that are also included.

Although it could certainly be read profitably by people on their own I am sure that this book will bear most fruit when read in community.

Finally, I hope that being aimed at those whose first language isn’t English does not put off those for whom English is their primary language. There is much to appreciate in this book that will benefit all who read it.

Buy Understanding and Using the Bible from St Andrew’s Bookshop.

Back to Issue 33

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