Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pocket Guide to the Bible

Just finished Jason Boyett's latest in his Pocket Guide series, Pocket Guide to the Bible. This is another one of those books for which, I will write a favorable review and then receive unfavorable calls and emails because I gave it a favorable review.

Here is why I like it: For people who have never read the Bible and for people who have tried but never gotten very far, this is the most accessible overview ever written. It is also really, really, funny. (Really, its funny. Even if you are never going to read the Bible, you should read this. It is that funny.)

Let's face it, the Bible is really hard to read but Boyett gives the quickest, easiest, primer you will ever find. You get "biblicabulary" (glossary) of all the odd terms scripture assumes you know and a cast of characters so you won't confuse Elijah with Elisha. Then the author takes you on a tour of the narrative of the entire Bible in 30 pages. And not encyclopedia pages, pocket book pages. Okay, so he has to skip over a lot but you get a good picture of the overall story.

This is great for people who think the Bible is inaccessible because it helps them get started. It is also helpful for people who think that the Bible is just a useless collection of thees and thous and shalts and shalt nots. (Boyett even explains why all the translations read a little different why some say thee and others don't.)

So with that favorable stuff said, here is why people will get upset at me for liking it. First of all, you can't describe the entire Bible in 190 pages without taking some, well, liberties. You have to pick and choose what you are going to talk about and if your bent is comedy, then there are going to be some irreverent moments. Second, the Bible has some really odd stuff in it. When you shine a light upon it, it is pretty easy to make fun of. Some folks don't think that it is okay to make fun of the Bible. The author doesn't really have a problem with making fun of the Bible. Third, there is a little bit of language in the book that might offend some. It is totally PG but I know someone will bring it up.

Here is my recommendation. You should not read this book if you are: easily offended, think Bible jokes aren't funny, don't want to know "The Four Best Moments for Donkeys" in the Bible, or have ever considered sending me a letter of complaint. You might consider reading this book if are: having trouble getting started reading the Bible, convinced that the Bible is boring, not offended by The Simpsons (actually, if you have never been offended by the Simpsons you likely haven't watched every episode), or are just looking for something funny that might trick you into learning something.



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