Friday, January 20, 2006

Book Review: Unlocking the Bible Omnibus

You might think that a massive tome of 1,343 pages would be a heavy, dry read. But David Pawson's Unlocking the Bible Omnibus is anything but that! Pawson's aim is to inspire his readers to come to understand the Bible as a whole rather than to use proof-texts here and there and potentially misunderstand what the Bible is really saying. The Omnibus is actually a collection of all of Pawson's books in the Unlocking the Bible series all in one book. It begins with a story of how the author came to write this material. It has travelled from verbal sermons and presentations to army personnel all the way to the current written form. And one of the distinguishing marks of the writing is its conversational style. When I first saw the book in the store, I sat down on a lounge to have a browse and found myself reading more and more to the point I just had to buy it! It's conversational approach makes it very easy to understand. Even though it is informal in tone, it is obvious that Pawson's survey of Scripture is informed by a massive amount of scholarly reading including a diverse array of Bible commentaries. It is the culmination of the author's preaching, teaching, and study of the Bible since 1957! So Unlocking the Bible has substance as well. Pawson takes a fairminded approach to presenting the meaning of Scripture. He is honest about different points of views and is clear when he favours one above another. It is obvious that the author wants his readers to think about Scripture. There is a fascinating explanation in his introduction on why there is a paucity of text references in his book. He explains that
... their absence is intentional. God gave us his Word in books, but not in chapters and verses. That was the work of two bishops, French and Irish, centuries later. It became easier to find a 'text' and to ignore context. How many Christians who quote John 3:16 can recite verses 15 and 17? Many no longer 'search the scriptures'; they simply look them up (given the numbers). So I have followed the apostles' habit of naming the authors only -- 'as Isaiah or David or Samuel said'. For example, the Bible says that God whistles. Where on earth does it say that? In the book of Isaiah. Whereabouts? Go and find out for yourself. Then you'll also find out when he did and why he did. And you'll have the satisfaction of having discovered all that by yourself.
What a great approach. There is a wealth of fantastic background information, outlines, paraphrases, theological discussions, points of view, explanations and more. You will find things you disagree with -- that is the nature of a book that makes you think. But you will find so much that is rewarding as you dip into the book or read it from cover to cover. It truly does go a long way to Unlocking the Bible. Related Links

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