A critical look at what many people think is in the Bible.
Hoffman (The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing from Your Bible, 2014, etc.) offers a mixed bag of thought-provoking insight and banal criticism. He begins by asserting that readers often distort the Bible in five ways: ignorance, historical accident, culture gaps, mistranslation, and misrepresentation. He also notes that all of these distortions share one of two common elements: the misapplication of tradition or missing the original context. Hoffman does well to alert readers to these ways in which the Bible is often misapplied and misunderstood. However, he tends to overextend his argument concerning concepts and statements that “aren’t in the Bible.” The author offers 40 instances in which “the Bible doesn’t say that.” Some of these cause readers to think twice about long-held assumptions. For instance, he spends one chapter examining the lengthy life spans of early Old Testament characters, exposing readers to background that is probably new territory, such as Babylonian mathematics. However, in other cases, he tackles ideas that are outdated or rarely encountered. For instance, he points out that the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden was not an apple. Though portrayed as an apple in some early Christian art, it is hard to imagine a modern Christian with even the slightest exposure to Scripture thinking that the forbidden fruit was an apple. Similarly, Hoffman beats the dead horse about “who killed Jesus,” covering well-trodden ground that a select set of Roman officials and Jewish leaders brought about the crucifixion, not “the Jews.” The author also tends to nitpick translations, almost to the point of absurdity. For example, he believes the word “king,” found throughout the Bible, should be read as “ruler,” since ancient kings were different in many ways from modern ones.
The book shows some promise, but much of it is largely unnecessary and sensationalist.