Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE EARTHEN VESSEL by Nancy  Wilferd


by Nancy Wilferd

Pub Date: June 30th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4984-0401-3
Publisher: Xulon Press

A retired nurse provides an explanatory tour of the human body and discusses its intricacy as evidence of God’s design.

The world of scientific explanations and the spiritually miraculous are rarely presented as compatible, but debut author Wilferd does exactly that. She announces her dual aims: to furnish an “easy-to-read and easy-to-understand” account of the body’s various parts and functions, and to show that “humans are the most complex and beautiful of all creation.” She impressively achieves her first goal, surveying the body’s biological structure with encyclopedic thoroughness. The author examines its cellular structure and DNA, the composition and work of blood and the circulatory system, the “musculoskeletal system,” and the body’s sundry parts and roles in keeping people alive. She also supplies a remarkably lucid account of the ways in which the body defends itself from sickness and disease, breathes, digests, and reproduces. Wilferd repeatedly observes that the body is amazingly efficient and gifted with an elaborate architecture, both “evidence of the miraculous Hand of God at work.” For example, a discussion of the nature of blood is followed by one about the “precious blood of Jesus,” and a wonderfully concise account of the lysosome comes immediately before a report about the genetic link between Mary and Jesus. The author permits herself some edifying digressions, too, about the health risks of smoking and circumcision and the danger of shaken baby syndrome. Wilferd’s presentation of the body is not just lucid, but also artfully synoptic—she reduces complex biological issues to their most basic parts without oversimplification or condescension. Her book could serve as a useful short reference guide or an introduction for newcomers to the subject. In addition, even if readers disagree with the author’s theological inferences, she still persuasively demonstrates the marvel that is the human body. But she can become dogmatically strident when it comes to the issue of conception: “No one who understands DNA can deny that life begins at conception.” Of course, lots of geneticists, right or wrong, do precisely that. 

An astonishingly accessible biology introduction that should especially appeal to devout Christians.