A simplified, book-by-book guided tour of the Bible.
Downey’s concise, upbeat nonfiction debut takes aim at the intimidation factor of reading the Bible, presenting a detailed breakdown of the Old and New Testaments. Each chapter gives a narrative summary followed by several discussion questions that seem designed to get readers thinking about how the Bible reading relates to their own personal experiences with faith. The author opts to use the present tense in her summaries, which makes the stories more active and easier to follow, as when she writes, “Second Chronicles ends with Cyrus, the Persian king, conquering Babylonia about fifty years after the fall of Jerusalem. Cyrus announces he is letting the Jewish people go and return to Jerusalem after a total of seventy years in exile.” The book contains clear, simple maps of key locations, and Downey supplements her accounts with nonbiblical material from ancient-world historians Flavius Josephus and Eusebius of Caesarea. It all makes for a very smooth, inviting outline of the Bible, but non-Christian or nonreligious readers should be aware of the book’s evangelical perspective, as it presents the Bible as a unified narrative that always trends toward the wisdom and mercy of the Christian God—even the parts that the author acknowledges were written long before Christianity existed. This view consistently colors the biblical explanations; for instance, in the chapter on Exodus, the book tells readers that “Moses is very old at this time and will die before entering Canaan” without mentioning that God forbids Moses from reaching the region. This viewpoint makes the book serviceable for Christian study groups, but it bars it from any kind of critical use.
An accessibly written evangelical handbook to the books of Scripture.