If the Bible isn't a science book or an instruction manual, then what is it? What do people mean when they say the Bible is inspired? When Rachel Held Evans found herself asking these questions, she began a quest to better understand what the Bible is and how it is meant to be read. What she discovered changed her and it will change you too.
Drawing on the best in recent scholarship and using her well-honed literary expertise, Evans examines some of our favorite Bible stories and possible interpretations, retelling them through memoir, original poetry, short stories, soliloquies, and even a short screenplay. She explores contradictions and questions from her own experiences with the Bible, such as:
If God is the hero of the story, why did he behave like a villain?If the Bible was supposed to explain the mysteries of life, why does it leave the reader with so many questions?If the Bible has given voice to the oppressed, why is it also used as justification by their oppressors?
Undaunted by the Bible's most difficult passages, Evans wrestles through the process of doubting, imagining, and debating Scripture's mysteries. The Bible, she discovers, is not a static work but a living, breathing, captivating, and confounding book that is able to equip us to join God's loving and redemptive work in the world.
Evans (A Year of Biblical Womanhood) introduces readers to Biblical criticism in her gratifying work on approaching the Bible. Shaped by her staunch religious upbringing and eventual doubts about her faith, Evans finds a graceful balance between challenging fundamentalist readings of the Bible and opposing outright dismissal of biblical tales. She devotes chapters to important genres, including origin stories, deliverance tales, accounts of war, and narratives of prophetic resistance. Before each chapter, Evans creatively retells a biblical story in a way that models her call for readers to think freshly about the Bible. With a serious yet conversational tone, she explores the original context of Bible stories to enrich their power. For instance, she writes, the Babylonian exile and threatening loss of identity explain Israel's creation stories, and the Roman empire's domineering edicts make Paul's letters a smart response to political pressures of the time. Her chapter on miracle stories which argues that one should focus on how these stories can bring personal change, rather than on proving or disproving them is particularly touching. This appealing and open book will provide readers of all theological persuasions a clear picture of how the tools of scholarship can be deployed to bolster the Bible's impact and beauty.