Monday, December 19, 2011

A Review of The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook edited by J. Daniel Hays & J. Scott Duvall

The original recipients of each of the texts in the Bible had an important advantage that we in the twenty-first century don't have: they lived within the context these texts were written. This included social customs, the presuppositions of the audience, and the historical background of the audience among other contextual realities. Since we don't share their context and probably many of their presuppositions, it might be difficult sometimes to understand exactly what the biblical author was trying to convey through the text. However, because the Bible is meant to be God's way of communicating to us as it was to the original audience, it's important for us to learn what God was saying to them in order to understand what God is saying to us. Serious Bible study requires getting into the minds and contexts of the original biblical audience. 

The BAKER ILLUSTRATED BIBLE HANDBOOK is an incredible resource for understanding the world in which the biblical texts were written. The book is divided into three parts:

Part 1-God's Story. This section covers the Bible's grand narrative and an overview of each of the books of the Bible. The book overviews cover the book's setting, outline, main features, articles on important issues, it's place in the overarching biblical story, and applicational points. For example, the idea of covenants is very important in the book of Genesis, and there's an article discussing covenants. This section of the book also covers overviews of the main sections of the Bible, as well as a historical overview of the inter-testamental period. 

Part 2-How the Bible Came to Be. This section covers topics such as the inspiration of the Bible, selection of the canon, preservation of the Bible, translations, etc.

Part 3-Digging Deeper into the Bible. This section is immensely valuable because it guides the reader on how to actually study the Bible with the goal of applying it to everyday life. This section includes a special look at the literary genres used in the Bible. There's also a look at archaeology and the Bible, and a look at the suggestion by some of Bible codes contained in the Bible.

Throughout the book, there are visually captivating photos, charts, and maps that help the handbook come alive.

The BAKER ILLUSTRATED BIBLE HANDBOOK is a vastly helpful resource to any student of the Bible. It's been a welcome addition to my growing collection of Bible study resources. Pastors, Bible study teachers, theologians, and anyone who just wants to learn more from the Bible will benefit from this book. It's without question the best Bible handbook I've come across.

I received this book for free for review from Baker Books

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