New Bible Guide Challenges Readers - New and Old

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DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE BIBLE: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GOOD BOOK BUT NEVER LEARNED

By Kenneth Davis

William Morrow 533 pp., $25 Do you still postpone reading the Bible cover to cover? "Don't Know Much About the Bible" offers a rousing companion volume to get you going. Kenneth Davis will take you on a grand tour - with commentary. As author of the bestselling "Don't Know Much About" series of history guides, Davis delivers a fast-paced read. To lure us into this tome, he promises to introduce us to the R-rated and otherwise frank material that was (presumably) not covered in Sunday school, besides taking a fresh look at familiar stories. Short, selected readings from each book are followed by answers to questions like, Was there a "coat of many colors"? Who really killed Goliath? Are the four Gospels "gospel truth"? Davis quotes rabbis, popes, pastors, and presidents. Creationists and evolutionists, ancients and moderns speak, too. The well- stocked bibliography ranges from Thomas Jefferson's pruned-down Bible to William J. Bennett's "Book of Virtues," from the most standard reference works to the tumult of contemporary Jesus scholarship. Davis's humor and sometimes in-your-face tone keep the reader always just a little off-balance. The technique may irritate some, but lightens heavy material, such as the prolonged violence attending the occupation of the Promised Land. Even with the humor, it was pure relief to come at last to the prophets, gamely exposing the distance Israel and Judah had fallen. I got their message as never before. There's much for any reader to learn. The author compares various versions of the Bible and clarifies translation problems. His timelines place biblical events in helpful contexts. The panoramic approach allows both author and reader to find connections between books, between epochs, and between characters. …

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