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The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,266 ratings  ·  136 reviews
'Why Can't I Just Be a Christian?'
Parakeets make delightful pets. We cage them or clip their wings to keep them where we want them. Scot McKnight contends that many, conservatives and liberals alike, attempt the same thing with the Bible. We all try to tame it.
McKnight's The Blue Parakeet has emerged at the perfect time to cool the flames of a world on fire with contention
Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2009)
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Scot McKnight is my homeboy. I am really thankful that the emerging/missional/whatever-name-we'll-have-next-week movement has him as a friendly yet challenging theological voice. True to form, this book is full of both encouragements for the church to move forward, as well as cautions to the places where we might go off the rails. It’s provocative and very helpful, and I recommend it.

Here is a quick summary of the book:

“Blue parakeets” are oddities we come across in the Scriptures that we don’t
Excellent, excellent book. Cannot recommend highly enough.
It took me a while to finish this book because it is pretty densely written, reflecting McKnight's academic background. But it was definitely worth the effort to read all the way through. McKnight explains a way to read the Bible faithfully, but intelligently. He rejects both inflexible fundamentalist literalism and dismissive liberal antinomianism and relativism with equal fervor. In teaching the reader how to approach the Bible as a grand story, he helps us avoid several common traps he explai ...more
“How, then, are we to live the Bible today?” With this question McKnight asks his readers to re-think how they understand and apply the Bible. In the ever-turning waters of theology, philosophy, and popular trends, the Bible as story (a single unified narrative expressed through the “wiki-stories” of each individual author) has often been forgotten or ignored. While McKnight intentionally does not provide a systematic hermeneutic, he does offer three steps towards living the Bible today: identif ...more
Recommended by my similarly-named friend Mark Jackson, I gave this book a bonus star for how it reinforced my own thinking, without actually giving me argument-winning reasons for doing so. I teetered back & forth between thinking this material was obvious, and being bothered that his theological/linguistic/anthropological reasoning for it wasn't airtight.

Maybe it's not a bonus star, but one the author actually earned, since it definitely made me think about my own beliefs. I didn't really k
This is an excellent book because it pushes readers of the bible to examine why we read the good book in the way that we do. Specifically, why do we treat different passages of the bible in different way, or more pragmatically, why do we obey different parts of the bible in different ways? Scot McKnight, acknowledges that this reality is actually a good thing but then commends a reading strategy that can help us deal with the passages that are often ignored and especially with the ones that are ...more
Ali M.
McKnight has some great points and a clear grasp of the Bible as Story, which I definitely think is the most central and valuable way to approach it. I applaud him for this: more people need to be consciously thinking about the role the Bible plays (or should play) in our faith – a role that is often misconstrued.

However, he does not express himself in a very economic manner. I try not to get hung up on writing unless the style handicaps clarity, but I thought that was the case a few too many t
Adam Shields
I am about half way though this book. I have been reading in little chunks because I need to think about it as I am going. Scot is putting into word many things that I have thought about scripture and reading scripture. He is just explaining it much better and more thoroughly than I could.


After having read it I think that this is a book that almost all Christians should read this book. No matter what you think of his examples of how he works out reading scripture, the idea that you should th
Steve Watson
Since we all pick and choose when we read the Bible, why don't we do so more honestly, more thoughtfully, and more helpfully?

When we read the Bible as a puzzle to solve or a law-book to apply or an ancient text to retrieve principles for living from, we tend to have difficulty with sections that we can't explain, apply, rationalize, or fit into our systems. These become the "blue parakeet" passages then, the unusual birds that we want to ignore, assimilate, or chase away, rather than letting th
Greg McKinzie
McKnight writes to conservative Christians in order to convince them to admit that they have unconscious ways of interpreting the Bible rather than "just doing what it says" and to begin thinking about how they should consciously interpret it. The book is written in an extremely popular style, which is good, but it leads to the predictable problem of some points being underdeveloped. A part of my four-star rating is that I think McKnight could have been a little less basic at times. The other re ...more
"The Blue Parakeet" is a mixture of truth, excellent commentary, and unjustified conjecture. The book must be read with even more discernment than the author suggests for the entire Bible. My overall conclusion is that the book contains more truth than error and is an excellent addition to the Christian literature for the purpose of stimulating biblically founded discussion of some currently sensitive areas, but it will certainly be used by many to compromise biblical truth with godless cultural ...more
I read this for a uni assignment, but it's not a textbook. Every Christian who is serious about reading the Bible faithfully should read a few books like this one. It's quite pointed in parts, even slightly controversial. McKnight isn't afraid to tackle the big issues like mis-interpretation, and some of the more difficult passages in the Bible. A challenging book - I don't think you can read it without re-thinking the way you read the Bible.
Dec 26, 2008 Pat rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for more authenticity in the Church.
Excellent, excellent book. The author articulates what I have longed believed -- Christians need to be more honest about their beliefs and admit those things that are traditions versus those things that are biblical. Or as the author says, we "adopt and adapt" (a nice way of saying we pick and choose what part of Scripture we will obey).
A tremendously well-written book on Biblical interpretation - probably the best I've read. Even better - it's accessible to non-theologians.

Note: McKnight's honesty & willingness to follow the truth where it leads will make liberals & conservatives uncomfortable - that's a good thing!
I do like how McKnight tries to find a middle-path between conservative and liberal positions on the bible, but I hate his writing. Because its so "conversational" it looses both exactness and art.
(I actually don't know when I read this book: earlier this year, now this review suffers for my procrastination).
I really enjoyed it.
An honest reflection from someone who loves and studies the Bible, (and, actually, more important, loves God).
The Blue Parakeet is a thoughtful analogy to how we should approach the Bible. Basically: things that pop us out of our status-quo experience or that need us to stop and reflect on. There are passages in the bible like this, and they require us to unders
Jim Dressner
Reading the bible as a story--that is, as one big narrative--doesn't seem like a revolutionary approach, but the contrasts he makes to other approaches reveals that it isn't the most widely-used. He manages to lay out a course for understanding scripture that avoids many traps and brings light to some difficult passages.

Other reviewers have laid out the main points quite well, so no need for me to rehash.

This book is written clearly and smoothly with easy-to-follow arguments; don't be put off b
annoying blue parakeet metaphor, some lousy examples to support some of his points, but...a fascinating and convicting main premise
Carl Jenkins
I was really having a hard time deciding if I wanted to give this book 3 or 4 stars and I finally had to give it three.

McKnight's book is primarily about HOW we read the Bible, and I think this is a topic that really needs to be examined.McKnight had a lot of absolutely fantastic points. The name of the book comes from an illustration he uses that leads to passages within the Bible that seem conflicting or troublesome in comparison to their surrounding text and story as "Blue Parakeets." There
Brian Cooper
It seems like he attempts to present (what I consider) a traditional and Biblical principle in the packaging of something "new". Discernment isn't a new concept avoided in the American Church (whatever that is), but is alive and well - maybe not ideally for all of us, but we are all works in progress. One thing I struggled to delineate from his point: where DO principles need to be applied. I don't think he meant it as an open-ended all changes can be made based on our culture... but he borders ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Kaysi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians, evangelicals
"Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
-John F. Kennedy

In 2012 I was introduced to the idea of viewing the Bible as the story of God's relationship with humanity in terms of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. It radically altered the way I read the Bible, but I've wrestled ever since with the fear that, having grown up in American evangeli
This book surprised me in the best way possible.
Instead of taking the easy way and affirming the traditional way of reading the Bible, the book really took a more liberal and refreshing view. What surprised me is that my college professor chose the book as a reference to teach from, but I think it shows how progressive some Christian schools are becoming and I only hope that it continues.

The whole book basically challenges the reader to stop reading the Bible like it's God because as the book
Adam Ross
It would have gotten two stars, except for the last five chapters, which were a defense of women's ordination.

Generally the book was okay (hence two stars). It has all of the same flaws that I find in other run-of-the-mill evangelical books; poor-to-terrible analogies and metaphors, pedestrian prose, shallow thought, etc. It did have some good things to say, mostly in part two (chapters 6-8). Chapter 8 was especially good, in which he points out that St. Augustine said that any interpretation w
Jan 29, 2010 Suzie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who reads the Bible
I really enjoyed this book. It affirmed how I view the Bible in terms of a story with a begining, a middle and end that includes all kinds of characters, plots and themes. He emphasizes the necessity of reading the Bible in context as we seek to apply it to our lives today, yet he does not take away from its inerrancy or place of priority in our lives. Dr. McKnight urges us to seek God first and know Him (through His word) which will thus give us insight into the story. Many people take the Bibl ...more
I'm not sure what to rate this book (2.5 stars?). It's an interesting read but far too short. I wanted something more in depth. The case study of women in ministry was supposed to illustrate how to read the Bible according to McKnight's suggestions but didn't illustrate the principles thoroughly enough. I'm not certain that I could take these ideas of Bible reading and apply them correctly.

There are a couple items that definitely made me think but that didn't get addressed fully.

1 - "The quick
James Korsmo
McKnight, well known blogger and author, challenges readers to think about how they read the Bible in this great little book. The challenge McKnight lays down to readers is to think about what it means to be "biblical" in our thinking, speaking, and acting. Though we may think we mean simply "doing what the Bible says," he shows us that for almost all of us, that is clearly not the case. Through some simple examples he shows that we all pick and choose what we apply and how. The question explore ...more
Barb Terpstra
I've been recommending this book to many of my friends--I found it to be thought provoking and think it would make worthwhile discussions with both Christians and non-Christians.

This is how the author starts:

"One: We believe everything the Bible says, therefore. . .
Two: We practice whatever the Bible says.
Three: Hogwash!"

The author posits that no-one can believe the Bible literally - it's just not possible. We all take verses or passages and put our own spin on them. He reminds us that the Bib
Apr 02, 2009 Bobby rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who own/read a Bible
Shelves: favorites
Excellent book! If you have to read or study the Bible, if you own one, I highly recommend it. A Blue Parakeet is "those passages that are oddities in the Bible that we prefer to cage and silence rather than permit into our sacred mental gardens" (pg 208). McKnight's book is basically an introduction on how to read the Bible as story and why one should. He speaks of how people need to read the Bible with tradition rather than through tradition or even in just a read-to-retrieve mentality.

The su
This is a short and excellent book about how to read the Bible. The Bible is enormously complicated, horrifically abused, and--sadly--ignored by many people who have been hurt or marginalized by those who believe the Bible condones their own prejudices and hatreds. The author--an evangelical Christian professor--has clearly given Biblical interpretation a great deal of thought, and arrived at some remarkable, interesting, and insightful conclusions.

For Professor McKnight, the whole goal of read

Book title: The Blue Parakeet
Author: Scot McKnight
Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2008
Number of pages: 214

How do we determine what we're supposed to do and not supposed to do in the Bible. Circumcise, foot washing, keep the Sabbath (which day?); these were all commanded in the Bible. So why don't we do them. What about all the issues in the Bible that we take further than the bible commands? Some was for then but not now. So then, how do we determine what's for now and what was for then? What about
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Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author or editor of forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. Dr. McKnight has given interviews on radios across the nation, has appeared on television, and is regularly speaks at local churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries in the ...more
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“God did not give the Bible so we could master him or it; God gave the Bible so we could live it, so we could be mastered by it. The moment we think we’ve mastered it, we have failed to be readers of the Bible.” 7 likes
“God was on the move; God is on the move; and God will always be on the move. Those who walk with God and listen to God are also on the move. Reading the Bible so we can live it out today means being on the move—always. Anyone who stops and wants to turn a particular moment into a monument, as the disciples did when Jesus was transfigured before them, will soon be wondering where God has gone.” 1 likes
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