David Sarkies's Reviews > Bible Stories

Bible Stories by Michael Coleman
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's review
May 19, 12

bookshelves: childrens
Read in January, 2010

I am not sure to whom this book is targeted, though I suspect that the general audience would be children. The reason I say that is because the stories that are included in the book are written in such a way as to appeal to younger readers. If you look at the back of this book you will notice that similar books have been written for Shakespearian plays and Greek Legends, among other books. I do not believe that this was intended to be a dig at or mocking of, the Biblical narrative, but rather a way to open the stories to younger readers so that they might delve into them themselves.
The way the book is set out is that there will be one chapter where the story is written in a unique and entertaining way, such as the first story where we have a diary of Adam, which effectively tells of creation and his days in the garden. The next section looks at the concept of sin, but not in a deep and theological way, but rather in a way that can be accessible to children. In a way, many people these days do not understand what sin actually is, but they do know what being naughty is, and this is one of the best ways to help people understand sin.
However, this is not what sin is, sin is a lot more than just being naughty, and Christianity is a lot more than being good. In fact, one of the basic doctrines of Christianity is that we cannot be good, but rather, we are ruled by our own desires and passions. It is not about trying to be good, but rather acknowledging our rebellion against God, and in turn accepting the forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers us. However, this book offers a starting point (though some would suggest that the starting point in this book is not all that good).
One thing I have noticed is that this book selects stories that are probably better known to us, rather that stories that outline the biblical narrative. In turn, it looks at aspects of these stories that might be of interested. With Noah we look at animals, with Joseph we look at the nature of families, and with Moses we look at the law. What this book does seem to skip out of is the promises that are given to Abraham, and many churches hold these three promises to be one of the crucial points in old testament history, as it lays the foundations of God's character. We don't see the fulfillment of the people promise, and we do not see the exposition of the land promise as outlined in the book of Joshua.
A part of me does want to rubbish this teaching that comes from the churches that turns the biblical narrative on the promises to Abraham, but in my heart I know that I cannot. I guess it has more to do with my lack of respect for the people teaching that doctrine as opposed to the doctrine itself. Don't get me wrong, I love reading and learning from the bible, however many churches just do not want you to break out from the mould that they are trying to force you into. I remember that in one year we looked at the structure of the old testament and the flow of the story three times. It always was Abraham and the promises, and the promises of Land, People, and Blessings. Look, that is true, and it is the case, and while I do agree that we do need to consider the context, I just feel sometimes that we are not actually allowed to let God speak to us through his word, and challenge us, but rather railroad God down as specific path, and restrict his messages to us, unless of course we can see that it comes out of the context.
True, a text without a context is nothing more than a pretext, however consider that when we are the ones that dictate the context, then in doing so we are creating our own pretext. We shift the story back beyond the coming a Christ, and as such we fail to see the message that is being directed to us. We spend so much time trying to slot the story into a specific time, and then spend even more time trying to manipulate the story to fit our doctrine, that we end up forgetting that God loves us for who we are, and that he has crafted and created all of us as individuals.

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