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The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,935 ratings  ·  278 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 contentio
Hardcover, 236 pages
Published October 23rd 2008 by Zondervan (first published 2008)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  2,935 ratings  ·  278 reviews

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Adam Ross
Feb 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Nick Jordan
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm a pastor on the lookout for books to recommend to parishioners on reading the Bible. This one, while far better than Reading the Bible for All It's Worth, is not the book I'm looking for. At best, Blue Parakeet might have eaten the book I'm looking for, and added to it acronyms (WDWD? = What Did Women Do?); clunky slang (the book's title; Biblical stories as "wiki-stories of the Story) that already feels dated (at only 8 years old); and a long case-study section on women in ministry which is ...more
This is a great place to start for someone who is trying to learn more about how we should read and interpret the Bible. From here I would highly recommend people read Dr. Peter Enns books on the Bible and Rachel Held Evans' book, "Inspired". ...more
Meredith McCaskey
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give it 5 stars for the subject matter and for Scot McKnight tackling the subject of how we read the Bible and being willing to state the obvious and yet mostly-ignored-in-an-evangelical-context fact- every last one of us Jesus-followers is picking and choosing what in the Bible we think applies to us today and what doesn’t. THANK YOU!

2.5 stars for somewhat clunky writing and a tendency to over-repeat what he’s already told us over and over and over. I get the feeling that I would probably enj
Parker McGoldrick
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
well now I have a lot to think about
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Bryan Cook
Jul 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 10-for-2016
A five-star rating system calls for a rubric to determine how many stars to give a book. In my personal rubric, a book has to pass a certain threshold of readability to gain more than one star.

This book failed to meet that threshold.

While reading this book, I felt like I was grading an essay that should receive an F grade. No editor worth his price should have allowed McKnight's book to be published. The writing is clunky. The metaphors are strained. The chapters meander. McKnight himself liter
Matthew Caton
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First audio book I completed in a long time! This book was SO good for my soul. In my opinion, this book (or one like it) should given to everyone who desires to encounter God through the Bible. I had to push through at some points, “okay Scott, where are you going with this...?”, but I’m glad I did as he treated very “touchy” topics with integrity, grace, truth, and comprehension! I also did pray before each listening asking that God would let His words come through and if this book were teachi ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: bible
Expecting a book about hermeneutics, I must admit that The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible was rather more theoretical than procedural. Scot McKnight makes some very important points right from the start. After setting up his “blue parakeet” metaphor (worth reading so I won’t give it away—basically, it means those uncomfortable passages that force us to rethink our lives and the interpretation of the Bible that informs those lives.

One of the most valuable portions of the book wa
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was like yoga it stretched me in places and helped me to relax in others. I’ll be coming back to it I am sure.
Aaron West
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: this-will-help
Scot McKnight has received some minor acclaim in the Christian circles I'm a part of. This book (the original and, by extension, this second edition) is known as the crown jewel of his work—most notably for his handling of A) How followers of Jesus should accurately and fairly treat scripture today and B) The place of women in church ministries in our world. I was recommended this book by a trusted friend, and I've only heard more about McKnight since then, including an impulse-buy-and-read of o ...more
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
This book is in several parts - part 1 is about what the Bible is, how we should look at it, how we read it poorly; part 2 is McKnight's suggestion on how to read the Bible better; part 3 is a case study on how to read the Bible that looks at women in ministry. McKnight's thoughts on how to read the Bible makes a lot of sense. He argues we pick and choose what to follow in the Bible (and he's not wrong), but that not only is this ok, that all people in all times have done this - even biblical au ...more
Heather Bottoms
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was not very well put together. I feel like the editor failed to corral the author’s wandering and overly repetitive thoughts. The metaphors were clunky and didn’t really hold up particularly well under scrutiny. I grew weary of the blue parakeets and all their singing and silencing.

I actually agree with most of McKnight’s assertions, so no problem there. I just didn’t feel he supported or communicated them very well.
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent book. Cannot recommend highly enough.
Josh Cheng
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked this book! I think it is a helpful discussion of how we read our bibles, pointing out some important questions and challenges that many might not think about. It touches on a lot of different issues, while not diving too deep into technical issues for the purposes of remaining accessible. Since this is meant for a wide audience, the prose is conversational and includes personal stories which are entertaining. Personally, I probably would have preferred a more technical tone with fewer st ...more
Nick Paine
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The central problem McKnight is trying to solve in this book is how to know which commands of the Bible are “for” us in today’s world. He makes the jarring, but upon further reflection, accurate claim that “everyone is picking and choosing,” even when it comes to New Testament commands. Consider, for example, Paul’s command for Christians to greet each other with a kiss? Or his command that women must wear head coverings when they pray? Or his command that men must raise their hands in the air w ...more
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Scot presents a way to be a person who reads and understands the Bible, especially understanding the parts that seem to be random in their laws or guidance. He brings a clear argument for women in leadership that doesn't discount or dismiss Paul's letter's to the church but gives them context and reasoning for their placement and what to do with that information. ...more
Barry Saylor
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As usual, McKnight presents a convincing case through sound biblical scholarship. Even if you don’t agree with McKnight’s conclusions throughout the book, he will challenge you to think critically about how you interact with Scripture. Especially helpful are his case studies on women in ministry and the New Testament perspective on slavery.
Dylan Bryce
As alluded to in my review for The Letter of Pergamum, this book was recommended by The Bible Project. Out of the two, this one was less impressive. However, there were some good principles that McKnight expounds upon that are key in dealing with what McKnight calls the "blue parakeets" of scripture. Blue parakeets are those passages in scripture that we tend to ignore or never talk about because they are either confusing, uncomfortable, or don't match up with our view of God.

*Spoilers* Here are
Gideon Yutzy
Feb 21, 2021 rated it liked it
McKnight's main point seems to be that we all pick and choose when it comes to applying, or as he prefers to say, living out the Bible. This didn't seem very revelatory to me, hence the low rating. Also, his writing style suffers a little...too breezy and desultory for my taste. Overall, it's good though and not as inflammatory and huffy as some of those from the rash of anti-Fundamentalism books written by ex-vangelicals in the last decade or so.

If you want the summary without reading the book,
Varina Denman
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book really made me consider how I read the Bible. I'll be thinking thinking about this for a while! ...more
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Insightful and helpful. Book got better as it went on (and more scholarly). Loved the discussion of women in ministry.
Shelbi Starr
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal book! Great content throughout and awesome content on women in ministry! Such a good read!
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblical-studies
Everyone likes the blessing/promise passages (random verses of God’s faithfulness, grace, patience, love, listening to our prayers, eternal plans for us), no one has yet composed a wrath of God calendar with warnings!
Our relationship to the Bible is actually a relationship with the God of the Bible. We don’t ask what the bIble says, but what God says to us in the Bible.
Our relationship to the God of the Bible is to listen to God so that we can love Him more deeply and love others more complete
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an accessible, readable examination of how we read the Bible and what that means for the church. In typical McKnight fashion there are plenty of personal anecdotes, a few phrases that he uses (and overuses) to anchor his argument concluding with an appeal for more conversation.
Cameron Roxburgh
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Scot was always one of my favourite professors, he has fast become one of my favourite authors also.

I think I have now read 5 or 6 of his books, and this one, although not his most recent, was perhaps the best written one. All of Scot's books make you think, and frankly I consider him pushing us in the right direction most of the time, but in the Blue Parakeet he writes on the issue of reading the bible, the purpose of the bible, interpreting the bible, in such a way as to be profound and yet a
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
“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
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Worth the slog, though the author was a bit redundant. His academic work with learners is important, challenging assumptions, getting newbies to think, his repetitions are a teacher tool, I suppose. His best contribution is summarized pp.66-79 on the importance of the big picture themes. However, as a woman of the Word, (a former feminist) who has served in the (imperfect) church. I found his new found liberation embarrassing. Like Yancy, or Enns, this writer is still trying to shake off the con ...more
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 know
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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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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
19 likes · 10 comments
“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.” 15 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.” 2 likes
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