Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How the Bible Actually Works: In Which I Explain How An Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather Than Answers—and Why That’s Great News” as Want to Read:
How the Bible Actually Works: In Which I Explain How An Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather Than Answers—and Why That’s Great News
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How the Bible Actually Works: In Which I Explain How An Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather Than Answers—and Why That’s Great News

by
4.52  ·  Rating details ·  557 ratings  ·  320 reviews
Controversial evangelical Bible scholar, popular blogger and podcast host of The Bible for Normal People, and author of The Bible Tells Me So and The Sin of Certainty explains that the Bible is not an instruction manual or rule book but a powerful learning tool that nurtures our spiritual growth by refusing to provide us with easy answers but instead forces us to acquire w ...more
Audiobook
Published February 19th 2019 by HarperAudio
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How the Bible Actually Works, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How the Bible Actually Works

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  557 ratings  ·  320 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Randal Martin
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#harperonepartner
#wisebible
#howthebibleactuallyworks

***For the purpose of full disclosure I received an advance free copy of this book from HarperOne as part of the launch team.***

I have to admit I fully expected it to be "The Bible Tells Me So" Part 2. I was wrong. I am only a couple of chapters in, but How the Bible Actually Works is more about how to find the wisdom in this "ancient, ambiguous, and diverse" book that many of us grew up thinking we knew.

I look forward to digging further into
...more
Brock Beesley
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the last couple of years, there has been a profound shift that has occurred with how we understand the Bible, it's applicability for our day and age, and the lasting value that it continues to have. Books like Rob Bell's "What is the Bible?" and Rachel Held Evans "Inspired" have sparked a renewed interested among not just those who have possibly walked away from the Bible or those who struggle with the balance of ancient documents in a modern-day world, but also among those who are not fami ...more
Jordan
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m not an expert theologian, a professional writer, or someone who has a significant impact on determining the course of others’ faith (as in being ordained or a teacher), so it was a privilege to be included in the launch team, for which I received a complimentary advanced copy of “How the Bible Actually Works.”

There are so many detailed reviews with excerpts and analysis, I won’t compete.

I’m a regular, ordinary Christian (Catholic, to be exact), and that’s ok—this book is for people like me.
...more
Becki
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
Disclosure- I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which I always enjoy giving and frankly would have shared for free. ;) #HarperOnePartner

I came to this book already a fan of author Peter Enns. I had already read his book "The Bible Tells Me So" and I subscribe to (and love) his podcast (The Bible for Normal People, with Jared Byas.) My prior experience with this author led me to expect very scholarly Biblical study, shared with dry, sarcastic wit, and that'
...more
Heather
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author’s approach of using examples from the Old Testament to demonstrate how Judaism evolved over time makes a lot of sense. Well done!
Faithe
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How we approach the Bible is perhaps the most critical issue facing Christianity today. After decades of falling in line behind the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, people are leaving the church in droves because the tension between the world in which we live, and this hard-line approach to the Bible, is too great. Churchgoers are finding that...

1. The usual explanations for Biblical contradictions are intellectually inadequate when you dig beyond the surface and challenge the pat answer
...more
Leah Randall
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been raised Methodist in the Bible Belt, I carried always an awareness that I read the Bible differently from many of my neighbors of the sola scriptura tradition whose various Statements of Faith insist upon the Book’s “inerrancy” and “infallibility. I have also watched some Evangelical fundamentalists raised in that tradition—awakened by cognitive dissonance as they confront social issues in a postmodern world, or when they encounter ambiguity and contradictions in the Bible—abandon it ...more
Boyd Barrett
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I am part of the launch team for “How the Bible Actually Works” by Pete Enns, so I received an advance reader copy from HarperOne. I have engaged with Pete’s work for the past few years and am a regular listener to his podcast.

This book definitely achieves its goal of taking the listener through a fast-paced and humor-laced overview of how the Bible reveals itself to be an ongoing conversation about God, a conversation that is contained within and constrained by the varying culture
...more
Jon Gill
Why We Need This Now
I attend what most would call an “evangelical” church. While there are lots of ways to define that, for the purpose of this book’s topic, my church’s statement of belief on the Bible (a relatively standard evangelical one) goes like this:

“The Bible, containing 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is the infallible Word of God, written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit and having supreme and final authority on all matters to which it speaks. It is without error in the or
...more
MindyK
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first time I bought Pete's book "The Sin of Certainty," I was so frightened by it, I threw it away! Not kidding. I had to go buy it again after my heart stopped skipping beats, so ka-ching, Pete, you sold that one twice! I have now read all of Pete's books, and this is another gem. Pete's very funny and easily accessible commentary on how the Bible leads us to wisdom and not a list of facts we must believe is a refreshing view of Scripture. My main takeaways from this journey: 1) we are to l ...more
Lynley
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#harperonepartner
#wisebible
#howthebibleactuallyworks

Full disclosure I read an advance excerpt of the book. It’s an eye opener and resonated with some things I could never express properly but his put words to it.
I almost want to say that Pete does it again, but if you never read a book of his before, this is a brilliant one to start.
Zac Cannon
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enns, Peter. How the Bible Actually Works. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2019.

I was introduced to Peter Enns several years ago through his contributions with BioLogos. Around that time, I was looking for better answers to the questions I wrestled with pertaining to the Bible and Christian faith; specifically, how the two could engage the dynamic and changing world we live in. Personally, I could no longer hold onto many of the old answers that had once been so bedrock to my understand
...more
G.F. Erichsen
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the cover of his newest book, Peter Enns — a former evangelical religion professor who has been accused of heresy by his traditionalist critics — promises a “revolutionary way of understanding the mission of the Bible.”

He delivers. Although his concepts aren’t entirely new — he introduced some of them in his 2014 The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It— Enns makes a strong case for seeing the Bible as a volume that was never meant to give us clear answers
...more
Debbie
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Final Review

Note: I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher, HarperOne.

I highly recommend Peter Enns’ newest book How the Bible Actually Works*.
It is a well thought out, biblically sound observation (think 20,000 foot view) that helps us consider our relationship with the Bible – what we can actually learn from it and what we, maybe, actually shouldn’t.
While my tendency is to agree with Enns on many things, I tried to look at the book, additionally, with the Bible skeptic
...more
Justin Boulmay
This review, like the Bible itself, will not spell out everything you need to know about Peter Enns’ new book.

How the Bible Actually Works argues that Scripture is ancient, ambiguous, and diverse and so requires wisdom to discern how to apply it in our time. God is not a helicopter parent, writes Enns, and so we shouldn’t expect Him to spell out every single thing He requires of His children. You can’t just read these laws in a hyper-literal fashion and apply them “as is,” because the commands
...more
Andrew Bolick
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Disclosure: I received a free/proof copy of this book as part of the HarperOne launch team.

Is the Bible a monolith which gives homogeneous answers to perennial questions; is that an understanding apparent from actually reading the trajectory of the library of books which make up the Bible?

How the Bible Actually Works embraces and explores the notion that the collection of diverse literature contained in the Old and New Testaments models for us something other than a "rule-book". In fact, the B
...more
Chad
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the purpose of full disclosure, I received an advanced free copy of the book from HarperOne in exchange for an honest review.

I had the unique experience this past week of being a part of Peter Enns' launch team for his latest book How the Bible Actually Works: In Which I Explain How an Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather than Answers-- and Why That's Great News. Whew, that's quite the sub-title. From my past encounters with Enns' works (see my review of The Bible T
...more
Devin Cashman
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We need more humor in the study of the Bible, said no one ever. Well, no one until Pete Enns came along and began writing his “Books for Normal People,” a slightly tongue in cheek ,though apt, description of his works meant to engage the average reader in the study of the Bible and what it means to a life of faith. Dr. Enns is a biblical scholar who teaches and writes on both the Old and New Testaments. This serious subject matter doesn’t prevent him from noticing we often take ourselves a bit t ...more
Rob Coyle
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some in the scholarly world who are lovers of deconstruction, dismantling and tearing apart the Scripture in an effort to prove it unreliable and, therefore, unneeded. Old. Disjointed. Useless. They are like mechanics who only know how to take apart your car and tell you what was wrong with it, but are unable (or unwilling) to put it back together the way it ACTUALLY was intended to work.

Putting the parts back together is what Peter Enns offers his readers. He doesn't simply deconstruc
...more
Michael Wright
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians interested in Biblical interpretation
#harperonepartner
#wisebible
#howthebibleactuallyworks

Full disclosure - I received an uncorrected proof free of charge from HarperOne as a member of the Launch Team for this book.

I became a fan of Dr. Pete Enns through his podcasting, and have listened to every episode of The Bible for Normal People which he hosts with Jared Byas. It is through my connection to this podcast community that I came to read How the Bible Actually Works, the first of Dr. Enns' writings I have actually read save some bl
...more
Caitlin Elliott
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*I received this book for free from HarperOne as part of the launch team, in exchange for my honest review.* #harperonepartner #wisebible

Wow! What a book. Even if I didn’t agree with everything herein, i have a lot to chew on as I reflect. Enns thesis—that the Bible propels is toward practicing wisdom instead of finding concrete answers—is compelling and and makes sense to me as a way to view a faith that holds in tension the ancient and the modern.
Edward Glasscock
I began a process of deconstructing my faith about 2 years ago. Specifically, I had begun having problems accepting that God is a God of wrath who drowns people (the flood story) and endorses smashing babies' heads against stones (Ps 137:9). I was having problems believing that all of the stories in the old testament should be taken as literal history, such as the ones involving snakes talking (the temptation of Eve) or people surviving inside a whale for 3 days (Jonah). Basically, I was coming ...more
Tyler Jarvis
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: The publisher sent me a free advance copy of this book for review purposes. Which was fortunate for me, because I was planning to buy it and read it when it came out anyway.

This is a good book. An informative book. A potentially helpful book, if it finds the right audience.

The premise of the book is, essentially, that the Bible is a complicated collection of ancient near eastern writings that has great potential to be misunderstood by the masses who read it. Dr. Pete Enns takes the
...more
Jordy
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#harperonepartner
#wisebible
#howthebibleactuallyworks

*I was given an advance preview of this book by Harper one which includes the introduction and first chapter*

Let's be honest, for anyone who has had a serious crack at regular reading of the bible you have to admit that it is pretty hard to "figure it out". In this latest book Pete Enns set out to re-define, for many at least, just what it means to "figure out" the bible.

By looking at three characteristics: ancientness, ambiguity and diversi
...more
Brandon
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here are three reasons you should read this book:

1. This book is accessible to people regardless of their religious background. He welcomes all. Christian, marginally Christian, previously Christian, never Christian. If the Bible is interesting, or exciting, or confusing, or maddening, then this book is for you.

2. The footnotes alone are worth double the price of the book. Peter Enns uses the footnotes to give additional information, provide clarifications, and (most enjoyable) crack a few joke
...more
Taylor Weir
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I loved about this book and Pete Enn's work in general is that he never tells you what to think or believe, which totally fits the whole theme of the book: using wisdom to decipher meaning. Anybody who has struggled with the Bible as a literal, rule-book concept should give this one a read. I encourage you to go in with an open mind and allow yourself to see things from the other perspective. You will not find specific, hard and fast answers to the big questions - you are only encouraged to ...more
Tim Chambers
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Been a long time fan of Peter Enns's writing and blog and podcast.

Since my 30's I'd been dealing with a long held intuition that the Bible either a particularly bad "Holy Book" or that being a "Holy Book" must mean something more than I was taught at a very theologically conservative church in my early twenties.

There I was taught that the Bible was a word-for-word inspired and infallible guide that spoke nothing but literal truth in all it addressed. In essence: "Biblicism." Or as I was taught,
...more
Brian Tervo
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a big Pete Enns fan, I was excited to be part of the launch team for this book and receive an advanced copy. Like his other books, this one doesn't disappoint. Full of his sarcasm and wit, Enns explains how important it is to understand how the Bible's ancient contexts, ambiguous nature, and diversity is a good thing! Rather than something to be explained away, these Biblical characteristics should be embraced--just as the Biblical writers themselves embraced them.

Enns points out, in his scho
...more
Bill Cutler
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who has lived and ministered in the evangelical tradition for six decades, I have read, thought about, and struggled a lot with the Bible. The statement of faith I affirmed included a statement about the unique divine inspiration and authority of the Bible … but without clarifying what that really meant. In this book, Peter Enns plays a role akin of that to the little boy in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in that he points out that the edifice of Biblical authority in the broad ...more
Hilary
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Peter Enns for several years now. I’ve enjoyed learning from his writing and his podcast with Jared Byas, The Bible for Normal People. I read Enns’ previous books, The Bible Tells Me So and The Sin of Certainty, so I was excited to see that he had come out with a new book that would present a “big picture” overview of the Bible – how it works, as well as how we are to understand and interpret it. Enns argues that the Bible is ancient, ambiguous and diverse. Its purpose is no ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Pontius Pilate
  • The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story
  • Inventing Hell: Dante, the Bible and Eternal Torment
  • What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?
  • Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships
  • Synopsis of the Four Gospels
  • Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written
  • The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background & Early Christianity
  • The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
  • Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
  • The Alphabet of Grace
  • Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire
  • A History of Judaism
  • Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith
  • The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature
  • How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying About God and the Bible
  • Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide
  • The Birth of the Messiah
See similar books…
265 followers
Peter Enns is Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has taught courses at several other institutions including Harvard University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Enns is a frequent contributor to journals and encyclopedias and is the author of several books, including Inspiration and Incarnation, The Evo ...more
“The spiritual disconnection many feel today stems precisely from expecting (or being told to expect) the Bible to be holy, perfect, and clear, when in fact after reading it they find it to be morally suspect, out of touch, confusing, and just plain weird.” 2 likes
“a common burden so many Christians have unwittingly carried, namely, that watching over us is God, an unstable parent, who is right off the bat harsh, vindictive, at best begrudgingly merciful, and mainly interested in whether we’ve read and understood the fine print; if not, God has no recourse but to punish us.” 1 likes
More quotes…