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Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today Hardcover – March 18, 2014
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“Wondrously accessible, Hamilton combines good scholarship with a light touch and exhibits his wise, generous pastoral heart. Hamilton does not let us forget that he bears witness to the gospel and the result is a discussion that permits readers to think again and faithfully about the Bible.” (Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary)
“Clear, straightforward, lucid, faithful, helpful. Highly recommended.” (James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage)
“This is an honest, relevant, and captivating book. Hamilton asks taboo questions and refuses cliché answers. He invites you to join him on a quest for truth, and even if you don’t arrive at the same destination, you will sure enjoy the ride.” (Shane Claiborne, author and activist)
“Acting as friend and guide to those who seek to read the Bible intelligently and with spiritual insight, Hamilton walks readers through the pitfalls of fundamentalism and dry scholarship, opening up both the Bible’s profound humanity and its wisdom for living.” (Diana Butler Bass, author of Christianity After Religion)
“I can think of no one more adept at bringing out the beauty and authority of scripture while also shedding light on the Bible’s most controversial teachings than Adam Hamilton. This is a must read for anyone who is looking for a fuller understanding of the Bible.” (Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners and author of On God's Side)
“If you hope there’s a better way to read, live by, and value the Bible, Hamilton has written the book that will help you-and people you know and love. It’s understandable. It’s honest. It’s wise. And it’s so, so needed.” (Brian D. McLaren author of We Make the Road by Walking)
This isn’t your grandfather’s revivalism. Equal parts an evangelical return to the Bible as the foundation of Protestant Christianityand a scholarly, inclusive approach to understanding scripture that draws on themes familiar to readers of Brian D. McLaren, Rob Bell and Marcus Borg. Most importantly, for the millions of men and women who have been avoiding churches for years, this is a faithful and intelligent orientation to the Bible. (Read the Spirit)
“Helpful, pastoral, and hopeful....this book is a gift to the broader church at a time when we are not simply wrestling with so-called controversial issues, but perhaps discerning a fresh word from God on how to live as faithful Christ-followers in the twenty-first century.” (The Covenant Companion)
From the Back Cover
In Making Sense of the Bible, Adam Hamilton invites us into an honest conversation about the Bible. The book begins with foundational questions such as, How and when was the Bible written? Who decided which books made it into the scriptures and why? How literally must we read it? And, Is the Bible ever wrong?
From there, Hamilton considers the real questions people frequently ask that continue to divide Christians and denominations alike, including:
- Were Adam and Eve real people?
- Why is God so violent in the Old Testament?
- Why would Paul command women to "keep silent in the church"?
- Is Jesus the only way to salvation?
- How does God view homosexual people?
- Is the Book of Revelation a guide to the End Times?
In approachable and inviting language, Hamilton addresses these often misunderstood biblical themes leading readers to a deeper appreciation of the Bible so that we might hear God speak through it and find its words to be life-changing and life-giving.
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Top Customer Reviews
I see themes in this book that echo N.T. Wright as well as Marcus Borg. I hear Brian McLaren's compassionate evangelical voice echoing here. I see Rob Bell's passion for the Bible, coupled with top scholarship, echoed here. If you're a fan of any of those authors, you'll find yourself comfortably enjoying this book. You may not agree with every conclusion Hamilton draws in this book, but his scholarship is rock solid and his invitation to think about the Bible in new ways is clear and inviting.
Research has long shown us that America is distinctive in the world for the intensity of our faith, as a culture, and for our outspoken desire as Americans to express ourselves. Unfortunately, research also shows that a majority of Americans, when asked, can't name the four Gospels. Whether that describes you as you read about this new book, or whether you've been involved in a congregation all your life, reading this book is sure to make you think about the Bible from new perspectives.
In addition to an excellent opening section that provides a sweeping overview of the Bible, its history and its timeless power, about half of the book looks at individual topics that have troubled people of faith over the centuries. The sections on violence and on slavery and on gender are fascinating and make great choices for small-group discussion in your community.
Hamilton’s goal is to help people who aren’t familiar with the Bible, or who are troubled by certain passages in it, to “make sense of it.” To this, end he begins very helpfully with the crucial question, “What exactly is the Bible?” (p. 7). He explains that it is not what it is often considered to be: an “owner’s manual,” a source of random guidance, a collection of data for systematic theology, a science and history textbook, or a treasury of “precious promises.”
Hamilton then provides historical, geographic, and literary overviews of the Bible to orient readers to its background and contents. These will be valuable and helpful resources for the many today who don’t start with a basic knowledge of the Bible. Hamilton addresses some questions about the nature of Scripture and then devotes the last half of the book to “making sense of the Bible’s challenging passages.”
As I read through the book, there were certain chapters that I found very meaningful personally. Hamilton’s testimony in Chapter 24 of how he “came to love Jesus” by reading the gospels is poignant and beautiful. And I would recommend his reflections on suffering in the preceding chapter to anyone who is going through difficult times.
So what’s my one disagreement? It’s with Hamilton’s answer to the question of what the Bible actually is. He says it is a collection of books “written by men seeking to express what they believed was God’s will.Read more ›
Making Sense of the Bible is divided into two sections: Section One. The Nature of Scripture. This section is further divided into two, the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament Hamilton tackles issues of biblical geography and timeline, who wrote the Old Testament, when, and why? Which Books made it into the Old Testament and Why? Jesus and the Old Testament, etc. And in the New Testament, issues such as who really wrote Paul’s Letters, how, when, and why the Gospels were written? Why Books made it into the New Testament and why? etc. Furthermore, both an overview of the Old and New Testaments are given, each of which, according to Hamilton, can cover in fifteen minutes. In this section, the reader also encounters the various genres of Scripture, matters of canonization, etc. B. Questions About the Nature of Scripture. Is the Bible Inspired? Is the Bible the Word of God? How Does God Speak to and Through Us? Is the Bible Inerrant and Infallible? And A High View of Scripture? For Hamilton, when it comes to the Bible’s inspiration, the only difference between the biblical writers and preachers who mount the pulpit today, in the 21st century, is the proximity to the events described in the Bible. On the question Is the Bible the Word of God, Hamilton relies somewhat on Karl Barth, concluding, “The Bible contains the word of God found within the words of its human authors” (p. 152). Hamilton rejects both the doctrines of inerrancy and infallibility and challenges the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, favoring instead the fact that Jesus, “This Word of God is inerrant and infallible. He is fully inspired. He did not come mediated by others” (p. 150).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a failed attempt to deal with the essential truth about the Bible: it makes no sense. It is fake history from beginning to end, easily refuted at every turn. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Muggles5
Adam Hamilton's style of writing is so logically put and easy to comprehend.Published 4 days ago by Dawn Harrison
I'm still reading and studying this book. But I find it very good.Published 7 days ago by Lois A Dunning
it opens my mind and soul for many spiritual and intellectual perspectives . For Ten years I was living the Old Testament ,due to my upbringing and cultural background . Read morePublished 17 days ago by Manal Eweis
There is lots to appreciate about this scholarly analysis of The Bible. However, I fear it invites readers to slide down a terribly slippery slope of putting the individual in the... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Darren Short
Excellent book! It's both reverent toward the Bible, but at the same time honest and straightforward about the difficult passages.Published 22 days ago by Grangr5
I've just read for a second time. While I don't agree with everything, the book allows me to challenge the difficult biblical stories on one hand, and yet hold onto Inspiration in... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Rick Matson
This book provides an excellent overview of the Bible for both persons who have very little or quite a bit of knowledge.Published 1 month ago by Carolyn G. Mcnelly