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Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today Hardcover – March 18, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (March 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006223496X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062234964
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“When I think about how many people have been turned off to the Christian faith because of how they mis-read and mis-understand the Bible, I can only say, ‘Thank you Jesus for this book!’ It’s going to help a lot of people.” (Tony Campolo, Founder and President, Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education)

“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 Christianity—and 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)

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.


More About the Author

Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, one of the fastest growing, most highly visible churches in the country. The Church Report named Hamilton's congregation the most influential mainline church in America, and he preached at the National Prayer Service as part of the presidential inauguration festivities in 2013. Hamilton is the best-selling and award-winning author of The Journey, The Way, 24 Hours that Changed the World, Enough, When Christians Get it Wrong, and Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, all published by Abingdon Press.

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My bible study is reading this book.
Carole
The scripture is so important in our life today, but this book takes a hard look at how we should really look at the Bible.
James A. Lee
Easy to read, thought provoking and makes sense.
Richard L. Wheeler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By David Crumm on April 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As a lifelong journalist covering religion in America, I have been skeptical of Adam Hamilton's rapid rise in popularity nationwide. How was he doing this in a mainline Protestant church? Why were so many people, now 20,000 members, flocking to his Church of the Resurrection? Then, recently, I had an opportunity to do solid journalistic research into his history, his work today and specifically this new book as well as its related study materials. Turns out: He's a brilliant and faithful pastor with a heart, and a writing and speaking style, that welcomes and respects his audience.

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.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robert Steven Thomas TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very important book and the author deserves a great deal of credit for his courage and extensive research in writing it. While many modern people claim to possess a full understanding of the story concerning the actual creation of both the New & Old Testaments, the historically accurate formation of these two important contributions to mankind remain a mystery shrouded in the archaeological veil and dust of time scattered over three millennia. It is estimated that Exodus took place in approximately 1350 BC. What language was the original Old Testament first written in? Hieroglyphs? (Moses was raised and educated as an Egyptian prince) Cuneiform? It could not have been Hebrew! The oldest artifact ever discovered written in Hebrew only dates back to approximately 750 BC, six hundred years after Moses. How was the Old Testament written? When, where and by whom? There are similar questions and gaps in knowledge surrounding the formation of the New Testament as well. There is no blasphemy here. The author's gentle scholarship and presentation bridges these legitimate historical mysteries in a manner that is non-offensive to any individual or religious branch of faith and will help the reader to a greater appreciation for the importance of these questions and knowledge of scripture. This is an important subject for those of all Western faiths to consider.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Keith Noren on May 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the book for you.

As a long time bible reader I see much wisdom for living and understanding human conditions in its pages. Think of 1 Cor 13 or the Sermon on the Mount, or Amos's social commentary. I have taught Sunday School usually in a biblical expository manner for over 35 years. Many times I have found that needed voice of reason and encouragement to buoy my spirits, straighten my course, and provide solace/guidance to fellow life travelers. It adds much purpose and meaning to my life and I witness it has done so for believers in many life situations. Humans are not just a punctuated equilibrium in a random evolutionary growth of colliding atoms. It is right and good to value the bible for these reasons.

At the same time, the bible is not an item to be worship (and that is why I'm not capitalizing it herein). Nor is it perfectly reliable in historical fact, scientific fact, ethical instruction, theological reflection, steps towards salvation, or what God might have in store for His creation in the future or after our deaths. I have had to "wrestle" (as Hamilton explains) with many texts and in all honesty have had to side with Jesus's main messages and the Spirit of God over and against other biblical texts.

It is understandable that Christian conservatives have tried to safeguard the bible's wisdom by declaring it as the absolute "word of God" (verbal inspiration), of equal value throughout its pages (plenary inspiration) and incapable of any error (inerrancy). In response to the Enlightenment and the Historical-Critical method of unraveling the bible' context in the 1700-1800's, conservatives built up many must-believe dogmas like bible inerrancy. But that is not needed; the bible can speak for itself if you stick with it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By swimmingranny on April 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been a Bible teacher for decades and have written and edited for a major denominational publishing house. As a pastor's wife, I also witnessed many people struggle with their faith primarily because of some parts of the Bible. I knew Hamilton's treatment would be clear and informative, based on several other books of his I've read. But this one was especially touching. Not only does he fearlessly and intelligently address the "problems" in the scriptures (ex: genocide commanded by God?), but he also lovingly bears witness to the life-changing story of Jesus. His personal testimony in Chapter 24 ("Can We Trust the Gospel Accounts of Jesus?") brought me back to the roots of my faith. I came away from this experience more deeply committed to Christ than ever before. Thank you, Adam Hamilton. This book will bring a lot of people home. I'm doing my best to recommend it to everyone I know.
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