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Pocket Guide to the Bible: A Little Book About the Big Book Paperback – May, 2006

4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Boyett (Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse) packs a surprising amount of information into this little guide. With humor always at the ready, he dashes through a glossary of biblical terms, a list of key characters and a summary of every book of the Bible. The introduction kicks off with a nod to the difficulties of biblical interpretation and a few of the less-than-stellar movements it helped inspire ("The Bible has motivated its readers to tend the sick.... It also motivated the Crusades"). This forthright tone continues throughout, though Boyett clearly writes from an evangelical perspective. The guide also includes an interesting history of the English Bible and summary of translations. Younger readers who would like to be more familiar with the biblical text will appreciate Boyett's tone, while older readers who have been in the church most of their lives will learn—or be reminded of—many things along the way. The book has a few weaknesses: the endless list of books and biblical events gets tedious; readers may have benefited more from thematic summaries. And there are a few references those outside the church won't understand. But overall, the guide is well written, fun and brief—which, when you're attempting to summarize the entire Bible, is quite an accomplishment. (June 6)
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From the Publisher

It's the world's all-time best seller. It's the most influential book in Western civilization. It's sitting in practically every home in America. Yet few of us have a clue about what's going on within our Bibles' gold-lined, onionskin pages. Until now. In Pocket Guide to the Bible: A Little Book About the Big Book, author Jason Boyett hilariously spotlights the events, characters and themes of the Old and New Testaments.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Relevant Books (May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976817543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976817543
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,627,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Drew B. Moser on June 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Hypothetical situation: I'm a publisher. I come to you with an idea. You're going to write a book about the Bible. You know that the Bible is the most read, most controversial, most complex text ever written. It spans centuries and genres. Oh yeah, and you're supposed to make this book accessible to a mass audience, so take out all of the fancy words. Oh yeah...make it funny. A short guidebook to the Bible that's easy to understand and funny. We'll call it the Pocket Guide to the Bible.

Sounds ludicrous! But that's exactly what Jason Boyett sets out to accomplish in Pocket Guide to the Bible: A Little Book About the Big Book. And, in most respects, he nails it, with a frankness and hilarity that many scholars could learn from.

If you're looking for a brief guide on biblical interpretation (aka: hermeneutics), keep looking. Boyett's not trying to dissect the difficult Hebrew and Greek syntax. But, if you're looking for a witty, lighthearted approach to a serious text (the Bible), then this book's for you.

Boyett pulls no punches in exposing some of the more ridiculous stories and texts in the Bible, yet at the same time tries to uphold it's authority and majesty. One part glossary (or, to use his term, `biblicabulary'), another part roll call of Biblical characters, and yet another part Biblical survey, and yet another part history of translations and versions, and finally, a concluding part humorous miscellany of quirky Biblical facts and observations, Boyett `guides' one through the Bible like no book on Scripture I've ever read.

At times I laughed out loud, and at other times I skimmed to the next chapter. That is to say, take this Pocket Guide for what it is: a Pocket Guide.
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Format: Paperback
Here's the thing you have to know about PGttB: it's fun to read. Yes, it's about the Bible. Yes, you actually learn stuff. But Boyett does the impossible and takes some very dry material and injects it with a huge dose of humor and gobs of intelligence. A lot of research clearly went into the book to pack it full of this much information. The book is well-organized as well. Here's the ToC:

Biblicabulary - "A glossary of the Good Book," pretty self-explanatory

Cast of Characters (A to J) - The major players of the Bible, plus some of the weirder minor ones too.

Cast of Characters (K to Z) - See above.

What Happens, Part 1 - "The Old Testament at breakneck speed," pretty much the Cliff Notes version of the Bible

What Happens, Part 2 - "The New Testament at breakneck speed."

The Brief History of the Holy Writ - "A timeline," basically the complete history of the Bible.

Versions and Perversions - "A selective survey of translations," this chapter runs through the major players in the translation game. Disappointingly doesn't cover the Hippie Bible, but I'm letting it slide.

List Ye Be Smitten - "Biblical Flotsam and Jetsam," a bunch of lists of really random stuff, really funny, weird things here.

Who to recommend this book to? I think that anyone could get something out of this book. People who know everything about the Bible will enjoy the dry wit applied to the subject. Those who know nothing about the Bible will find themselves amused and learning quite a bit in a short amount of time. Those who have no sense of humor about the subject will probably hate this book.
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Format: Paperback
...that uses the word "bazongas". (To quote the author accurately, he's defining the Biblical usage of the word "flesh", giving an example in the sentence: "When Angelina Jolie showed up with her newly adopted AIDS orphan, my spirit sympathized with her concern for the hurting children of the world, but my flesh kept staring at her bazongas.")

And that, my friends, is an excellent litmus test to see if you'll enjoy and/or find a use for the Pocket Guide To The Bible: A Little Book About the Big Book, written by Jason Boyett & published by Relevant Books. If the thought of an overview of the Holy Bible making irreverent pop cultural references to explain theological concepts makes your skin crawl, you are probably not the audience for this book. OTOH, if describing the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites across the Red Sea with the pithy aside that "at which point Pharoah's army realizes 'Swim Like An Egyptian' will never be the title of a hit Bangles song," then this might be right up your alley.

It's important to define what this book is and is not. (I'll leave it to ex-President Clinton to attempt to define what is is.)

- It is a funny book... on purpose. The author is trying (and often succeeding) at penning humorous glimpses at the stories of Scripture and the history of how it got into our hot little hands. It feels a bit like The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy for the Bible. (Please understand - I mean this as a compliment. And I'm not referring to the less-than-spectacular feature film.)

- It is informationally sound... even if it's primary purpose is humor, the basic information presented is a reasonably fair & accurate representation of current scholarship on the Bible.

- It is NOT a tract.
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