Reading through the entire Bible is for some a daunting task. I know it took me months! And while I'd suggest that everyone attempt to read the entire Bible (KJV is my favorite) I can also recommend reading "The Story" as a quick way to familiarize yourself with all the main stories the Bible offers.
I never get tired of reading about Boaz and Ruth, David and Bathsheba and Daniel in the Lion's Den. This book also focuses on the life of Paul from the New Testament. The Gospels are also condensed into six chapters with the story flowing beautifully and no repeats. So you read about Jesus' life in a logical progression.
Because this reads like a novel it brings the biblical stories to life in a new and interesting way. There are however many omissions that had to be made in order to keep to a manageable book size. You won't find chapters on Jewish law or very many references to chronology. Revelation seems to have been shortened and many books of the Old Testament are not included like Psalms and Proverbs.
If you have read the entire Bible this will become apparent to you. So I'd suggest reading this book as it will give you new perspectives. I would not in any way suggest that you read this instead of reading the entire Bible because you will miss out on some important sections that might be very meaningful to you. This book will take you maybe a week to finish and will give you an overview of how much God loves the human race and what he has done to ensure that anyone who decides to believe in Jesus can have eternal life.
~The Rebecca Review
on September 9, 2011
It is not an easy task to reduce the size of the Bible to that of a typical novel. The Story, an excellent attempt at that task, is a sanitized and highly condensed version of the Bible. Early anomalous biblical stories (for example, God being concerned about primitive man reaching God's heavenly domain via a massive building project or Sons of God having relations with human females resulting in the birth of giants) are omitted. Most of the blood and gore including God-sanctioned genocides are omitted. Also most of the poetic section is omitted; nothing from Job, Ecclesiastes, or Song of Songs, and only a few Psalms and Proverbs are included. This is acceptable since the poetic section is somewhat tangential to the overall story. The included portions of the New Testament are summaries of the Gospels, Acts, some of Paul's epistles, and Revelation. I consider this a good book for one who is somewhat biblically illiterate desiring to understand Christianity from an evangelical point of view. However, for one seeking what it really means to be a follower of Christ, it is somewhat weak. For example, some of the most important portions of the Sermon on the Mount are omitted, and the entire Book of James is omitted. The omission of the Golden Rule may be the most serious flaw, especially in light of the fact that Jesus declares it to be the essence of the entire Law and Prophets. Also the essential aspect of relating to the least in society as Jesus explained in Matthew 25 is omitted. In summary, The Story is strong on encouraging one to become a Christian but somewhat weak on what that entails.
The name for this book was poorly chosen. Having read the Bible through several times I have come to recognize that it does contain a large narrative that holds all the threads together. However, this book seems to miss the mark at every turn! A better name might be excerpts from the story or even Bible Clif-Notes. Brief, yet important sections are left out all together without even a mention, like the tower of Babel. Some of the editorial comments are often just a bit off the mark of reality and thus produce a revisionist element to the biblical text and some comments also appear to be in subtle contradiction to the text that is there. Many of the parts of the Biblical narrative that are literary gem stones are missing. Long story short! This book was poorly edited for its purpose. I love the concept, someone should actually do that. This book however, I'm afraid falls short.
"The Story reveals the unfolding, grand narrative of the Scriptures. Using the clear, accessible text of the NIV, this rendering of the Bible allows its stories, poems, and teachings to come together in a single, compelling read."
I am relentlessly convinced that too many Christians are missing the big picture of the overall drama of human fall and salvation, how the Bible spiritual story fits into an integral narrative. As kids we heard tales of Noah and his ark, Jonah and the whale, as youngsters sat through Sunday School, and in adulthood we listened to sermons about salvation history, and the time of fullfillment. Those who continue to carry their daily devotions, may start relating to the biblical message assembling the puzzle pieces.
It astonishes me that as many others of my Christian and Jewish friends alike, who grew up in religious families, may have never got an overall grasp of what the Old Testament, or the New Testament messages are? How they integrate in a vivid story of God's love for his creation that the Bible continues to tell, much less, how to react with it, as a good Samaritan. In modern terms, of Jim Davies words, "To see the Bible with fresh depth through the 3D glasses of drama, doctrine, and directions?" So, after some weeks of study, they may come away with the ten Laws of the Decalogue, or sections of Old Testament history, or few gospel or epistle verses, and even pieces of Apocrepha. But do they fit together, and how would they integrate the verses, books, and the testaments together to clear the puzzle: The book of Old and New?
Reading the Bible is one thing, understanding it is another, but living it is eternal life, here, and now. Exploring the text, which "The Story" helps you understand and perceive the significance of each chapter in the scriptures. This book, an innovative Bible Story presents Scripture in chronological order, as a continued living narrative. Among the great teachers of Christian antiquity, Origen put the focus on the details of the scripture with his comprehensive breadth of hermeneutics. It was said that, "To read Origen's exegesis is like standing underneath a waterfall." At the same time, his approach consistently lead toward a unified reading of the text. "The Story", in a simple parallel, offers an articulate and conceptually precise rendition of scriptures and its interpretation. The overall picture of God's redemptive plan comes into focus as you learn about the timeline that shows how the events of 'The Story' relates to the rest of historical Plot, briefly describing the key themes of narrative, or a 'Cast of Characters'.
With a foreword by Rvd Max Lucado and Randy Frazee: "This book tells the most compelling story of faith in a true God who loves his children, guiding them in the way of salvation," and providing guideposts to eternal life. Introducing the people featured in the OT books, the first 21 chapters, in a tightly knitted story revealing the God of Old, who speaks, and acts. In the next ten chapters on the NT, the heavenly Father, whose love for his people culminates in the ministery of Jesus, to teach and by atones, healing by love for the fall of humanity. With two front and rear maps, and Epilogue, Discussion Questions, to tie loose ends, reflection on Characters in short biographies. Ending with a chart of references, for its 31 chapters, where core quotations of the Bible verses add a deeper understanding of the progress of the salfivic plan.
"I've been going to Sunday School all my life, and I've even been teaching Sunday School for years, but I've never understood how the whole Bible fits together until now." Jimmy Davis
on August 12, 2014
If you want to read a pseudo bible with half of it missing, where the publishers decided what parts of the bible were not necessary, look no further. This book will lead you and your church, down the road of deception. For those who do not want to know God's Word, this will be the best place to start. For those who desire the Truth, get yourself an actual bible and pass this book up.
The purpose of this book of selections from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible is disclosed in the last page of the volume, to hear "the truth. You've come face to face with the most important message you will ever hear: Jesus, God's Son, came, lived died and rose again." The author tells readers that they must "take a step down the narrow path that leads to unimaginable glory."
The editors of the book present 31 chapters, 21 from the Hebrew Bible and 10 from the New Testament, each focuses on a different event from the many that occur in the Bible. They include a "Timeline" giving what the editors consider the years of the episodes; short comments in the middle or end of some of these quotations from the NIV that connect one selection with the next when the editors delete some of the biblical narratives; and definitions of terms at the bottom of certain pages. Scholars will have some problems with the editors' information and comments.
* Many will disagree with the dates offered by the editors. For example, the consensus among scholars is that we cannot know the exact year of the Israelite exodus from Egyptian bondage, but it most likely occurred around 1200 BCE; they have the precise year 1446. The Bible has Abraham born 1948 years after creation, which is 3823 BCE; they have 2091. The Bible does not give the year of Moses' brother Aaron's death; they have 1406. There are many other similar differences.
* Some of the definitions are designed to suggest that the books of the Hebrew Bible teach about Christianity and Jesus. For example, the "holy spirit" in the Hebrew Bible is defined as "The manifestation of God who dwells within those who believe in Jesus Christ and empowers them to follow God's way. God is one God but acts in three `persons' of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit." One may, of course, interpret the Bible as one chooses, but in fairness, one should say that this is an interpretation and it is not explicit in the text. They translate "messiah" as "A name of Jesus that emphasizes his role as God's chosen deliverer." Actually, messiah means anointed, a king or high priest who had oil pored upon his head when he became king or high priest. Jews looked forward to the coming of a Jewish king, which is synonymous with messiah, to rule over them. Christians felt that Jesus was this king.
In short, people need to beware as they read this book because scholars disagree with many of the supposed facts.
on March 27, 2012
The biggest problem with The Story is abridgement. The Story leaves out about 3/4ths of the Bible. As some have noted, this does something similar to The Bible (Cliffs Notes) but is not directed to helping readers "dive deep" into the Bible text. Instead The Story is a kind of replacement for reading the Bible rather than a help to start reading the Bible. There's nothing in The Story that encourages its readers to eventually go on to reading the Bible itself--not in the text, the preface, the epilogue or even Max Lucado's and Randy Frazee's foreward.
What 3/4ths are left out? Not only the hard parts but even a lot of story (e.g., whole books like Job and Jonah) and almost all the psalms (only 4 of 150 make it in) and proverbs. Ruth is the only book with all chapters included. When you cut 3/4ths of a work, it's pretty well gutted.
The purpose of this book is to get people who normally don't read the Bible to read portions put in storybook format. But, the translation chosen is the NIV (supposedly 8th grade level reading--not that much easier than the New King James which is at 9th grade level.) The NIV is not a reader friendly translation. It would have been much better to use a translation aimed at common readers: New Living Translation (6th grade), Living Bible (4th grade), or Zondervan's own NIrV (3rd grade).
Compare the clunky, difficult phrasing of:
"And God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.' And it was so." (The Story, page 2)
"God said, 'Let there be lights in the huge space of the sky. Let them separate the day from the night. Let them serve as signs to mark off the seasons and the days and the years. Let them serve as lights in the huge space of the sky to give light on the earth.' And that's exactly what happened." (NIrV, Gen. 1:14)
Which one is better for story telling? It's a head scratcher that Zondervan chose to tell The Story using excerpts from the more difficult NIV translation. Chopped up sections are combined with a translation that was not designed to be story friendly.
For those who want a story format Bible, a better choice might be The Voice New Testament: Revised & Updated or The Voice Bible: Step Into the Story of Scripture.
UPDATE: The Voice Bible has its own translation problems. For example, the translation principles are inconsistent. They say they have have translated words like "Christ" to "Anointed One" rather than transliterated the word.
But, they have not done this consistently. Their principle of not transliterating does not hold true when the word is "antichrist". Lack of translation consistency shows up especially in I John 2:22 where Jesus is called "the Anointed One" but the antiChrist is not called the antiAnointed One.
"The liar is the one who says, 'Jesus is not really the Anointed One.' This is the antiChrist, the one denying both the Father and the Son."
And they have continued to transliterate "baptize" and "baptism" instead of translating it.
It doesn't bode well on such an important and complex work that their translation principles are inconsistent.
I wanted this volume to be great, and it has some pluses, but of course, there are some non-strengths, too. Compared to reading the entire Bible, with 31 chapters it is concise. As I read it, I kind of felt like I was telling myself Bible stories. If one wants to get a quick, potted overview, this is one way to do it. Not having the true references for each chapter listed either at the beginning or ending of that chapter is a disadvantage--as an appendix is a bit too removed.
Several years ago, a similar volume was much better done, called The Life of Christ in Stereo. Even older is the century old, but still published, Egermeier's Story of the Bible. Both of these are truer to the whole Bible, and more readable.
on January 23, 2013
First off, let me say that Max Lucado is an excellent author who has written many excellent books. I'm still reeling over an analogy he used many many many years ago describing the sinner (us) in relation with God as an old blind dog; wowzers, very profound stuff! However, when my church leadership decided to undertake a congregation wide study with the Story as the core material, to be honest, I had hesitations. The "idea" of the Story seems rather good and honest and rational. Why not start from the beginning of scripture and work your way through? My hesitations regarding the story have never been over subject matter. My hesitations are on what the "Story" creates. How much is too much when considering materialization and over commercialization, esp over material that ought to be completely free? The authors of this book took various fabrics of scripture (parts they themselves thought were relevant to the "larger story"), weaved in some personal discourse, slapped on a fancy art cover, put it in a box with more promotional's than a political campaign, and sold it to churches nation wide, at a "discount" price. I'm sorry, but the "story" is supplement, at best, in regards to the complete works of scripture. There is so much left out that a first time bible reader really ought to read the first time through, makes me weep.
But this cannot be completely negative. From what I've personally witnessed, the "Story," in all its flawed pre-packagedness, has created an environment continuative for folks who do not feel comfortable talking, reading, and/or studying the bible. The "story" is a bible in secular form that has given, from what I've seen, positive reinforcement for seekers who've never found the time to read the bible. The "story," as it seems, works best in a small group function.
So what can really be said about Max's "Story?" I'm thrilled over the positive effects the "story" has over non traditional bible readers, yet blatantly commercialized. Lastly, my final concern with the "story" is how church leadership might become over dependent on pre-packaged material...dependency on the "worship in a box" could over larger ramifications than we may have first realized.
on February 20, 2013
We're currently doing a Bible study in my church using "The Story."
I have significant reservations about "The Story." From time to time things jump out as contextually strange, and one finds that a New Testament text (and viewpoint) is being inserted "seamlessly" into an Old Testament story with no clue to the reader who doesn't already know the story, what's happening. From my viewpoint, and I've been a Christian for 50 years, they dumbed down the story and got it wrong.
In this book, the authors have a story they want to tell and they achieve that by cutting away everything that doesn't fit. I wouldn't have a problem with a book called "most beloved stories from the Bible" but this is not simply a collection of stories, but rather a collection of stories inserted into a narrative framework, cut and pasted from different eras and authors, to make a seamless, but fabricated, narrative to promote a particular interpretive agenda. It also leaves out lots of the juicy parts!
It also doesn't help that the book is based on the evangelically-adjusted NIV translation.
I wish I had a suggestion for an alternative, but Reader's Digest versions of the Bible aren't my usual territory. Better get a real Bible (a NRSV or NASB translation or the free The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References)) and just skip over the dull parts. If there are two pages of who begat whom, just skip it. If you see 600 Levitical laws standing in your path, just jump ahead. If there is a lengthy discourse about mold on walls or clothing, zoom ahead. Save Ezekiel for later. That way you can get the WHOLE STORY.