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Inspiriting Bible Reading and Historic Snapshot of an American President,
This review is from: NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter (Hardcover)As a journalist covering religion in America over three decades, I reported on the rise of the devotional Bible in the 1980s and 1990s as publishers' doors burst with special editions of Holy Writ containing additional inspirational texts aimed at women, men, youth, then pregnant women, sportsmen and other specialized niches. A few years ago, a Golfer's Bible even showed up with a ball and clubs on the cover. I understand the underlying importance of these books: Repeated studies have shown that most American households own a Bible, most Bible owners have more than one edition and most Americans think of themselves as regular Bible readers, whether we are or not.
Why have we seen such a flood of inspirational niche Bibles? Beyond offering fresh translations that try to make the words as clear as possible and after all of the "study helps" have been added, publishers wonder: How can we encourage more people to actually open the Bible and read it? Their answer is to sprinkle the writing of truly compelling authors from the modern era throughout the pages of these ancient texts. The idea is that the additional notes will help readers see the contemporary relevance of scripture. However, these days, finding truly memorable devotional Bibles in the overall ocean of offerings is a challenge. Currently, as I review the Carter Bible, I am also recommending two other recent Bibles in this genre: In 2010, The C.S. Lewis Bible was released, and in early 2012 Eugene Peterson's own helpful texts were added to a special Message Study Bible in an edition called: The Message Study Bible: Capturing the Notes and Reflections of Eugene H. Peterson. Along with the Carter Bible, I can equally recommend the new Lewis and Peterson devotional Bibles to readers.
These new Carter Bibles are likely to sell well, especially if the countless Americans who travel great distances to visit his Bible Study class in Plains, Georgia, snap them up. For this new devotional Bible, editors worked with Carter to gather hundreds of excerpts from the Bible Study materials he generated for Sunday school at the Plains church.
Here's an important clarification: If you're among Carter's many fans for his humanitarian work around the world, you should know in advance that you will not find anecdotes or references to his globe-hopping projects. The notes in this book are his personal reflections on the Bible as a veteran teacher. You won't find any famous contemporary names dropped. You won't find him retelling any famous stories from his long political career.
However, admirers of Carter's moral stances will find his crystal-clear voice linking the Bible to contemporary life from Genesis to Revelation. For example, this particular edition might be called "The Humble Bible" for the many times Carter highlights the Bible's prophetic calls to humility in general and to humble public service in particular. He rarely misses an opportunity to point out a biblical example of the dangers of unchecked power in our world. His prayers and meditations will resonate with your heart, if you look at his life and say to yourself: I like what that man is doing and saying. The pages of this Bible embody his moral voice that springs directly from his faith.
A word to Carter critics: There are many who oppose some of Carter's projects and some of his viewpoints. This Amazon review is not the place to engage in that kind of often-heated debate, especially because Carter himself avoids such debates in the pages of this Bible. Carter worked on this project with the goal of producing a Bible for future generations, so he tried to avoid references that would lock this book in a time capsule and make its references seem dated within a short span of time. This Bible contains reflections on the underlying moral and spiritual principles that he sees in biblical passages. This Bible doesn't represent fuel for further debate about specific stances he has taken.
Finally, this Bible is truly a historic landmark. The religious beliefs of American presidents are a timeless source of public curiosity. As a journalist, I can't count the stories I reported in election years about the religious attitudes of our national leaders. Recently, I also reviewed two wonderful new editions of the classic Jefferson Bible: First, there is a Smithsonian edition in color, called The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Edition: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth and, second, there is an equally fascinating Tarcher black-and-white version restored from a classic World War II-era edition, called simply The Jefferson Bible. As a result, these days, Jefferson's 200-year-old Bible is flying off the printing presses once again. That's yet another reason that many readers may want to own a copy of Carter's Bible. It's already a classic as a snapshot of an important American president.
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Initial post: Apr 8, 2012 9:09:29 PM PDT
Ms. Lala says:
This review is actually helpful! I was beginning to think that it would be impossible to find an unbiased review of President Carter's new work. Thank you!
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