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God Against the Gods: Storytelling, Imagination and Apologetics in the Bible Kindle Edition
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Again, Godawa presents a look into the culture and writings of the ancient Hebrew and their surrounding neighbors, and in doing so, presents us with a deeper understanding of many texts of Scripture that, when taken too literally, become confusing.
The premise is, the ancients wrote in a literary style that we are not necessarily expecting from them, and until we recognize this fact, we are prone to misinterpret what the writers were trying to get across in Scripture. This has been a big problem in the modern church for decades upon decades, and Godawa joins the ranks of many, many other writers delving into these topics.
Ever since the discovery of the Ugaritic texts in 1929, and the Dead Sea Scrolls a few decades later, the understanding of Scripture has opened wider than at almost any other point in church history, yet the typical preacher/teacher and pew sitter have no clue about the depths of this topic being written and exposed. Sadly, without a better understanding of this ancient worldview, the modern church is doomed to continue misunderstanding the text and will continue propagating an alien view of the Scripture.
I will briefly mention a few chapters that stand out. Chapters one and two start right off looking at how story telling was done in the Old Testament. How they took the names of the other gods and twisted them in a belittling manner, as well as taking the stories of those gods and twisted them and took them over, applying them to Yahweh while demonizing the original gods. This is very helpful because many atheists want to say Judaism/Christianity just stole their theology from other nations. Once you grasp the true story telling aspect, you understand the Scriptures are a taking of those stories and inserting the truth with Yahweh at the center - so no, they are not just stolen stories. These two chapters alone should be a booklet that all Christians need to read, learn and understand - but wait there is more.
Chapters three and four look at Biblical creation and cosmology in the ancient mind. Enjoyable, but it was chapter five that stood out to me even more. Here Godawa discusses New Testament storytelling, dealing specifically with Acts 17:16-34 where Paul defends the gospel at the Areopagus in Athens. He breaks down the discussion verse by verse showing how Paul's style is doing pretty much what was already covered in the second chapter. He takes familiar story elements from the Greeks and twists them to make his point about Yahweh. This chapter was most enjoyable.
Sadly, all good things come to an end, and only a couple chapters later found myself at the end of this enlightening book. Every chapter is worth its salt here, those mentioned were just a few that struck me the most. I encourage all Christians to read this, but especially those unfamiliar with the ancient near Eastern worldview and its influence of the Hebrew Scriptures. There are tons of deeper scholarly works on this subject, but start here, Godawa is writing to the average person and is easy to grasp.
While the Nephilim Chronicles are written primarily as fiction, God Against the gods compiles the scholarly articles and writings that Brian Godawa has written over the years. They are the foundation of his worldview and the guidelines for the immersive culture he created for Chronicles. For me, some of the concepts are stunning in their simplicity; sometimes the most impactful things are not the complicated ones, but the ones that make you adjust the course of how you see the world, rather than in how you interpret the details. This book helps you understand that the world is larger than our current filters, and just because things make sense to us in our current concept, does not mean that was necessarily their original intent and/or meaning.
One prime example of this for me is how Godawa explains the concept of parable. Noting that Jesus consistently uses parable to explain concepts to his followers seems simple enough, but this book promotes the idea that as Jesus uses parable, so perhaps part of the Bible is parable. This doesn't make it untrue, but it does perhaps help us understand that we must see things in the local context, and not only within our current, literal understanding. We must see beyond our own narrow worldview, and be willing to accept that God's truth will indeed exist beyond our science-constrained approach.
If you'd prefer to maintain your small, manageable view of God and the Bible, don't read this book. If you're willing to accept that God's truth may extend beyond your human understanding, take a look.