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Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today Hardcover – March 18, 2014
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“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)
“Helpful, pastoral, and hopeful....this book is a gift to the broader church at a time when we are not simply wrestling with so-called controversial issues, but perhaps discerning a fresh word from God on how to live as faithful Christ-followers in the twenty-first century.” (The Covenant Companion)
“The best single volume introduction to the bible.” (The Quarterly Journal of the Academy of Parish Clergy)
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Hamilton’s goal is to help people who aren’t familiar with the Bible, or who are troubled by certain passages in it, to “make sense of it.” To this, end he begins very helpfully with the crucial question, “What exactly is the Bible?” (p. 7). He explains that it is not what it is often considered to be: an “owner’s manual,” a source of random guidance, a collection of data for systematic theology, a science and history textbook, or a treasury of “precious promises.”
Hamilton then provides historical, geographic, and literary overviews of the Bible to orient readers to its background and contents. These will be valuable and helpful resources for the many today who don’t start with a basic knowledge of the Bible. Hamilton addresses some questions about the nature of Scripture and then devotes the last half of the book to “making sense of the Bible’s challenging passages.”
As I read through the book, there were certain chapters that I found very meaningful personally. Hamilton’s testimony in Chapter 24 of how he “came to love Jesus” by reading the gospels is poignant and beautiful. And I would recommend his reflections on suffering in the preceding chapter to anyone who is going through difficult times.
So what’s my one disagreement? It’s with Hamilton’s answer to the question of what the Bible actually is. He says it is a collection of books “written by men seeking to express what they believed was God’s will.Read more ›
That said, Hamilton's strength may be his weakness. Hamilton has a thoughtful pastor's ability to simplify the complex. Sometimes that works, but other times it oversimplifies or creates false dichotomies. Pastor Hamilton and I share many of the same conclusions - not all, but many. However, I am concerned that some of his conclusions set forth here will not ultimately bear the weight his other conclusions require them to bear.
For example, Hamilton openly admits he's a traditional Christian fundamentalist on 4.5 of the 5 "Fundamentals (p. 298)," including the virgin birth of Jesus and Christ's atonement for humanity's sin. But Hamilton has consciously shifted toward a classically Liberal Protestant understanding of biblical inspiration and authority, one which tilts toward human authorship rather than divine influence upon the Bible. When Liberal Protestants of the early 20th c. took the same route, they eventually left those Fundamentals behind.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author claims to love the Bible but the truth is he loves to misrepresent it and mock it. He is quick to accept the attitudes of modern culture and the speculations of the... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Dave
This is a wonderful book. Explains so many things about the Bible.Published 10 days ago by Luvmybooks
Hamilton goes beyond simply asserting that cultural differences led to no longer appropriate admonitions. Read morePublished 1 month ago by James C. Tyrone
this is very interesting and eye-opening It took a long time to read because of checking the Bible so often but it was well written. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jane Paire
This book didn't have all the information I was looking for.Published 1 month ago by Jan K Henricks