Monday, February 25, 2013

The Illustrated Guide to Bible Customs & Curiosities by George W. Knight

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The Illustrated Guide to Bible Customs & Curiosities
by George W. Knight

ISBN-13: 9781593107031
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books
Released: May 1, 2007

Source: Borrowed from the library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Why did Bible people wash each other's feet? What was wrong with Leah's "tender eyes"? Why were the Israelites forbidden to boil a young goat in its mother's milk? What did Jesus mean about His "yoke" being "easy"?

The Bible is full of puzzling things that an understanding of ancient times and cultures can help to explain. More than 750 clear, concise entries are included, covering every book of the Bible in order. Featuring more than 100 full-color images, this book is an excellent resource for Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, Christian school classes, and personal research.

My Review:
The Illustrated Guide to Bible Customs & Curiosities is a Bible commentary that focuses on cultural background information. This information helps readers to better understand potentially puzzling Bible passages.

It's very easy to read and a quick read. It covered the whole Bible. Each entry gave the verse being talked about in the margin and a couple paragraphs of related background information next to it in the main text under a topic heading. There were a lot of full-color photographs that helped the reader better understand the information in the text (as in, useful illustrations rather than simply "pretty pictures").

There were several times that I would have liked to know where the author got his information since I've read conflicting information elsewhere, but no source information was provided. Overall, I'd recommend this as a good resource for a beginner in the area of Bible background since it covered a lot of good, basic information.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bible Overview by Rose Publishing

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Bible Overview
by Rose Publishing

ISBN-13: 9781596365698
PDF or Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Rose Publishing
Released: October 8, 2012

Source: Review ebook copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from
The Bible has 66 Books, more than 1,000 chapters, and was written by about 40 different authors. Bible Overview will help you get a grasp of each book quickly, with a 4 to 6 page explanation for each book. Includes full-color maps and time lines as well as:

  • Purpose: Author, setting, and date written
  • Outline of the book
  • Key themes, verses, and people
  • What it tells us about Jesus

My Review:
Bible Overview is a Bible reference book that gives a summary of each book of the Protestant Bible and also explains how it relates to the overall themes of the Bible--like how God interacts with mankind and mankind's need for a savior.

Overall, I found this book interesting, informative, and an easy enough read that tweens, teens, and adults could all get a lot out of it. This would make a great youth group or new believer Bible study on understanding the Bible as a whole. Rose Publishing permits making "up to 300 copies of individual pages from the book for classroom use."

Bible Overview starts with an introduction: how we got the Bible, reasons to study the Bible, and how to study the Bible. Next is an overview of the whole Old Testament. Later there's an overview of the whole New Testament, including some historical background information about the inter-testament period.

There's also an overview of each group of books (Pentateuch, historical books, poetry and wisdom books, prophetic books; gospels & acts, epistles & revelation). These explained why certain books were grouped together and also summarized the main themes, types of writing, and key people in that grouping.

Then, for each Biblical book, we told the book's purpose (a quick summary of the book and what we learn about God--and mankind--from the events in this book), where the book got its name, a chart or two summarizing important patterns or information, an outline of the major events and what chapters contain those events, who wrote the book and when (giving both traditional and "late dates"), where and when the events took place, the main themes, a few key verses, parallels and contrasts between how God related to mankind then and how God relates to Christians now, and the Jesus theme ("Christ fulfills this need").

Each chapter had a full-color timelime showing when events in that book took place and usually had a simple map showing the main locations and movements mentioned in that book. Some chapters had a list of the most significant people in that book. Full-color pictures were used as decorative chapter headings, and some other paintings and photos were sprinkled throughout the book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt from the publisher's website.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Renée of France by Simonetta Carr

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Renée of France
by Simonetta Carr

ISBN-13: 9780852349090
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Evangelical Press
Released: January 8, 2013

Source: Review copy provided by Cross Focused Reviews.

Book Description from Amazon:
Renée of France is little known today, but this fascinating and often controversial woman was a correspondent of Calvin. She loved the Reformation, but in sixteenth century Italy such a position could not be lightly held. Add in a husband (the Duke of Ferrara) who served the pope and was determined to oppose Renée, plus the complexity and intrigues of Italian society of the time, and you have all the ingredients for a gripping biography.

My Review:
Renée of France is a biography about a noblewoman, Renée of France (1510-1575). She was a princess of France who was married to a duke of Italy, and she lived during the Protestant Reformation. She wrote to and received letters from John Calvin about some of the questions of faith that she was dealing with.

Renée used her wealth and influence to provide a refuge to Protestants while she was in Italy and, after she returned to France, during the French Wars of Religion. Still, some Protestants were concerned that she didn't seem to hold strong in her faith. She would sometimes make compromises in order to keep her lands and her freedom to act. She dealt with issues like: Is it okay to believe in private rather than make a stand in public? How much influence should a patron have over the church that they protect? Should we hate someone who persecutes members of our faith?

The biography mostly covered Renée's adult life and discussed the theological issues that Renée struggled with related to the Reformation. The book contained many quotes from John Calvin's letters to Renée.

Due to the "bitesized biographies" series title, I assumed this book was targeted at teenagers, but it's written with a scholarly tone and targeted at adults. This book is one good way for someone who knows little about the Reformation to learn about some of the theological and political issues involved. It's also an interesting look at a noblewoman caught between several strong, opposing forces and how she dealt with it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Link to a podcast interview with the author.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pursued by Jud Wilhite

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by Jud Wilhite

ISBN-13: 9781455515462
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: FaithWords
Released: February 5, 2013

Source: Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Christian faith isn't blind obedience to a set of rules and regulations; it is entering into a relationship with a God who pursues us--not to punish, but to love.

As the leader of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, the self-proclaimed "Sin City, U.S.A.," Jud Wilhite has seen it all. And he knows that no matter how far someone has strayed from God, God always remains in passionate pursuit.

Studying the book of Hosea--about the prophet commanded by God to marry an unfaithful prostitute as a metaphor for God's unwavering love--Pursued compellingly illustrates God's plan for every person: to be freed to become his or her own unique self through intimate togetherness with the living, loving God.

My Review:
Pursued is a study of the biblical book of Hosea to uncover the truth of God's passionate pursuit of his people. The book was written in a conversational tone and is easy to follow. It included a look at Hosea, present day examples, and how this understanding of God should impact our lives.

The book is especially for those who think that God is pursuing them with the desire to punish them. However, I think anyone--new Christian to mature Christian--can benefit from this reminder of how passionate God is about building a loving relationship with us. I'd highly recommend this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.