Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wicked Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler

book cover
Wicked Women of the Bible
by Ann Spangler

ISBN-13: 9780310341680
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: September 22, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Booklook Bloggers.

Book Description from Goodreads:
In Wicked Women of the Bible Ann Spangler tells the stories of twenty wicked and wicked good women in greater detail. At the end of each story, Ann provides a brief section including additional historical and cultural background as well as a brief Bible study in order to enhance the book s appeal to both individuals and groups.

My Review:
The title of this book is misleading. It's a selection of 20 Bible stories that are as much about the men as the women. So Miriam's story was also about Moses and Aaron, Abigail's story focused mostly on Nabal and David, and so on. The author took about 5 pages to retell each Bible story. She switched between tenses, so she'd start off in present tense ("run"), have a few "am running" mixed in, then switch to past tense ("ran"). It found this distracting, and it felt poorly edited to me.

The author added fictional elements to "flesh out" the stories, but it was usually physical descriptions or comments like: Pharaoh made a "brainless attempt" to overtake the Israelites as they left Egypt. She also portrayed people in ways I don't agree with, like in Rahab's story: "Their husbands give her looks that tell her they are wondering what it would be like to caress her honey-gold skin" and this pleases Rahab. So we're left to believe God saved this apparently unrepentant woman simply because she had decided He was more powerful than her gods. And some details didn't need to be added, like David watched as Bathsheba "rubs a sponge across her body--caressing her face, her neck, and then her breasts."

Each story was followed by one page (or less) of information on "The Times" which told where the story is found in the Bible and about the larger historical context of the story. We're also given information on topics like harems, eunuchs, kinsmen redeemers, and such. The New Testament stories also included some cultural background information. She also included 4 or 5 questions about each story, like "What three to five words would you use to describe Abigail's character?"

I've enjoyed this author's books in the past, but I was very disappointed with this one. Frankly, you'd get as much out of reading the stories in a good study Bible. The author even referenced information from the Archaeological Study Bible, which I have and would recommend.

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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Psalm 119 Experience by John Kramp

book cover
The Psalm 119 Experience
by John Kramp

ISBN-13: 9780805466737
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: B&H Books
Released: October 15, 2014

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In this inspiring devotional, you'll find daily encouragement for the challenges you face in life. Through five devotionals for each of the twenty-two sections in Psalm 119, you'll gain fresh insights into how God's word both challenges and consoles.

You can download twenty-two songs that were written for each section (available on iTunes). These songs will help you to memorize this entire psalm by drawing on the power of words and music to lock God's truth in your mind and heart.

My Review:
The Psalm 119 Experience is a devotional that focused on Psalm 119. It's a devotional that deepens your relationship with and devotion to God. The psalm has 22 sections, so Kramp broke his devotional into 22 chapters. Each chapter had 5 days of devotional thoughts and ended with the "song version" of that section of verses which he wrote to help memorize the words.

Each daily entry began with a verse or two from the psalm. He then dug into the meanings and insights of verses. He brought in verses from other parts of the Bible that affirm the words or that expand upon them. You get daily doses of theologically-solid truth about God and life. People who regularly read through the Bible will be reminded of important truths, while those less familiar with the Bible will see how certain important themes repeat throughout the Bible.

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys devotionals. It only took a few minutes to read a daily entry. Then, hopefully, you'll think upon the points he brought up as you go throughout your day.

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.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Atheist Who Didn't Exist by Andy Bannister

book cover
The Atheist Who Didn't Exist
by Andy Bannister

ISBN-13: 9780857216106
Trade Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books
Released: July 27, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from
Blending humor with serious thought, The Atheist Who Didnt Exist will help readers to think a little deeper about the popular claims of atheism. Whether the reader is a Christian who desires to be able to start a conversation with secular friends or simply an agnostic dissatisfied with some of the arguments that pass for serious thought, Andy Bannister shows that when it comes to the most important questions of life, we need to move beyond simplistic sound bites.

My Review:
The Atheist Who Didn't Exist is a Christian apologetics book. The purpose is to point out the problems with 'bad argument' sound bits for atheism so that Christians and Atheists can carry on a more thoughtful dialogue. The author took an atheist claim and rephrased it in another context so that it was easier to see how the argument held up. He started each chapter with a silly story that illustrated the argument in the new context, then he explained why it isn't a good argument.

I think he did a good job of showing why the arguments don't work. However, I can't use his stories to make a similar argument since he personalized them. I'd have to think a while to figure out how to explain his argument to someone else (which may be a good thing).

The author's humor won't be for everyone. It's mainly teasing about things few Americans have any stake in (like English sports teams that don't do well). However, the author sometimes went beyond silly stories and teasing. He poked fun at Dawkins, for example, not just Dawkins' bad arguments. That bothered me. Christians are supposed to be known for their loving attitudes, and I doubt Dawkins is feeling the love.

There are references to drinking alcohol and a few uses of bad language, which will turn off some Christians. Overall, I liked the method the author used to illustrate the problems with certain atheist arguments. However, I'm doubtful that the author's brand of humor would help in explaining the point to an atheist who takes those arguments seriously.

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.