Monday, April 2, 2012

Finding the Lost Images of God by Timothy S. Laniak

book cover

Finding the Lost Images of God
by Timothy S. Laniak

ISBN-13: 9780310324744
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: March 2012

Source: eGalley from publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from
The theme of God's relationship with his chosen people is expressed and explained in numerous ancient word pictures throughout the pages of Scripture. Without an accurate grasp of the historical and social contexts that originally housed these images, however, modern eyes and ears can gloss over these profound biblical revelations and fail to hear their timeless teaching.

Even worse, readers can wrongly understand what such images communicate about God and about the people of God, misusing the Bible by imposing modern assumptions upon it. Timothy S. Laniak provides the necessary background for accurately understanding the Bible's images of God and of his people, tracing seven image pairs from Genesis and Exodus through their climax in Revelation.

This complementary approach reveals a rich and multifaceted relationship between God and the people he loves and calls into his service. Finding the Lost Images of God draws on archaeology, ancient texts, anthropology and personal narratives to bring deeper understanding of the Bible's imagery to students, pastors, lay leaders and other Bible teachers.

My Review:
Finding the Lost Images of God is a brief survey of the Bible looking for passages where certain imagery is used to describe God. The book is a quick, easy read. It's full of very nice color pictures of models, artifacts, and paintings to illustrate what the author was referring to. However, the text failed to deliver many insights into the Bible, and most of those seemed obvious to me from studying the Bible itself or otherwise seemed pretty basic.

Part of the problem was that the author often stated things without pulling everything together for the reader--especially in chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 3. I was often left thinking, "Okay, I guess that's interesting. what? This hasn't deepened my understanding of God or corrected any misunderstanding I had." I also didn't always agree with the author's statements since a few of his ideas were highly speculative.

Throughout the book, the author also tended to state "the ancients viewed this thing this way" without explaining how he came to that conclusion. When he did refer to a specific ancient text, the correlation between the Bible and the ancient texts often seemed so loose (based on the vague information he gave) that I'm not sure how he could so strongly state his conclusions.

Basically, I feel that other cultural Bible background books (including those in this series) are better written and give more insight into the Bible and about God than this one due to more focus on the actual cultural background information and ability to clearly explain their points. This book came across to me more as a quick survey of where this imagery is used in the Bible rather than a Bible cultural background book.

Chapter One was about God as an architect. It explained some architectural terms and compared different passages that contained architectural terms.

Chapter Two was about God as a potter. It described some about the potter's trade and compared the different passages that contained potter terms. It also discussed the trade of idol making.

Chapter Three was about God as a gardener. It described a bit about the unpredictability of a good harvest, terraced farming, and grape vines, and it pointed out places where garden and agricultural themes are mentioned in the Bible.

Chapter Four was about God as king. It had some very nice insights based on cultural background information.

Chapter Five was about God as a warrior. It pointed out several passages in the Bible where God fought for Israel and the author described why he thought God required his people to do certain things. He also made some interesting observations about some subtle military imagery in the gospels and pointed out military imagery in the rest of the New Testament.

Chapter Six was about God as a shepherd. It described some aspects of a shepherd's job that are referred to in the Bible and pointed out verses that refer to God as a shepherd.

Chapter Seven was about God as a father. It described cultural background details about the father, firstborn son, and brother imagery in the Bible.

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.

No comments: