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Reformed Literature
A Presbyterian Internet Journal

Understanding the Bible

John Stott

Published by Zondervan

About 500 years ago with the Reformation getting to full steam we saw a huge interest in Bible translation. Tyndale was busy translating with the deliberate aim to give the plough boy a copy of the word that they could understand. It seems fitting therefore, to pick a few books that are designed to help you understand the Bible itself. The title of this book seems a good place to start, however, I do not find myself able to recommend the book unreservedly.

John Stott is an Anglican Clergyman and a noted figure in the World Wide Evangelical movement, while his book is well written and a good read there are issues like an acceptance of the 'Roman Church' as a Church and an argument for copies of a book of Jesus sayings denoted by letters that were used by the gospel writers which creep into some of his explanations.

Having stated these reservations, I worry that now I will have put you off the book - this would be a mistake. It is important to be able to read the Bible and understand the narrative that presents itself. The Bible does provide a story that you are forced to either agree or disagree with and this is one of the notable differences between the Bible and other texts like the Koran.

Stott starts with the purpose of the Bible and the importance of Salvation. He moves on to a set of basic lessons in Biblical geography which sets the Bible in its geo-physical context. He then explains the story of the Old Testament and the historical context of all those familiar stories. Another really positive part of the book is that each chapter ends with a set of recommendations for 5 or so other books that will help you learn more about that particular topic. He looks at the New Testament and the preaching of both Christ and the Apostles - drawing out some interesting lessons. It then moves to the message of the Bible and then the reasons behind its authority. Concluding with chapters about how we ought to interpret texts and use the Bible.

If this book gets you thinking about the Bible and its message and how that ought to be conveyed to others then it will have served a very useful purpose.