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How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens

March 6, 2012

I’m gonna shoot straight with ya right from the start – I’m a youth ministry guy.  Wait!  Don’t hit the back button just yet!  Just because I never mentally progressed past the tenth grade doesn’t mean I A) can’t read, and B) don’t have some thoughts to offer on Michael Williams’ new book How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens.

As a youth ministry guy, I struggle to find ways to help my students gain a deeper understanding of Scripture, especially its cultural and theological themes, without completely overwhelming them (or keeping them from falling asleep!).  My options are generally pretty limited when it comes to a concise overview of specific pieces of Scripture.  Most of what’s currently out there is either for children (picture Bibles) or deep theological discourse (most students see “N.T.” and think of the New Testament, not Mr. Wright).

Here Williams offers a fantastic solution for both students and laypeople alike, discussing each book of the Bible in brief, 3ish-page sections.  Each section includes pertinent thematic and cultural explanations of the book being discussed, and throws in very practical items, like memory verses, contemporary implications, and what he calls “Hook Questions,” essentially asking, “So what do we do about this?”

What makes this book unique, however, is the explicit explanation of every book as viewed through the “Jesus Lens.”  All aspects of the book – title, context, theme – are interpreted through the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Thus, every detail, regardless of its place in history (pre- or post-Jesus), is woven together as part of the ultimate redemptive story.

As a youth worker, I get a lot of questions about the book of Philemon.  I mean, it does seem rather peculiar.  Sandwiched between instruction for leaders (Titus) and a discussion of Jesus as the link for a new relationship with his people (Hebrews), we find a tiny letter to a slave owner, filled with quite a bit of sass and some confusing cultural comments.  Students ask me about this all the time.  In fact, I’ve always been a bit confused by it myself!  This is where Williams shines, describing the cultural implications of Paul’s words to Philemon.  Suddenly, with a little context, Paul’s words come alive, and the letter becomes relevant to today’s reader.  His “Hook Questions” transition the theoretical conversation into practical steps that challenge us to live out the lessons we just learned.

This is a great tool for anyone looking not just to take their basic understanding of Scripture to the next level, but apply it to their daily lives.  Go get it now!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2012 11:30 am

    Thanks for the info. Sounds like a great book and I just might check it out. It sounds like something a lot of us could benefit from having in our collection.

    • thebassoflife permalink*
      March 6, 2012 11:33 am

      Thanks! It’s a tool I’ve been hoping to see for a long time.

  2. Michael Wiliams permalink
    March 9, 2012 2:10 pm

    Thanks for the review! You’re right that I was trying to hit the HUGE space between kids’ books and academic tomes. You know, where MOST Christians reside. I’m delighted you find it useful.

    • thebassoflife permalink*
      March 9, 2012 2:23 pm

      Thank you, Michael! I studied Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth in my undergrad, and have offered it to many over my years in ministry. I’m pretty excited to see another resource released in that vein. Thank you for your work!


  1. The Jesus Lens Blog Tour – Round Three | Zondervan Academic Blog | Zondervan Academic

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