This book is the last in a series aiming to instil confidence in the Bible as the inspired, infallible Word of God. This instalment addresses why we should read the Bible and how to read it profitably. It is divided into eight brief chapters, the first being a general introduction to our approach to Bible reading.
The author covers the importance of approaching Scripture with common sense, recognising the different kinds of literature used in the Bible: history, poetry, prophecy, etc. He also deals with the importance of context and word meanings. Helpful advice is given on this, but I am not sure that he is altogether practical when he advises, ‘We must be careful not to superimpose how we think a passage should be understood before grasping what the original writer intended and how the original readers would have read it’ (p.20), since any answer to those sorts of question can only, at best, be speculative.
The important thing is to know what the Holy Spirit meant when he inspired the writers; this can be gleaned by comparing Scripture with Scripture and deducing how the Holy Spirit interprets his own Word.
Chapter 3 covers the various forms of language used in Scripture, for example, metaphors, litotes and other figures of speech. Handling parables and apocalyptic language are addressed and helpful advice offered, especially on approaching Revelation.
Chapter 4 is a chronological outline of the Old Testament. Edwards advocates an early date for the Exodus. He does, however, omit to point out that the last four chapters of Judges fit chronologically near the beginning of the book (after the death of Joshua and his contemporary elders).
Chapters 5 and 6 cover the chronology of the Gospels and the epistles. Chapter 7 provides an excellent reading scheme to cover the Bible in 18 months. I am wary of setting time-scales for reading the Bible all the way through, as it can turn into a ‘numbers game’, the aim being to complete the scheme for its own sake. Navigating the Bible at the reader’s own pace is best.
The final chapter is a suggested outline for daily devotionals and contains some helpful suggestions. Overall, an excellent read for those at any stage in their Christian life.