cover image Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study

Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study

Edward Simmons. Dorrance, $19 trade paper (294p) ISBN 978-1-4809-2709-4

Simmons, a continuing-education teacher at Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga., combines Bible study with historical perspective to challenge traditional views on the life of Jesus and the themes of the Old Testament. In 38 chapters that he calls conversations, Simmons offers his take on various topics that he examines in light of their historical context. His study can be controversial at times, especially for readers from more-conservative backgrounds, with chapters titled “Did Jesus Use a Bathroom?” “Why Jesus Wasn’t a Christian,” and “Can God be Trusted?” But the author believes that asking these sorts of questions and measuring them against the historical context will allow the reader to go deeper into a personal understanding of God and the Bible. Simmons argues that viewing Jesus through modern glasses results in different, more useful interpretations. When examining Jesus in the context of what people believed at the time, for example, Jesus becomes more human (with all the attendant temptations of humanity) and a man with a mission rather than a messiah. Although it is somewhat scattered, the book offers fresh perspectives on everything from passages about Daniel’s visions to modern worship. (BookLife)