cover image Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again

Rachel Held Evans. Thomas Nelson, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7180-2231-0

Evans (A Year of Biblical Womanhood) introduces readers to Biblical criticism in her gratifying work on approaching the Bible. Shaped by her staunch religious upbringing and eventual doubts about her faith, Evans finds a graceful balance between challenging fundamentalist readings of the Bible and opposing outright dismissal of biblical tales. She devotes chapters to important genres, including origin stories, deliverance tales, accounts of war, and narratives of prophetic resistance. Before each chapter, Evans creatively retells a biblical story in a way that models her call for readers to think freshly about the Bible. With a serious yet conversational tone, she explores the original context of Bible stories to enrich their power. For instance, she writes, the Babylonian exile and threatening loss of identity explain Israel’s creation stories, and the Roman empire’s domineering edicts make Paul’s letters a smart response to political pressures of the time. Her chapter on miracle stories—which argues that one should focus on how these stories can bring personal change, rather than on proving or disproving them—is particularly touching. This appealing and open book will provide readers of all theological persuasions a clear picture of how the tools of scholarship can be deployed to bolster the Bible’s impact and beauty. (June)