Archive for June 28th, 2010

Book review: The Story by Zondervan

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The Story is not, as I initially thought, a novelization of the Bible (which would have been neat, though how you could actually write such a book is beyond me.) Rather, it is the Bible, but abridged and reorganized in chronological order to present a (mostly) continuous story. It’s a great idea, even if I found the execution to be wanting.

By far, the best part about The Story is being able to read the Old Testament in chronological order. The individual stories one grows up hearing in Sunday School are often hard to relate to one another, and the disjointed nature of the OT makes piecing together an actual timeline of events difficult. The Story does that for you. Thus, you can read about the history of the kingdom of Israel as one continuous narrative, and really get a sense of the sequence of historical events.

The New Testament works in the same fashion, merging the four Gospels into a single narrative, and continuing through the book of Acts and various letters. I honestly found the New Testament to be less interesting than the Old, mostly because, like much of this book’s target audience, I’m much more familiar with the NT events. But aside from that, there’s nowhere near as much actual story in the NT, which covers only a few decades compared to the OT’s thousands of years.

Most of the problems I had with The Story are editorial. Often the choices of what to cut seemed odd: for example, the prophetic dreams from the stories of Joesph and Daniel are omitted, and only referred to. And speaking of Joesph, the chapter featuring his story was mostly concerned with what happened after he was reuinted with his brothers (usually seen as the end of the story); previous events were summed up on just a few short pages. Another thing that The Story did was insert transitional text, either to tie one story to the next, or to summarize material that had been skipped over for one reason or another. This transitional text was clearly marked (so as not to be confused with actual scripture) but was written in an awkwardly informal and occasionally preachy tone that irritated me more often than not.

That said, I’m glad I read it, and would actually recommend it to someone interested in reading the Bible story. It’s certainly not a substitute for a real Bible, but it is a useful tool toward understanding one. [2.5 out of 5 stars]