It seems as if a book about the Bible -- to say nothing of new translations of it -- get published about every three hours.
Some of them are enlightening and reflect the latest scholarship. Some are ideological, meaning that they take a particular and rigid stand on the nature of the Bible and refuse even to consider other possibilities. And some are simply ho-hum.
In the latter category is a new book by Richard E. Simmons III called Reliable Truth: The Validity of the Bible in an Age of Skepticism.
It is clearly a book in the Christian apologetics category. Apologetics is a field of study that seeks to explain and defend Christian doctrine.
So we quickly learn that Simmons is committed to the proposition that the Bible is the true word of God and his job in this book is to prove it in all possible ways.
I have no issue with that position. Although I am by no means a biblical literalist, Simmons' position essentially is my position.
But this book is repetitive and not especially well edited. The opening paragraph, for instance, contains two grammatical errors.
I'm not saying you can't learn useful things about the Bible here, but there are better options if you want a book to help you understand how the Bible came about and what it really is.
For instance, an old but still reliable book in this field is A Romp Through the Bible, by William R. Phllippe. Or there's an easy reference book called The Everything History of the Bible Book, by Jeffery Donley.
More limited in scope because it focuses only on the Hebrew Scriptures is the marvelous book by Douglas A. Knight and Amy-Jill Levine, The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us. That should be on your reading list no matter what.
Simmons, by the way, is not an academic theologian or a professional religious scholar. Rather, he spent most of his career as an insurance executive and recently has founded and now is involved with a not-for-profit organization that has to do with leadership.
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THE POPE-ULAR FRANCIS
American Catholics seem to have fallen in love with Pope Francis, a new survey shows. Only four percent have a negative view of him. Is that the same four percent who think well of Congress?
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P.S.: From 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, I'll be teaching a Communiversity class on essay writing in the Witherspoon room of Second Presbyterian Church, 318 E. 55th St. To sign up, click here for the Communiversity online catalog and scroll down to page 14. Or for a direct link to register, click here. But do it today. The class size is limited.