The Good Book by Deron Spoo
An introduction to the Bible for those who know little about it; good for post-Alpha
The Good Book - 40 Chapters That Reveal the Bible's Biggest Ideas
By Deron Spoo
David C. Cook
Reviewed by Pieter J. Lalleman
This book provides an introduction to the Bible for those who know little about it and is almost evangelistic in its aims.
Spoo, a very American pastor, has selected 40 chapters from the Bible, ordered them in eight groups of five, and begins by printing each text in full in the translation of Holman's Christian Standard Bible. (This CSB is the latest addition to NRSV, NIV, NLT, ESB and all other translations – it is already popular with my students. It's rather literal.)
Then follow some four to six pages of comment which are rounded off by two questions or comments for further reflection.
The first chapter discussed is Genesis 1 (but minus 2:1-4 which also belong to the story) and the last 1 John 3, although Revelation 22 appears earlier in the book. Overall the selection of 40 chapters is quite balanced, with a fair share of Old Testament.
I have no trouble with what Spoo writes. He paints a realistic picture of life as a believer and the word adversity appears with remarkable frequency.
Yet he does not always write enough, for although entire chapters are printed, the comments often only cover part of the text. Thus all of Genesis 6 appears but verses 1-4 are not mentioned in the comment; likewise the comment on Psalm 139 skips verses 19-22. This means that the book can give rise to as many questions as it answers. And whereas all of John 1 is printed, only verses 1-18 are explained: two and a half pages of real comment, and two pages of stories.
This brings me to what, from my perspective, is another weakness: roughly half of the comment that Spoo offers consists of stories and illustrations which supposedly shed light on the biblical text. This American style means that less space is available for real interpretation, and that the examples often begin a life of their own in my mind.
But I should not sound too negative. If you have, for example, completed the Alpha course as a group and you are looking to stay together, The Good Book could serve as material for the next leg of your journey.
The Revd Dr Pieter J. Lalleman teaches Bible at Spurgeon's College