Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Deeper Into the Word: New Testament (Book Review)

Okay, I've had this review book for more than a few months.  After I started reading it, I was enjoying it so much that I placed it on my nightstand with my Bible.  Even as I was reading it, I forgot that it was a review book!  Let me give you the publisher's synopsis, then I'll tell you more:
Words matter. God cares about them and so should we. Going a little deeper into the Bible's words can make an old passage new again, enriching your understanding of God's message to his children. Why was this word chosen rather than that one? What does it imply in its original language that you can't see in English? And without knowing Greek, how can you learn to explore the details of God's Word for yourself?
Keri Wyatt Kent provides a fresh encounter with the most important words of the New Testament. Deeper Into the Word can be used as a daily devotional or as an easy-to-use reference tool. Either way, you'll find yourself excited by the wonders of God's amazing Word.
As a word geek, I like reading word studies like the ones in Deeper Into the Word.  To give you an example, I'll choose a word that has been often discussed:  love.  This particular section of the book covers a little more than two full pages.  The author writes about the overuse of the word "love" in our culture, the familiar explanation of the difference between Christian love and our society's definition of love, and three ancient Greek words that are translated as "love."  After she differentiates the definitions of eros (which does not appear in the New Testament), phileo, and agapeo (and its more familiar noun form, agape), she provides usage examples for each of these words.  Finally, she shares a short lesson on how shame and guilt and pride can "hinder our ability to love in the way God loves," and how we can move beyond that limitation.

The 100 entries of Deeper Into the Word could be read as short devotionals, or the book could be used as a reference.  I've read through much of it, but I've also picked it up when I was looking for clarification about a certain word.

I do want to share one concern, which arose when I read the section on the words break/broken.  In this section, the author writes about the Greek verb luo, which is translated as loosen, unbind, or release.  She explains that this word was used, in the ancient Jewish tradition, when rabbis would interpret the Torah:  "Each rabbi had his take on the commandments, and what he would forbid or permit."  She goes on to say that the Pharisees would criticize Jesus for breaking (luo) the rules of their tradition, "but Jesus was loosing in the sense of allowing, because he wanted people to focus on the heart of God rather than legalistic traditions."  I'm okay with her explanation to that point.  As she continues, she says that in Matthew 16:19 Jesus gives his disciples permission to loose and bind, then includes a quote from Rob Bell which says this:  "When he gave his disciples the authority to bind and loose, it was called 'giving the keys of the kingdom.' ... What he is doing here is significant.  He is giving his followers the authority to make new interpretations of the Bible."  [This excerpt, if you were interested, is from Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis:  Repainting the Christian Faith; 2005.]  My concern is that this opens the door to interpret the Bible to mean whatever we want it to mean, rather than what God intends it to mean.  I may be wrong and you may disagree; I'm sharing the information so you can draw your own conclusion.

Links for more information:
Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes.  I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions in this post are my own.  Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity!

4 comments :

  1. I think when we read books we have to always keep in mind that they are written by humans and it is always "just their opinion" no matter if it is a fact or fictional book. It is how they "see it" and I can glean the things that are relevant to me and put everything else on the shelf. :) I do not believe their is room for interpretation to the scriptures and I do believe we have to look at them as a "whole" and not just pick and choose a verse here and there.

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  2. Interesting review. I like how you give the publisher's viewpoint then reveal what the book says. Interesting viewpoint presented in the book, but - like you said - everyone can read it and determine what they think the author means. (BTW: I've noticed similar things in these types of books before... interesting. LOL... that's my word of the day.)

    I see we have similar issues with remembering that a book was for review. I'm trying to catch up on that now.

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  3. Just stopping by to say hello. You left a comment on my Cascade offer, I love Amazon now that I am using swagbucks. I hope you get your cascade. :)

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  4. I love etymology and have a habit of collecting books that deal with words...this sounds like an interesting book - thanks for pointing out the problems as well as its strengths.

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