Posted by: alisonwalley | 19 April 2009

Getting the big picture

Getting an overview of the whole Bible isn’t easy. Ok so you may have a small, slim, Bible, but that’s not to say you’ve got less to read! You’ve still got 66 books to wade through, however big or small your physical Bible actually is. That’s some reading, especially when you get into something like the beginning of 1 Chronicles with its endless seeming lists of names (that’s if you make it through Leviticus).

And then, how do you know what the really critical bits are? How do you try and pull the whole thing together?

Some years ago I copy-edited IVP’s New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. One of the things I had to do was check all the Bible references (well, you don’t want readers looking up a verses only to find that Hezekiah 6:31 doesn’t exist). The really fascinating thing was how the same Bible passages were referred to again and again – God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 and to David in 1 Samuel 7 being just two examples. The references are now stuck in my mind as I checked them so often.

A dictionary is a reference book not something to read through at one sitting. But many Bible scholars have written theological tomes which themes which they see as linking the Old Testament and New. On a more popular level there are books such as Vaughan Roberts’ God’s Big Picture, which takes the theme of the kingdom of God to show how different parts of the Bible fit together.

But if you want an even quicker overview, I want to suggest two less conventional ways.

liongraphicbible1The first is to get hold of a copy of the Lion Graphic Bible. When I say ‘graphic’ Bible I don’t mean simple cartoons or photos, I mean ‘graphic’ in the sense of X-men or Judge Dread (in fact the artist worked on the Judge Dread series). It is a fantastic book which really does do the whole Bible in graphic format – yes, even some of the psalms. It puts the whole thing in order, in context, and runs from before the beginning to the new creation, including Acts and synopses of Paul’s letters as well as Revelation. Interestingly, although I said it’s not simple cartoons, Jesus’ parables are in cartoon format to differentiate them from the main action.

bigpicbibleSecond, and if you want something really simple, try The Big Picture Story Bible. As you can see from the picture, it’s a children’s Bible. A lot of children’s Bibles are actually collections of Bible stories, but this one does as its title suggests and gives a coherent view of the whole Bible story and the reason for Jesus coming. Our grandson Simeon was given one at his dedication and it’s simple enough to read to a child under one but profound enough for parents to enjoy too.

But of course, don’t forget to keep reading your own Bible!

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