Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Review: "A Pocket Guide to the Bible"

"A Pocket Guide to the Bible" written by Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Scott Hahn, published by Our Sunday Visitor, 2008 is an insightful and compact (79 p.) work introducing the various facets that make up the Bible.

Apparently written with the layman in mind (not a single footnote or reference is found) Pocket Guide however delivers much for it's slim size. Hahn begins with a foundational discussion on how the Bible is to be conceptionalized, namely a book not for it's own sake but rather a book that is formed out of a particular historical community and for preperation in this particular community (the Church). The Bible is living in that it is part of a greater organic whole not to be viewed as a stand alone literary composition.

In easy to understand language Hahn explains the blueprint of the Bible, it's divisions, and compartments. A helpful discussion on the formation of the canon of Scripture is given along with an explanation of why Catholic and Protestant bible's differ. Hahn's Pocket Guide is already leaps and bounds ahead of other small popular introductions of the Bible in that it gives a cogent presentation of the Church's role in the correct interpretation of Scripture. Tradition has been safeguarded by the Holy Spirit for this task writes Hahn.

Professor Hahn then gives us a safe navigation through the often muddy channels of biblical hermeneutics (the process of reading and understanding the Bible in it's proper literary context). All the major genre's are covered (i.e., Poetic, Narrative, etc). He then discloses what I found to be a great tip for those looking for a guide or plan for reading the Bible throughout the year.

The concluding chapters gives us brief but helpful outlines of every book of the Bible and a fantastic topical index of the major themes and events in Scripture. In conclusion, Pocket Guide while being much too basic for the advanced student of the Bible is perfect as a compact hand-out to anyone that you find asking basic questions of the Bible and wants a tool that will help them go to the next level in understanding the Christian Bible and where it comes from.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company, - to find more information on A Pocket Guide to the Bible, -


Kim said...

I saw this post in Bloglines last night and went over to check the book out. I think this would be a good homeschooling tool for understanding the Bible. Thanks for the heads up, Rick!

Tim A. Troutman said...

Hey my friend works there!

Rene'e said...

Another great Scott Hahn book is "A Father Who Keeps his Promises.

Its topic is God's covenant love in scripture.

Hahn is one of my favorites. I have a small library of his books.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Thanks for the reviews. I have loved many of Scott Hahn's works. I see what you are saying about footnotes though. Sometimes I wish he would do more documentation of his ideas. For instance, in The Lamb's Supper, he covers multiple ideas that the Church Fathers discussed in great detail. It would have been nice for it to have a more extensive bibliography.