Enter Into a Conversation with the Bard and the Bible!
August 29, 2016
The Bard and the Bible is a delightful devotional! Bob Hostetler has done a masterful job allowing the writings of Shakespeare to be in conversation with passages from the King James Bible. Toss in his humor and I kept thinking with each page, Wow, I wish he had taught me Shakespeare back in high school! His summaries make the passages come alive so any reader no matter how limited their knowledge of either will be able to understand and enjoy both.
Little morsels of historical and modern tidbits and trivia tease the taste buds. How fun to learn of hairstyles in the day of Shakespeare and how often dogs and cats appeared in his writings! I couldn't help but share these with my young children, knowing that someday when they are studying Shakespeare they may remember one of these random, fun facts. I also enjoyed learning how many modern words and phrases, like hurried and a dish fit for the gods, have their roots in Shakespearean plays.
My least favorite part of the devotional was the reflection question. The overall tone of these (there were exceptions) seemed to be try harder to be or do better. Often the question begins with, How can you make, do, practice, speak... For instance on March 16th, How can you live, work and play with greater energy? My personality bent plays right into reforming myself with doing and being better, and in my experience, it may bring greater behavior modification (and guilt), but little transformation of heart (which brings true freedom). However, I know this is a common approach in many Christian devotionals. I wondered if there might have been a different way of inviting the reader into the conversation with Shakespeare and KJ. In lieu of it, I entered into a kind of Lectio Divina with the reading for each day.
All in all, a very enjoyable devotional that I will certainly recommend to my Shakespeare-loving friends (and anyone looking for a unique way to converse with Scripture)!
I received a free copy in exchange for my honest and fair review.
It is obvious that Bob Hostetler has a passion for Shakespeare and even more so - the Bible. In this devotional book, he brings these two together in perfect harmony so that one can deepen their spiritual life.
As a Shakespeare illiterate, I always felt that I was missing out on one of the treasures in literature, but I just couldn't get into reading Shakespeare. It was too laborious for me. But in this book, I have learned more about Shakespeare than I ever knew before. The quotes that are used in the devotionals help me to understand Shakespeare and his wisdom. But even more than that, as Bob has married Shakespeare's writing and wisdom to the ultimate book of wisdom, the Bible, it has helped my understanding of both.
What a great idea for a devotional book. Who would have thought? Thanks to the creative mind of Bob Hostetler and his adept and innovative writing that connects with both the intellectual and the simple (like me), this conglomeration of great wisdom for life can be known to many. I hope many will use this book for their devotions for the upcoming year. I know that they will be blessed and enlightened as they read it.
I'm not one that enjoys the King James Bible or Shakespeare. This is for all the reasons Bob points out in the Introduction. They are written in a language that is not a way people speak anymore and is easily misunderstood. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy this devotional; it ties them together and dives into the meaning.
I usually only read books when I travel for work or for fun. This devotional is a quick, once a day read that gives you something to think about on the drive to work, over a morning coffee (or tea if you prefer), or where ever you could take 2 minutes to read a short, but thought provoking passage for the day.
While I've attempted many devotionals in the past, this is the first one that I've kept up with for more than a few days. The tie to Shakespeare along with the fun facts at the end of each day make it something to look forward to each day.
I wasn't sure what to think of The Bard and The Bible when hearing the title and the fact that the devotional which is based on Scripture was also a devotional sharing Shakespeare. I was pleasantly surprised. When reading through the devotional thoughts and how Bob Hostetler carries one thought through the Shakespearean quotes and life with the King James Bible I wanted to keep reading and learning. Though I have a hard time reading and understanding the King James version of the Bible (I enjoy the New International Version), I can see how both Shakespeare and those throughout Scripture (as well as God who inspired the Word) would share a language familiar to that day. This helps to join the two thoughts into a cohesive message for one's thoughts and soul. I was taken back to that time and place when the devotional thoughts/quotes were spoken. Not only was there a thought provoking question for the day to keep me stirring and thinking about the devotional, but it gave me a curiosity to read and learn more about Shakespeare and the depths of the Bible as it was translated so many years ago. It brought back many memories as a teenager when learning scripture from the King James Version and memorizing God's Word in that language. Even those who may not be familiar with Shakespeare's writings or the King James Version of the Bible will be able to understand, be challenged, and be strengthened in one's relationship with God through The Bard and The Bible. A pleasant read!
Bob Hostetlers new devotional, The Bard and the Bible, reads like the author is sitting across from you in a coffee shop each morning offering you a friendly jumpstart that is something like a pithy sermonette that includes a little history lesson, a self-check for mental health, surprising references to pop culture and art, as well as a thoughty question or two to uproot your complacency. And all in the context of Shakespeares plays and poetry. Not just for literary types (though they will enjoy the Shakespeare and references to other works) since Hostetler provides an easy-to-follow quick context for each work he references. And not just for Bible junkies since Hostetler provides simple quick context for those references too. Hostetler manages to keep his ultimately serious messages easy to take by offering witty parenthetical asides in second person, making sure you smile a little on your way to being confronted by probing subject matter. Though Hostetlers style is basically colloquial, his purpose is to teach the reader to take seriously the challenge of his January 9 entry, Deep Waters: It takes a wise person to discern such things (our motives, thoughts, and intentions) and bring them to light. His intent is to encourage us to cultivate the inner life each time we pick up the book. (It also takes a wise person to keep his vast knowledge of Shakespeare and Biblical theology slightly under wrap so those of us who havent read every play can grasp something important in a few paragraphs a day.)