Unique focus with excellent application questions and a dash of humor
August 9, 2016
Of Books and Boys
In The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, Hostetler provides small snippets of Shakespeare paired with verses from the Bible to create a daily dose of both the best playwright of all time and the most popular book of all time. The quotations are primarily arranged in the order the plays were written and the lines in the order of their appearance within the plays. Although each daily devotional is brief, the words present enough truth and trivia to lead to deeper contemplation. Moreover, one usually doesn't anticipate humor in a devotional format. Hostetler manages to bring many a smile with his little quips interspersed throughout the text.
I especially loved the closing question for each day. They often read like a writing prompt and opened up a whole realm to consider and weigh individually. For example, the question on October 30th was "What metaphors would describe your life?" I could easily see myself using this book to prompt a daily writing session in the morning to get the juices flowing for whatever writing needs to be tackled for the day. The questions were perfect for writers, but would also appeal to any individual wishing to take the devotional thought and apply the concepts to life.
Because I was offered a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, I tackled the devotional in a few separate doses instead of the daily readings it is set up to provide. I would not only happily devote an entire year to this process, but can easily see myself purchasing this book as a gift for some literary friend. It is sure to appeal to writers and eager literary students, to those in the mood for a chuckle, as well as those seeking serious contemplation, to readers with no knowledge of Shakespeare and to readers who have taken Shakespeare 101. The focus is unique. The passages are noteworthy. The concluding questions are thought-provoking. There is much to be gleaned in this volume. In the words of the playwright himself: "how far that little candle throws its beams!"
I had the privilege of receiving a free review copy of this book to read prior to its official release, so I have already had an opportunity to enjoy it. This is a really entertaining devotion book, even if you're not particularly a Shakespeare fan, but even more so if you happen to be a lover of "the Bard." The author has taken lines from works of Shakespeare and related them to verses in the Bible, using the Shakespearean quotes to add some new twists to how we look at those verses. Honestly, I had never thought about how closely many fairly recognizable lines from Shakespeare resemble scriptures. After having that brought to my attention through this book, though, it makes me look at Shakespeare in a different light, too, as I've never thought of him as a particularly religious man (although I also admit I've never known much about his personal life). The best thing about this book is that it is such a quick and easy daily read. The devotions are only a page long, a page for each day of the year, each being dated so that you can follow the book with the calendar, and each devotion ends with a thought-provoking comment or question to challenge the readers for that day. The devotions themselves take only a couple of moments to read (ideal if you might want to take the book to work and read a devotion during your break times), yet they leave you with food for thought that may make the readers continue to ponder their personal situations for the entire rest of the day. One of my favorites and one that made me reflect the most was the closing remark for the devotion on January 10th: "In what way--or toward whom--should you 'forebear to judge' now?" ("forebear to judge" being part of the Shakespeare quote for the day and relating to not being too quick to judge others in our lives or who may randomly cross our paths). Long story short, I really like this book. And this is coming from somebody who isn't a total Shakespeare geek. I really like the stuff of his that appeals to me (mostly some of his plays: Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Taming of the Shrew--or more accurately the Moonlighting rendition of Taming of the Shrew from the old Bruce Willis/Cybil Shepherd show, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, etc.), but the stuff that doesn't reach out and grab me in the first five minutes has never interested me much. "The Bard and the Bible" has piqued my curiosity and made me think not only about the daily scriptures and their applications to my life, but also that maybe I should give more Shakespeare a second look to see what else I've been missing.
Periodically an idea surfaces that seems naturally infused with genius. So obvious, yet hitherto unaddressed.
Bob Hostetlers recently released The Bard and The Bible reflects such a dynamic.
The early years of the 17th century are described as the golden age of English literature epitomized by the publication of Shakespeares unequalled works and the production of the elegant King James Bible.
By fusing the life-giving words scripture with the evocative language of Shakespeare in a daily devotional Bob Hostetler is giving us a rich resource for inspiration and illumination.
The overall structure follows the rhythms, seasons and national themes present in the calendar year in a familiar 365 one-page devotional style. The text is eminently, readable, yet so inherently rich and graceful.
The combination is, in the deepest sense of the word, inspiring.
At the conclusion of each page are additional historic and linguistic factoids that serve to supplement the age, life and language of Shakespeare.
So, thank you Bob Hostetler, this is surely destined to become a best-seller, used throughout the years, for many years, by many people.
Bob Hostetler has crafted another amazing and incredibly creative book. The beauty of this book being a devotional is the reader gets to enjoy a little gem of Shakespeare and the bible every day. The bible verses and corresponding excerpts from Shakespeare's works complement each other so well, one might think they were originally written by the same person. The book is also a history lesson on all things Shakespeare that will delight even the reader that might not love the bard as much as true fans.
I will be recommending this book to a lot of people, not to mention it makes a unique church confirmation or graduation gift!
I've never thought about marrying Shakespeare with devotional thoughts for the day. Leave it to Bob Hostetler to not only come up with the idea but to do it in such an interesting way. I enjoyed the interaction between the different Shakespearean plays and passages from the Bible, along with a thought or two to carry me through the day. Since I'm not a huge student of Shakespeare I especially appreciate the way Bob wove the background of each play into the daily reading. If you are looking for a devotional book that is different from the usual fare and enjoyable to read I highly recommend The Bard and the Bible.