Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read & Live the Bible Well
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Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read & Live the Bible Well

InterVarsity Press / 2016 / Paperback

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Does the Bible need to be saved?

Over the course of the centuries, Bible scholars and publishers have increasingly added "helps" - chapter divisions, verses, subheads, notes - to the Bible in an effort to make it easier to study and understand. In the process, however, these have led to sampling Scripture rather than reading deeply.

According to author Glenn R. Paauw, the text has become divorced from the Bible's literary and historical context, leading to misinterpretation and a "narrow, individualistic and escapist view of salvation." Rather than being a culture-shaping force, the Bible has become a database of quick and easy answers to life's troubling questions. But these deficiencies can be corrected by engaging in what the author calls "big readings."

In these pages Paauw introduces us to seven new (to us) understandings of the Bible as steps on the path to recovering one deeply engaged Bible. With each "new" Bible presented, deficiencies in how we currently interact with the Bible are explored, followed by recommendations for a new practice. The Bible's transformative power is recovered when we remove the chains Christians have applied to it over the centuries. The Bible does not need to be saved because of any defect in itself, but because we have distorted and misread it. Saving the Bible from Ourselves provides students of the Bible a new paradigm for reading and living the Bible well.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 230
Vendor: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0830851240
ISBN-13: 9780830851249

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Endorsements

Glenn Paauw has written a serious and compelling book on the Bible. The tone of his writing is puckish enough to keep us turning pages for more. After identifying our lazy readiness to reduce the Bible to convenient 'scripturettes,' Paauw guides us to a way to the adult work of serious engagement with the Bible. When the Bible is taken with such seriousness, it will indeed serve to refresh and revive the missional energy of the church. His argument is propelled by the deep conviction that gospel alternatives are on offer for the bold, alert and passionate who engage the biblical text beyond our narcoticized habits of reading.
-Walter Brueggemann,
Columbia Theological Seminary

Because the Bible remains foundational to all Christian life, it is a very good thing to be reminded regularly how it should be put to use. Glenn Paauw's clear, thoughtful and historically well-informed book explains ways of reading, marking and inwardly digesting Scripture that draw their wisdom from Scripture itself. The same wisdom provides welcome encouragement not only to learn from but to love the written Word of God.
-Mark Noll

Author Bio

Glenn R. Paauw is vice president of global Bible engagement at Biblica and a senior fellow at the Institute for Bible Reading. His focus is to research, speak and write on the topic of reading and living the Bible well.

In his twenty-six years at Biblica Paauw's work has ranged from leading Scripture evangelism seminars at churches nationwide, finding innovative distribution channels to surprise biblically illiterate Americans with fresh presentations of the Bible, to overseeing the nonprofit publishing of the NIV, NVI and NIrV translations in North America. He led the development of the revolutionary The Books of the Bible format that uncovers the natural literary form of the Scriptures and re-introduces people to the grand narrative of the Bible.

Editorial Reviews

"As someone who has participated in creating a Bible translation and a study Bible, I found Paauw's arguments thought-provoking and convicting. . . . This is a great book for anyone who is interested in thinking deeply about our engagement with the Bible and how it could be improved."
"Those looking for a refreshing approach to Bible studies can find enriching insights in Saving the Bible from Ourselves."
"Well-written, thought-provoking, and bold."
"Glenn Paauw has written a serious and compelling book on the Bible. The tone of his writing is puckish enough to keep us turning pages for more. After identifying our lazy readiness to reduce the Bible to convenient 'scripturettes,' Paauw guides us to a way to the adult work of serious engagement with the Bible. When the Bible is taken with such seriousness, it will indeed serve to refresh and revive the missional energy of the church. His argument is propelled by the deep conviction that gospel alternatives are on offer for the bold, alert and passionate who engage the biblical text beyond our narcoticized habits of reading."

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  1. SnickerdoodleSarah
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Interesting argument
    July 16, 2016
    SnickerdoodleSarah
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 3
    Saving the Bible From Ourselves by Glenn R. Pauuw is a book about people's misuse of the Bible, how it has come to be used as a book that is a collection of isolated propositional statements that are written specifically for me and for my special encouragement. Overall this book is argument against those views of the Bible (it critiques other views as well) and I believe it is a rather good argument. I mainly listed those two things because they are the things that captivated me most in this book. Then I will give my critique.

    First, Pauuw does an excellent job at attacking the rather modern approach to the Bible that takes the form of hunting for individual verses that seem relevant to us, "find the fragments you need at the moment. If you are looking for your daily inspiration, then find a devotional fragment. If you are arguing with the local heretic, find a doctrinal fragment. If you are facing an ethical question, find a moral fragment. They're all in there, already neatly numbered for you. You just have to find the good ones." He makes a good case that part of what instigated this fragmentary approach was the addition of verse numbers and chapters to the text of the Bible.

    Second, and very much related to the first, is Pauuw's critique of our use of the Bible as though it were written directly to us personally (or at least the comforting parts and the parts that we like, the cursesnot so much). Pauuw demolishes the perspective that we can make ourselves the authority in discerning what we need from the Bible, and he demonstrates that we should trust the wisdom and sovereignty of God in His design of His own Word, and that means the WHOLE Word of God. To use the author's own words: "How can the Bible possibly lead and direct our lives if we are the ones who predetermine which parts of it speak to us? Fragmentary patters of reading entail a fragmented sense of authority." Perhaps my favorite part in the whole book is where Pauuw presents the "Parallel -Universe Bible" where he demonstrates what would happen if we used verses that we do not find so applicable to ourselves in the same way that we use our favorite verses, that are often taken out of context, to apply directly to ourselves (for instance: everyone likes Jeremiah 29:11 but what about Deut. 28:29?). I found that part absolutely hilarious (I was almost crying I was laughing so hard) but very clear in the point that is being made.

    So why did I only rate this book at 3 stars (out of 5)? Well, for one thing there were a bunch of statements and descriptions of things that were tooI don't know"mystical" might be the right term. Perhaps it was just me, but some of the way things were phrased seemed just plain weird to me (and I didn't necessarily understand it all). He talked about things like "Story" or "Chaos". Another thing was that Pauuw approached (in my opinion) irreverence in how he spoke of God, in statements like: "God was willing to take a great risk with the Bible: He left it in our hands" and, ""To enter history really is to give it a go in the rough-and tumble. Even for God." Those were just some of the things that bothered me about this book. There was a lot to be gleaned in it but was interspersed throughout the bothersome thing, and so ironically (having in mind Pauuw's excellent critique of the 'snacking Bible), if I ever read this book again I would read it in a 'snacking' sort of way. That is why I only gave it three stars. But on the other hand Paauw made a good (and convicting) case for reading the whole Bible rather than just fragments of it. I'll end with quoting an excerpt that I really liked (there were several that I liked):

    "Snacking (on isolated Bible fragments) hides things to be sure, but it also distorts the things it does show us. For example, ,the Snacking Bible is not great news. It has gospel verses, but no gospel, because the gospel is the announcement of a particular turn of events within an ongoing story. The gospel is not a sentence about justification by faith or a verse reference on the forgiveness of my sins. The gospel is not the Romans Road. The gospel is not John 3:16. What the apostles Paul and John wrote - what God's Spirit enkindled in them - was something entirely different than these boiled-down reductions. Evangelist D. L. Moody said he could write the gospel on a dime. Well, Paul and John couldn't, and didn't."

    Many thanks to the folks at Intervarsity Press for sending me a free review copy of this book to review (My review did not have to be favorable)
  2. John M Kight
    Michigan
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A book that should be received with open arms from anyone serious about their Christian faith.
    June 23, 2016
    John M Kight
    Michigan
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Glenn R. Paauw is vice president of Global Bible Engagement at Biblica and senior fellow at the Institute for Bible Reading. He has a deep-seated passion for engaging people in the Bible and allowing such engagement to penetrate everyday life. Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read and Live the Bible Well is the fruit of such passions and Paauws ambitious attempt to provide a refreshingly new paradigm for everyday Bible engagement.

    Saving the Bible from Ourselves introduces seven new perspectives on Bible reading that allow the reader to slowdown and engage the biblical text with intentionality. Paauws objective is to help readers rediscover a big reading of Scripture. As Paauw explains, My core argument is that for most of us, most of the time, small readings prevail over big readings . . . small readings [are] those diminished samplings of Scripture in which individuals take in fragmentary bits outside of the Bible's literary, historical, and dramatic contexts (p. 11). It is here that the Bible needs saving, according to Paauw. Not because of internal defect or shortcoming, but because small readings have buried it, boxed it in, wallpapered over it, neutered it, distorted it, isolated it, individualized it, minimized it, misread it, lied about it, debased it and oversold it (p. 16).

    As the book unfolds, Paauw carefully guides the reader towards a multifaceted problem which allows them to observe and implement a resolution that will last. The broader problem can be summarized as follows: (1) the contemporary Bible is far too cluttered and distracting for long periods of digestion; (2) such clutter results in the tendency to read less when our soul desires to read more; (3) such minimal Bible consumption results in a diminished historical and literary awareness, as well as oversight of the larger biblical narrative. It is here that Paauw calls for a Bible reading revolutiona revolution that removes itself from its dependency upon study aids and Bible clutter, and seeks to reengage itself with the bigger picture of the biblical narrative.

    Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read and Live the Bible Well by Glenn R. Paauw is the type of book that should be received with open arms from anyone serious about their Christian faith. It is a book that will challenge your current reading practices and reorient your heart towards a proper method of Bible engagement. I couldnt recommend it more!

    I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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