In many ways, it doesn't get more basic than Making Sense of the Bible. Whitehead does a good enough job in giving readers essential background information; he covers all the basics.
In the introduction, he discusses why it's important for believers to read the Bible. He covers why it's important to have an understanding of the Bible, but, even more important to have a relationship with God--a relationship grounded in the truth of God's Revelation.
In the first chapter, he addresses a question that may authentically confuse some: WHY are there so many translations?! He covers the basics there as well. (Whole books have been written on translation philosophies and what translations are really "best." Whitehead offers a good introduction, but, it is by no means a thorough discussion of the subject.)
In the second chapter, he discusses "the heart of the reader." He discusses reading and studying the Bible. He writes,
"It's humbling to think that we don't judge the Bible, the Bible judges us. If we see the Bible in the way it speaks of itself--as the very Word of God--then our reaction to the Scriptures is more than just a reaction. It is a clue to the condition of our heart" (30).In the third chapter, he discusses writing styles in the Bible.
Whitehead's strength perhaps is his ability to summarize. This is revealed in chapters four through 12. In these chapters, Whitehead summarizes essentially all 66 books of the Bible--perhaps not with equal depth. These summaries come about through his discussions about genres: gospels, epistles, Old Testament narratives, poetry, and prophetic literature. He also summarizes the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus. It would be hard to understand many portions of the New Testament without a good idea of who Abraham, Moses, and David were. And this book will give readers what they need to grasp the big picture of the Bible. It is mostly summary work. Are his summaries the best summaries available on the books of the Bible? Probably not. I really LOVE, LOVE, LOVE How To Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens. And I loved Woodrow Kroll's Read Your Bible One Book At A Time.
I was personally annoyed by the author's dismissive attitude of Revelation. Revelation is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books of the Bible. It has SO MUCH to offer readers, and this author dismisses it as "not based upon real events" and warns readers that "they won't get much out of Revelation." It is a book about the future, yes, but that doesn't mean that it's not based upon real events just because those events are in the future instead of the past.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible