This book is unique. There are 60 short chapters that cover many topics. What makes the book stand out on the shelves is that the topics it covers are often those you won’t find many other places. His title suggests his point – we place too many filters on our Bible before we even open it to study. The subtitle “approaching Scripture on its own terms” is a call to fresh study with real attempts to remove those filters.
The 60 chapters are divided into three parts. Part one addresses the broad issues involved in interpreting the Bible responsibly. It’s in this section that he attempts to prove to you that you do, in fact, have unhelpful filters on your Bible. Parts two and three cover the Old and New Testaments respectively. These two sections are different than the first one in that they are not really looking at broad hermeneutical mistakes made in either Testament, but rather specific points where we drop the ball.
If I had a criticism of this book, it would spring from the same place where its celebrated uniqueness comes from. At times, it seems Mr. Heiser interprets on the edges. Too much time on the edges is dangerous for some Bible students because they lose the big picture. To get around this criticism, you must accept this book for what it is: a provocative attempt to force you to see if you are reading from the Scriptures rather than into them.
Several of the topics covered were fascinating. A few I simply could not agree with based on the scriptural evidence. A case in point would be chapter 12 where he claims that all our Genesis commentaries are eight-track tapes. I’m sorry, but what one scholar wrote about in 2010 does not instantly become the gold standard for all Christians, even on an obscure topic like the one in that chapter.
You have got to appreciate what this book is trying to do. We often neither search the Scriptures diligently enough nor think deeply enough. This book will push us to do better and that’s its value. Along the way, you will likely gain some new insights on scriptural subjects you have thought about in some time.
I received this book free from the publisher. 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.