In my last blog, posted two days ago, “Why studying the Bible matters – a personal reflection”, I argued that it matters a lot since the Bible is the Word of God and to quote from it thrice:
The reason I got thinking along these lines was two days before that I attended the author’s book signing and picked up my own copy of “A Pathway into the Bible – Walking with God Then and Now”, a book written by an old friend, Stuart Kimber, an Anglican vicar in my home town of Southend and active in our community until he retired a few years ago. Since then he has, to quote from his website (see here) and his Facebook page (see here), been devoting much of his time to get people “trying to think Christianly … and walk with God“. This has recently culminated in the publication of his book (540 pages) which is full of good, solid stuff, all to do with studying the Bible and provide useful tools and assistance to do so.
As I pointed out in my earlier article, there are many fantastic aids to studying the Bible, including dictionaries, commentaries and umpteen Bible versions, with a lot these days accessible online, and what we have here is yet another aid. While reading the Bible, as is, is a worthy aim, getting the sound, scholarly help, e.g. for context and linguistics, can be a good thing. While one may ask why is more needed, I found what Stuart has produced touches a modern need (i.e. often ignorant, and not into reading learned treatises and unlikely to study a C.H.Spurgeon or Matthew Henry for example) who might appreciate the readable approach adopted in this book aimed at guiding anyone wanting to find out what the Bible teaches direct and getting them to think about and apply its main teachings.
Despite having a long way to go, I have already delved into several sections of Stuart’s book and have been mightily impressed with what I have found. A little prior to it being published, he gave me the draft text on Ezekiel, a book that many Christians avoid and is deemed by many to be dull. But you don’t get that impression reading Stuart’s book, which brings it to life and provides a context. It helped a lot when it came to my leading a series of Bible studies on Ezekiel. Next up is Amos, and it is quite obvious having read that section in Stuart’s book his thoughts will help in my own studies. What has particularly impressed me is that this book tries (not always to my entire satisfaction but it is at least a start and a spur to find out more) to cover all of the Bible including the bits people avoid and invariably there is a freshness and relevance in what is presented. It is the sort of book I will gladly give to anyone who has a serious intent to study the Bible and walk with God.
What Stuart has embarked upon is a labour of love with the intent that his readership truly wants or can be encouraged to study the Bible and I have little doubt it is the culmination of a monumental effort. It is not perfect though. I would not use the NIV. Some sections are lightweight, e.g. on the Tabernacle. It could do more to apply Old Testament stories to New Testament lessons and be more committal when it comes to getting meaning from unfulfilled prophecy. And the Song of Solomon is about a lot more than sex and marriage. But all this can be forgiven, for it is a wonder to me how much “good stuff” has been packed into its 540 pages. It deserves to be read widely. I have seen talk of making this available in second and third world countries, especially where there is a thirst for understanding the Word of God and can be used to equip those who can teach it. There is talk too of placing copies of the book into prisons, and besides the Bible itself I can think of no better book.
I think the last words should go to Stuart himself and someone he quotes on the title page of his book, William Tyndale. Neither are to do with Stuart, and rightly so, but rather affirming the importance of the Bible and why it needs to be studied. While the writer of Ecclesiastes is correct, “A Pathway into the Bible” is a book that deserves to be read and will no doubt help those who want to understand and gain wisdom and truth and apply the teachings of the greatest book ever written, because it is the Word of God.