The subtitle of this book indicates the audience that this book is written for - "Taking the Bible Seriously but not Literally". If you are a fundamentalist who reads the Bible literally, this book is not for you. (I should probably tread carefully here, since this is a major source of division amongst Christians, as I have experienced in my own life.)
The lens through which to read the Bible presented in this book is a metaphorical reading, which made perfect sense to me. After all, Jesus taught in parables, which are essentially metaphors. As the author states early in the book, "metaphors can be profoundly true, even through they are not literally true. Metaphor is poetry plus, not factuality minus. That is, metaphor is not less than fact, but more. Some things are best expressed in metaphorical language; others can be expressed only in metaphorical language."
I really appreciated the author's clarity of thought and language in this book. What disappointed me was that in trying to cover the whole Bible in 300 pages, some things were bound to get left behind (pun partially intended for anyone who gets it!). There is a whole chapter dedicated to the first 2 chapters of Genesis; and another chapter to Revelation. And yet the 4 gospels are crammed into one chapter; the prophets (another 21 books of the Bible) are given another chapter; and several books (e.g. Psalms, the non-Pauline epistles) are skipped over completely. I guess I have unrealistic expectations - if as much attention was given to the whole Bible as was given to the first 2 chapters of Genesis, the book would have been too long for all but the most dedicated readers! But still, I felt cheated.
But don't get me wrong - overall, I did like this book, and agreed with most of what was in it. There was particular attention paid to the themes of social justice that run through the Bible as a whole; and anyone who knows me (or is a regular reader of this blog) will know that social justice is something that I am passionate about. To quote the author in the epilogue of this book, "(t)he God of the Bible is full of compassion and passionate about justice."
I have always enjoyed reading the Prophets, and this book helped me realize why. It also made me long for prophets in our own time - people equally passionate for God and for social justice; and who are willing to break with convention to get their message across.
I figure that I'm on track with my required reading, with one book left to read before the next session at the end of March. I'm going to take another fiction break now, and get through some titles on my "for fun" TBR list. I've booked a week off work in February, and am planning a "stay-cation" with nothing but books, music, and the gym in my schedule!