Page enlivens an age-old topic with clarity, freshness, wisdom, humour, sight of the big picture – and a cheeky glint in his eye.
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
I wish Nick Page taught me history at school. The self-described “unlicensed historian, applied ranter and general information-monger” is like a mate who nudges you in the ribs and asks mischievously, “Hey, did you know...?”
In a tongue-in-cheek one-man mission to ban bible study, he argues that we find the bible difficult because we have been misinformed about both what it is and how to read it. It is badly-behaved because it will not fit neatly into our expectations (and more literally, because Page has a section on its rude bits).
“The Bible is not a vending machine,” writes Page, where we “put a coin in, twist the handle and pick up our candy bar of choice.”
Listing a parade of biblical contradictions and anachronisms, like a novelist, Page leaves you hungry for plot resolution or explanation. It’s an absorbing way to present the editing together of the Old Testament – even though it verges on iconoclastic and may give literalists palpitations.
He faces head-on problems like Old Testament genocide and suggests that the Bible wants us to question it when it puzzles us.
Asking what inspiration actually means, Page proposes that the bible is a human-made book that God chooses to work through, and that it is the unfolding story of how we understand God.
As usual, Page’s wit and wisdom pepper the pages with a procession of asides, trivia and the sort of one-liners that once made The Simpsons great.
At its heart, this work asks us to see that the bible tells an unfolding story and wants us to be caught up in that story, so that we meet God in it and live differently.
I can’t help but think that if this ruthlessly honest and clearly-written work were required reading for all Christians, we’d see far fewer slanging matches, using bible verses as ammunition.