Book review: Let The Bible Be Itself

by Ray Vincent


O daughter of Babylon … blessed shall he be that taketh thy children and throweth them against the stones. –Psalm 137

In my book about Revelation, I suggest that this psalm may be both the most heartrending and the most disturbing passage in the Bible. Interesting that Vincent should choose it to highlight the question of how to read the Bible. What are we supposed to do with verses like this?

Vincent reminds us that much of the Bible is a cry of pain: “This psalm is in fact a very moving piece of dramatic poetry. If we were in the theater and heard someone cursing their enemy and calling on God for revenge in this kind of language, we would not ‘tut-tut’ or walk out in disgust! We would be caught up in the power of the drama, and go away saying what a good play it was. It is only the fact that the Bible has been set up as a theological and moral authority that makes this psalm a problem.”

Let the Bible be itself, Vincent suggests, and I really enjoyed his discussion. He describes briefly what to expect in the Bible, how it came to be, and the hazards of reading it as a divine instruction book. While it’s been a long time since I read the Bible as a fundamentalist, I do remember the awkwardness of trying to justify its errors, outdated morals, and claims of divinely sanctioned killing. Vincent has a knack for simple, understandable writing, bringing the Bible alive with both its warts and its beauty. Here’s an interesting observation: “If we believe God speaks through the bible, this must surely imply that God too is playful, experimental, changing and developing, even in some mysterious way self-contradictory and self-correcting—in other words, alive.”

Short book, but highly recommended.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>