[ENDORSEMENT] Bible Intro by @ChrisJuby

bibleintro_cover_120Pleased to have endorsed Chris Juby’s book: a “user-friendly Bible overview, written as an introduction for those new to Scripture and as a useful reference for experienced readers.”

“You’ve never been able to get a solid overview of the Bible so quickly. Juby clearly draws on a deep and passionate knowledge of the material, and clearly hopes to encourage us both back to the original text, and to transformational living.”

Dr Bex Lewis, Director of The BIGBible Project and author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’

Watch Chris introduce the book here:


Godslot Series for @UCBMedia

The following 7 1 minute ‘Godslots’ will be played for at least 6 weeks on UCB Media from 4th August:

Digital Life(style) Speaker

[SPEAKER] Don't be a Bible Bot – at #RevConf13

This afternoon’s session

Don't be a Bible bot from Bex Lewis

KJB: The Book That Changed the World by @1aproductions #BigBible (@drbexl)

amazing-tale-of-the-birth-of-the-king-james-bibleStarring John Rhys-Davies of Lord of the Rings fame, the 90 minute film KJB: The Book That Changed The World provides the historical context for the development of the King James Bible. The film is directed by Norman Stone, known for works such as the award-winning Shadowlands, and most recently The Narnia Code with Michael Ward.

Interspersing documentary style context, academic interviews, big movie music, strong production values, filmed on location, and mini-dramas we are drawn into the stories of those who influenced the creation of the King James Bible. The film starts with a dying Queen Elizabeth, a Queen who has earnt her place in power, but whose death heralds change, change feared by many. Out of three possible claimants to the throne, two are women. James VI of Scotland’s mother, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth knew each other well, but had never met. (Only in the modern day have we put so much emphasis on face-to-face meetings!). At a time when religion was seen as worth both living and dying for, James had effectively been brought up as a prisoner with George Buchanan as tutor (a Calvinist who believed that King’s were the servant of God) giving him a strongly Biblical education. Having witnessed many power struggles, James developed a strong desire for unity.

It’s not until 30-40 minutes into the film that the story of the development of the KJB starts to be made explicit. In lessons with Buchanan, James said “no King can interpret God’s words for any other man”.James believed that that if thinking men (of all levels) understood the Bible, they would understand what to do with that knowledge. With a strong belief in the importance of scholarship, at the age of 18 he took control of the Scottish kingdom, depicted in this film as gaining popularity with his romance and wedding to Anne of Denmark (aged 14). With fractious Clans, and few luxuries for the Scots, James looked in envy at England, and ensured that he kept in contact with Elizabeth.

The seed of the idea for the King James Bible appeared to have been sown at Burnt Island Church in 1601, when James attended one of the annual Kirk meetings. There were calls for a new translation of the Bible, and James, with his desire for unity, wanted to find a single, mutually acceptable version of the Bible. This got lost in a committee, but as James took power in England, the various factions, including the Church of England and the Puritans, looked to the new monarch, James, with high hopes. Each faction championed its own Bible: the Church of England has the Bishops Bible, described as a ‘lazy’ work, full of poor translation; the Puritans had the Geneva Bible, whose notes were often written by anti-monarchists. James, an excellent debater, is depicted winning arguments with both camps, with the Church of England accused of corruption and ineptitude, and the Puritans overly concerned with unimportant minutiae.  55 minutes into the film, James calls for a new Bible, a project of scholarship and clarity, to be the finest translation ever produced, produced ‘by committee’, with scholars from across the religious traditions to ensure a balanced translation, and with his personal supervision of the work.

The film takes us to a number of places of importance to the story, including original translation work kept at Lambeth Palace (although not much has survived), Merton College Oxford, The Bodleian Library, where James liked to study, and into the type of church where the translation was intended to be read aloud, with dignity and gravitas. We see the development and impact of the Guy Fawkes plot, the printing process in action – the time consuming nature of this would have added to the value of the printed book.

The King James Bible was developed by 50 scholars over seven years, and the final 20 minutes of the film demonstrates how the suspicion and distrust of each other was broken down, as the translators sought to find common ground, sharing knowledge, research and scholarship to produce an accurate translation. James didn’t see the final translation until it was printed, when he was ‘profoundly moved’.

The film is more a biography of James, than the story of the KJB, but gives us great insight into the context of the Bible, it’s translation, production, and the man who drove it. After the Bible was produced, James’ standing went into decline, as his version of the Bible didn’t sell – until 50 years later. James was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1625, but the film identifies the KJB as his real ‘monument’ to society, as it drastically changed western culture. Well paid, and decently paced, if you love a good biography, and some historical context, you’ll love it.

This review was first posted on The Big Bible Project.

Life(style) Reviewer

Whole Life: Whole Bible @Ant_Billington @LICCLtd [Review]

Survey after survey in recent years – carried out with people in churches, leaders and non-leaders, as well as non-church people – has confirmed that there is an increasing lack of biblical literacy in the church, not only in society more generally. The surveys reveal that the vast majority of people in churches feel positive about the Bible and consider it to be a revelation from God, but fewer and fewer, it seems (even church leaders), are reading it for themselves. And when we do manage to read it, the surveys suggest, we’re not always sure what to do with it. (pp25-26)

whole-life-whole-bibleThe London Institute of Christianity (LICC), set up by John Stott, seeks to encourage all Christians to be whole-life, whole-Bible disciples, breaking down the sacred-secular divide. This book, emerging from LICC’s weekly ‘Word for the Week’ emails, which have reached up to 10,000 people a week since 2001, encourages us to look at the whole Bible to get the bigger picture, the overarching narrative, rather than cherrypicking. We need the Bible to touch and transform our whole lives, affecting the world in which we live. Many seek quick answers to difficult issues, such as suffering, gender, etc. But those questions are better addressed, and more securely answered, when we have a larger framework in place

Having attended the transformative LICC Toolbox course, and having taken three years to read the Bible cover to cover, it’s helpful to have a quicker overview. I was reading this section on a plane to Berlin as the map showed that we were flying over Bremen. Many history lessons means that bombing has shaped my thinking about that as a destination. As the plane came in to land over Berlin, I got an overview of the places that I was going to visit up close shortly, and this helped created my ‘mental map of the destination’, before I became absorbed in ‘living’ there.  This book is designed to offer a mental map to the whole story of the Bible. How do we then ensure that we are partakers, and not spectators?

This book is designed for those who are already engaged in Bible reading, rather than those who have never picked up a Bible before, and encourages readers to continue afterwards to read other texts, hold up the author’s interpretation up to challenge, and recognises that each individual will read something different into ‘the story’.  Reading alone is “vital” but as they say:

Reading with others helps to prevent privatized readings of the Bible and corrects some of the biases that we may bring to certain passages or topics. (p19)

As someone who is a bit of a butterfly brain, the book works for me, and it’s designed to be read by all personality types – whether you like to study the maps before you jump in, or like to jump in at the deep end – the book works. It’s not about a tick box exercise, but about allowing the Word of God to “reorder your existence”, so take your time reading the book.

As a Media Studies Lecturer I’m always encouraging my students to understand that newspapers, films, etc. give us a lens through which we see the world, rather than objective fact. The Bible can give us a different worldview – through which we see God, the world and ourselves more clearly.  As the Bible gets inside us, our thinking is transformed, and we begin to see things the way God sees them.  Often we are encouraged to think that we must always read huge sections (I really struggled with the pressure to read the Bible in a year), but this book offers a series or short (and some longer) readings with which we can engage at our own pace: like a toffee that can be swallowed whole, or chewed over in a leisurely fashion.

The book is written three well-respected theologians with long term engagement with the LICC: Antony Billington, Margaret Killingray and Helen Parry, with a guest post by Mark Coffey, who I knew in my Manchester days. It outlines the shape of the Bible in six words: Creation, Corruption, Covenant, Christ, Church, Consummation. They encourage us to consider where you read the Bible, that reading it in public spaces ‘normalises’ the Bible – allowing you to make connections with how it works in the everyday, not just with us, but with the people around us. They don’t specifically mention digital spaces, but I like to think that those are included!

I read the book fairly fast, but would like to go back through, as suggested, and read a piece a week. The exercises offered in the text are a mix of further Bible readings, and practical thinking/applications. As you’d expect, the thoughts and reflections engage us in the everyday (western) world in which we live.Try it – it could transform your life!

First published on The Big Bible Project