Once in while I receive requests from authors asking me to review their books on my blog. Generally, these people are authors who are seeking an audience for their books. Since my blog has a large audience both nationally and internationally, some authors believe that a review by me can expose their book to a large audience.
Recently, I received an email from Val Greenwood, asking me if I would be interested in reviewing his book. The following is an excerpt from his email:
Dear Dr. Mariottini,
I hope you will forgive me for contacting you this way, but I admire the work you do at the Northern Baptist Seminary and have also appreciated your informative blog.
The reason for this contact is to invite you to review my forthcoming book of Old Testament stories on your blog (though I know that it is extremely rare for you to do such reviews).
My book, entitled I Will Make of Thee a Great Nation, will be released on Feb. 2, 2009. The publisher is American Book Publishing (under the imprint “American University & Colleges Press”). Perhaps you have already heard of this unique book.
The book is a collection of more than 200 Old Testament stories written for Christian adults and young adults in modern English. It is not a scholarly tome and does not pretend to be so. Rather, it is an easy to read book that is intended to help the typical Christian understand and appreciate the Old Testament. You will find it to be simple but not simplistic. A review on the Christian Book Reviews website gives it 5 stars as an essential tool for those involved in religious education.
My son read one of the stories on the publisher’s web page and encouraged me to review the book. After I received the review copy, I read several of the stories in preparation to review the book.
Before I publish my review of the book, I have decided to give you, the reader, an opportunity to read excerpts from the book so that you can make your own judgment. Below are two excerpts, taken from story # 2 and story # 6. Read these two excerpts, evaluate what you read, and then come back tomorrow and read my review of the book.
What follows are the two excerpts from the book:
2-THE SERPANT (sic) DECEIVED ME
After God created the first man, he gave him the breath of life and named him Adam. Then God planted a beautiful garden in a place called Eden and put Adam in the garden to tend and cultivate it.
God, understanding that it was not good for man to be alone, took a rib from Adam’s side and created from it a woman to be Adam’s wife and his help. The woman was essential to God’s plan because his full purposes for his children could never be accomplished by man alone. Adam called the woman Eve because she was the mother of all living, and Adam and Eve lived together in the Garden. Adam understood that man was not complete without woman and that Eve, as his wife, was part of him. Said he, “I now know that she is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man, and the two of us together shall be one flesh. And for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.”
The garden was filled with trees, and the trees bore much fruit. Among those many trees were two of special significance-the tree of life and, standing in the middle of the garden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam and Eve that they could eat the fruit of every tree, except that which came from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “You are free to choose for yourself,” God said to them, “but remember that I forbid it. And you will surely die in the day you eat the fruit of that tree.”
Adam and Eve enjoyed their lives in the garden and were kept busy caring for it. They were also busy naming the animals, for God had told Adam that whatever he called an animal, that would be its name.
6-IN YOU AND IN YOUR SEED
About 200 years after the Tower of Babel,” a young man named Abram-a descendant of Shem-lived with his family in a place called Ur, among a people known as Chaldeans.” Included in Abram’s family were his father Terah, his brothers Nahor and Haran, and his wife Sarai.
The Egyptians had great influence among the Chaldeans, and many of the people, including Abram’s father and most of his family, worshipped the false Egyptian gods. Abram, however, because of his righteousness, did not turn to idolatry. Rather, he sought to have the blessings of God in his life
A great famine swept the land of Chaldea and Abram’s family suffered greatly. As the famine reached its peak, Terah left Ur, taking with him Abram, Sarai, and Haran’s son Lot. They traveled to a place that they named Haran after Abram’s late brother who had died at Ur. They settled for several years in Haran, and it was there that Terah eventually died at the age of 205 years.
After Terah’s death, when Abram was 75 years old, Jehovah appeared to him in answer to his prayers and told him to take Lot and go to the land of Canaan. He also made great promises to Abram, what we call the Abrahamic covenant. “You will be a minister to bear God’s name in a strange land,” Jehovah declared, “and I will give this land to you and your seed forever if they will obey my voice. Indeed, I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. I will make you a great nation, and in you and in your seed shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Abram left Haran as Jehovah commanded him, taking his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, the people they had converted in Haran, and all the substance that they had gained there. Journeying southward toward the land of Canaan, they dwelt in tents along the way. But travel was difficult because there was a famine in the land.
When the travelers arrived at a place called Jershon, Abram built an altar and prayed to Jehovah that the famine would be turned away from his father’s house so that they would not perish. When they reached Shechem, Abram felt uneasy because the land was filled with Canaanites and he did not know what to expect from them. When he prayed for guidance, his prayer was answered by a visit from Jehovah, who told him, “Behold, Abram I will give this land to your seed.” And Abram built an altar at Shechem to Jehovah.
As Abram and Lot moved slowly through the land; they worshipped God and built many altars. One of these was on a mountain east of Beth-el, a place to which Abram and Lot would later return when the famine was past. But, for fear of perishing from starvation, they determined to go into Egypt, where they lived for many years. As Abram prepared to enter Egypt, he spoke to Sarai: “You are a woman very fair to look upon,” he told her. “When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘She is his wife,’ and they will then kill me and save you. However, if you tell them you are my sister, we shall both live.”
When the Egyptian princes saw Sarai, believing her to be Abram’s sister, they spared both of their lives and took Sarai into the Pharaoh’s house. Abram, at the same time, was given great honors by Pharaoh.
The Pharaoh was pleased with Sarai because of her beauty, and he pleaded with Abram because of her–offering many gifts if Abram would give Sarai to him for a wife. But, though Abram declined, Jehovah brought great plagues upon the Pharaoh and his house because of Sarai.
The Pharaoh became very angry when he finally learned that Sarai was Abram’s wife. “Look at the trouble you have caused me,” he said to Abram, accusing him. “Why did you tell me she is your sister and not your wife? Do you not know that I might have taken her as my wife? You must take her now and leave my country.”
Read my review and evaluation tomorrow (click here).
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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