Hypothetical situation: I'm a publisher. I come to you with an idea. You're going to write a book about the Bible. You know that the Bible is the most read, most controversial, most complex text ever written. It spans centuries and genres. Oh yeah, and you're supposed to make this book accessible to a mass audience, so take out all of the fancy words. Oh yeah...make it funny. A short guidebook to the Bible that's easy to understand and funny. We'll call it the Pocket Guide to the Bible.
Sounds ludicrous! But that's exactly what Jason Boyett sets out to accomplish in Pocket Guide to the Bible: A Little Book About the Big Book. And, in most respects, he nails it, with a frankness and hilarity that many scholars could learn from.
If you're looking for a brief guide on biblical interpretation (aka: hermeneutics), keep looking. Boyett's not trying to dissect the difficult Hebrew and Greek syntax. But, if you're looking for a witty, lighthearted approach to a serious text (the Bible), then this book's for you.
Boyett pulls no punches in exposing some of the more ridiculous stories and texts in the Bible, yet at the same time tries to uphold it's authority and majesty. One part glossary (or, to use his term, `biblicabulary'), another part roll call of Biblical characters, and yet another part Biblical survey, and yet another part history of translations and versions, and finally, a concluding part humorous miscellany of quirky Biblical facts and observations, Boyett `guides' one through the Bible like no book on Scripture I've ever read.
At times I laughed out loud, and at other times I skimmed to the next chapter. That is to say, take this Pocket Guide for what it is: a Pocket Guide. It's not a page-turning thriller novel, nor is it a serious attempt at Biblical scholarship. It's simply one author's lighthearted attempt at viewing the Bible through the eyes of a humorist by looking at the Good Book from a number of different angles.
Overall, I'd say it's a very worthwhile read...Boyett's one-liners are alone worth the price of the book. Here are some zingers:
* When using the biblical term `flesh' in a sentence: "When Angelina Jolie showed up with her newly adopted AIDS orphan, my spirit empathized with her concern for the hurting children of the world, but my flesh kept staring at her bazongas." (p. 13)
* He even uses `IM' language: "LOL" (p.102)
* His reference to King Xerxes' parade of wives in the book of Esther: "a check-out-my-smokin'-wife show for visiting VIPs." (p. 103)
* "Bomp-chicka-bow-wow"...When referring to the book Song of Solomon.
* A word I know I've never seen in Christian publishing: "Apeshiznit" (109)
* When referring to the debate over circumcision in Galatians: "join the Snippy Brigade" (p.122)
* On Erasmus' real name, Gerrit: "Knowing this (his real name) exponentially increases his wedgie potential..." (p.144)
There's more where that came from...but you'll have to buy the book.