The Illustrated Guide To The Authors Of The Bible (book review)

The Illustrated Guide To The Authors Of The BibleI have been a big fan of The Overview Bible Project ever since I discovered Jeffrey Kranz’s amazing Bible-based infographics and study tools. In The Illustrated Guide To The Authors Of The Bible Jeffrey and his wife Laura give us a helpful and beautiful way of learning more about the men whom God used to write His Word.

I recently had a chance to ask Jeffrey & Laura a few questions about this ebook.

Jeffrey, why do you think that it’s important for students of the Bible to learn about the biblical authors?

One of the most important things to know about any message is where it comes from. We know this from life. If you get a “happy anniversary” card from your spouse, it’s a loving gesture. If you get the same card from an ex … well, you get the picture. The whole message hinges on who sends it!

It’s that way with the Bible, too. If we’re going to understand what the authors of the Bible were trying to get across, we should spend a little time getting to know them: who they are, where they’re from, what they’ve been through, and even what time period they’re writing from.

So what was one of the most surprising discoveries you made while researching this book?

As I went into this project, I hadn’t expected so many of the authors to be from the tribe of Levi. But they are! About 42% of our Bible was written by Levites—45% if you count Matthew. No other tribe comes close.

I had expected a little more of a mix, but then I remembered a certain prophecy. Right before Israel enters the promised land, Moses blesses the nation tribe by tribe. When he gets to Levi, Moses says, “They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, And Your law to Israel. They shall put incense before You, And whole burnt offerings on Your altar.” (Dt 33:10)

And indeed they did.

Laura, what was your inspiration for giving a “face” to the biblical authors? How do you think this will help someone learn about these authors?

Actually, the initial idea was Jeffrey’s. He was working on pulling together the information on the authors, and asked me if I’d be willing to do an art series to go with it. I thought it would be a great way to help people connect the facts to actual people. There’s a lot of information to digest, and I hope that having images to go with it allows more of the personhood of each author to sink in. I also thought it would be a nice way to help visual learners simply find the facts about who wrote the Bible to be more interesting. Obviously, the pictures are hypothetical—we don’t know much at all about how these guys looked—but using the stats and stories Jeffrey compiled to try to draw out personalities and faces was a really fun challenge.

Can the two of you give us any hints on what you next book and/or art project might be?

We have a few in the works:

  1. For the new year, we’re launching a special email course that sends people a 3–minute summary of a book of the Bible every week. This will help new students of the Word to get an idea of what each book is about, and it should be a nice refresher for the seasoned Bible geeks out there.
  2. Thus far our readers have really enjoyed these character surveys, so we’re thinking of launching an illustrated guide to the 40 most important characters of the Bible.
  3. In 2015 Laura and I hope to collaborate with more people in the Bible geekery space. One project on the table is a book of illustrations for the Songs of Ascent (Ps 120–134), which would include more of our friends in the Christian art community.
  4. And of course, plenty of infographics, a few study guides, and possibly some video and music!

I strongly encourage you to download the FREE ebook The Illustrated Guide To The Authors Of The Bible by clicking here. Then also subscribe via RSS feed or email to the great stuff Jeffrey & Laura produce and share at The Overview Bible Project.

Is Jesus Immanuel?

Immanuel & sinI’ve read these two passages of Scripture so many times during the telling of the Advent story, but I never saw this apparent mistake. I’ve highlighted the troubling phrases below—

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with Child and will give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are you to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

Did the angel make a mistake? Was he supposed to tell Joseph “give Him the name Immanuel”? Or maybe Immanuel and Jesus mean the same thing?

The answer to all three of those questions is NO. There wasn’t a mistake; His name should be Jesus; and Immanuel and Jesus don’t mean the same thing.

Immanuel & JesusImmanuel is a cool name, appearing only three times in the Bible. The prefix “im” means with, and the suffix “el” means God. The root word in its broadest sense means people, but when we’re talking about God saving “HIS people from their sins,” the best translation would be His kinsman. Thus Immanuel = with His kinsman God.

Just before giving us the prophesy about Immanuel, Isaiah experienced the horror of being with God. When Isaiah was in God’s presence he said, “Woe is me! I am ruined! For I am a sinful man and I have seen God Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5-6). Here’s the simple fact: Our sin separates us from God’s presence. Jesus (in the Hebrew Yeshua = God saves) is the only One Who could remove the penalty of our sin!

Only Jesus could atone for our sin and remove our guilt (see Isaiah 6:7), so that God could stay with us (Immanuel)! 

Jesus (our salvation) makes Immanuel (with His kinsman God) possible. So as the Christmas carol O Come, O Come, Emmanuel implores us: Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee!

May you live in the forgiveness of Jesus and the joy of His Immanuel presence this Christmas season!

Poetry Saturday—Don’t Look Back

John WoodenThe years have left their imprint
On my hands and on my face.
Erect no longer is my walk
And slower is my pace.

But there is no fear within my heart
Because I’m growing old
I only wish I had more time
To better serve my Lord.

When I’ve gone to Him in prayer
He has brought me inner peace
And soon my cares and worries
And other problems cease.

He has helped in so many ways,
He has never let me down,
Why should I fear the future
When soon I could be near His crown.

Though I know down here my time is short
There is endless time up there
And He will forgive and keep me
Forever in His loving care.

May I not waste an hour
That’s left to glorify the Name
Of the One Who died, that we might live
And for our sins, took all the blame. —John Wooden

 

Links & Quotes

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“How shall a holy and just God treat us sinners with so much kindness as to give us the greatest Reality in the universe (His Son) to enjoy with the greatest joy possible? The answer is that God put our sins on His Son, and judged them there, so that He could put them out of His mind, and deal with us mercifully and remain just and holy at the same time.” —John Piper

This Christmas, enjoy the fruit of the first coming, but anticipate the glory of the second. We live between the advents. Let the first one whet your appetite for the final one.” Read more in Max Lucado’s post Between The Advents.

I marvel at the discovering scientists make, but I also marvel at how adamant these scientists are that there isn’t a Creator. In this study on how the earth’s deep crust could support life, one scientist says, “If you identify a source of energy that’s everywhere, it’s no longer a limiting factor for the spread of life.” The Bible does identify The Source of life!

If you love studying the Bible, here is a list of 5 free Bible study tools on the web.

[VIDEO] Lecrae gives us a good word on how to engage race issues—

John Bunyan On Prayer

John BunyanSome great quotes from John Bunyan on prayer—

“Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Spirit, for such things as God has promised.”

“The best prayers have often more groans than words.”

“Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for satan.”

“When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.”

17 Quotes From “Winning With Principle”

Winning With PrincipleJohn Wooden won the right way: with principle and integrity. And his wins were not short-lived, but they can last a lifetime. Check out a few quotes from Winning With Principle, a collection of quotes from Coach. You can read my full book review by clicking here.

“You learn as much from those under your supervision as they do from you.”

“Truth will always stand the test of scrutiny.”

“There is no substitute for hard work. If you are looking for the easy way, the shortcut … you’ll not be developing your talents.”

“The best competition I have is against myself to become better.”

“Time spent getting even would be better spent getting ahead.”

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of the self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

“There is nothing stronger than gentleness.”

“You can do more good by being good than any other way.”

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

“Players with fight never lose a game; they just run out of time.”

“The shining trophies on our shelves can never win tomorrow’s game.”

“Always try to be better today than you were yesterday.”

“Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

“Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings and the feelings of others before your own rights.”

Links & Quotes

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Pastor Saeed Abedini is an American citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith. This letter he has written from prison is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. After reading this letter I hope you will sign this petition to let your voice be added to those calling on Iran to release Pastor Saeed.

“Prayer is not a lazy substitute for work. It is not a short cut to skill or knowledge. And sometimes God delays the answer to our prayer in final form until we have time to build up the strength, accumulate the knowledge, or fashion the character that would make it possible for Him to say ‘yes’ to what we ask.” —Roy M. Pearson

“Whoever, therefore, thinks that he understands the divine Scriptures or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and of our neighbor does not understand it at all.” —Augustine

As you prepare for Christmas and celebrate Advent, check out these beautiful words from Max Lucado in What Love Does.

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit will like this post: Bilbo’s Last Goodbye.

What this so-called ethicist says about “post-natal abortion” is truly horrifying.

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