Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew About the Bible – Michael Bird

Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible by Michael F. Bird
Published by Zondervan on June 8, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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Answers to the most common questions and misconceptions about the Bible
Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible is a short and readable introduction to the Bible—its origins, interpretation, truthfulness, and authority.
Bible scholar, prolific author, and Anglican minister Michael Bird helps Christians understand seven important "things" about this unique book:
how the Bible was put together;what "inspiration" means;how the Bible is true;why the Bible needs to be rooted in history;why literal interpretation is not always the best interpretation;how the Bible gives us knowledge, faith, love, and hope; andhow Jesus Christ is the center of the Bible.Seven Things presents a clear and understandable evangelical account of the Bible's inspiration, canonization, significance, and relevance in a way that is irenic and compelling. It is a must read for any serious Bible reader who desires an informed and mature view of the Bible that will enrich their faith.

For years, I’ve longed for a text to use with high-schoolers to introduce them to the Bible. Even if you’ve read the Bible your whole life, or perhaps especially if you’ve read the Bible your whole life, there’s certain things that you should know that you probably don’t. Just things you’ve taken for granted. Where did the Bible come from? How was it translated? How do we know we got the right books? What makes for a good translation?

Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew About the Bible answers all those questions and more, engaging readers in a fun, informative, fast-paced, introductory overview to basic biblical studies. The seven things are, as follows:

  1. The Bible Didn’t Just Fall Out of the Sky
  2. The Bible is Divinely Given and Humanly Composed
  3. Scripture is Normative, Not Negotiable
  4. The Bible is for Our Time, but Not about Our Time
  5. We Should Take the Bible Seriously, but not Always Literally
  6. The Purpose of Scripture is Knowledge, Faith, Love, and Hope
  7. Christ is the Centre of the Christian Bible

(Dr. Bird spells center as centre because he’s Australian and odd like that.) This is a palm-sized, 200-page book that manages to be both concise and thorough. Bird challenges evangelical/fundamentalist assumptions with grace and wit, leading readers into a contextually-informed reading of Scripture. My favorite chapter is the one on taking the Bible seriously, but not always literally. Wooden literalism can be a problem in evangelicalism. Bird pushes gently against that, reminding readers that if a text was meant to be symbolic, then the way to read it literally it to interpret it as symbolism.

Bird doesn’t dumb it down for his audience. He understands that this is an introductory text and so carefully defines and explains everything. The book never assumes the reader has established background knowledge in certain areas, but neither does it shy away from explaining things like the Apocrypha and critical texts. Seven Things respects the reader’s ability to learn and their capability take in new information, but is carefully to not be overwhelming.

Michael Bird’s wit and easy-going manner keep the material from coming across as dry academic musings. In a relevant and conversational tone, Bird shows how Scripture itself isn’t dry and outdated, but relevant and living. Important sentences and terms are bolded and italicized throughout, giving readers a visual cue of when something is especially important. Each chapter also ends with recommended reading of a more academic nature for those that really want to do a deep dive.

Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew About the Bible is one of the most important and useful books I’ve seen in a long time. Buy it by the carton and hand it out to your church. Do a small group study over it. It’ll revolutionize the way you see Scripture and how you approach reading the Bible.