The Visual Word – Patrick Schreiner and Anthony Benedetto

The Visual Word: Illustrated Outlines of The New Testament Books by Patrick Schreiner
Published by Moody Publishers on June 1, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Theology
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The New Testament shouldn’t be complicated. So why are we often confused?
Every Christian wants to love the Bible. But let’s face it: we sometimes get lost in all the names, places, and doctrines that we find in its pages. Who wrote this epistle? Which book is about justification? Joy? Jesus? Aren’t they all about him? The New Testament contains complex ideas and multiple genres. Keeping it straight can be hard to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody who understands the big picture would put it together for us in one place?
Biblical scholar and seminary professor Patrick Schreiner draws from his years of experience as a teacher to offer a simple and memorable way of understanding Scripture. And he doesn’t do it by throwing big words at you. The contours of the New Testament and its underlying structure are depicted in visual format along with Schreiner’s clear explanations. In The Visual Word, the Bible comes alive because you can see it pictured before your eyes. By taking a graphic approach, you’ll notice connections you’ve never seen before. Gain insights you’ve missed all these years. And discover an overall pattern that makes each separate piece fall perfectly into place.
Don’t settle for mere summaries of the New Testament. Let Schreiner’s concise words and crisp images work together to help you encounter the Living Word in a fresh way.

People learn in different ways. The typical church experience is geared toward those who learn by listening (to the sermon) and reading (the Bible). That hasn’t always been the case. In the past, when most people were illiterate and masses were held in Latin (a language not spoken by the common people), art was a common way to bring an understanding of the faith to the people. It was an era of great paintings and architecture and stained glass. And while the Scriptures have been made more accessible, we’ve also lost something of that visual element of sharing our faith.

The Visual Word isn’t a Rembrandt or a Michelangelo, it’s not a stained-glass masterpiece or a giant fresco. But it is something of a recapturing of that idea that we learn by what we see. Theologian Patrick Schreiner has teamed by with illustrator Anthony Benedetto to provide a visual outline of the New Testament that combines learning styles and catches the eye in a way that will enhance your view of the New Testament and help you understand it, commit it to memory, and engage with it in ways you never have before.

This is a big, beautiful coffee table style book. Each book of the Bible runs 6-8 pages, breaking the book into sections summarized through an icon style illustration and a one-paragraph summary. Schreiner’s breakdown of the books is serviceable, but not exhaustive, as he’s limited to space. Benedetto’s illustrations capture each section well. They’re minimalistic yet thoughtful and truly do capture the essence of the text.

I do wish that the book had been just a bit more visual. My standard in this area is The Bible Project’s book that does pretty much this same thing. It’s much more robust in the visual aspect, providing full illustrations with the text worked into the illustration itself. While it was overly busy at times, The Visual Word goes to the other extreme, being overly minimalistic, sometimes reducing Benedetto’s wonderful illustrations to what amounts to bullet points for Schreiner’s outline. (It’s worth noting that this book has the endorsement of Tim Mackie, The Bible Project’s founder, on the back cover.)

If you’re a visual learner, if you have a child who is a visual learner, this book will open up the Scriptures to you in a new way. It’s a good guide to work through along with Scripture reading. Schreiner’s summaries are solid, insightful, and informative. Even just seeing how he breaks down a book enables readers to understand that book a bit better and understand the flow of a book outside of the rather arbitrary and antiquated chapters that Scripture is typically broken into. This is a book that I’d recommend looking at before you purchase. Make sure it fits your needs. But I do know is that we need more books like this. I’m hoping an Old Testament edition is in the works!