August 5, 2020

Review: Pocket Guide To The Bible by Jason Boyett

Pocket Guide to the Bible: A Little Book About the Big BookUPDATE: Jason is guestblogging at the BHT June 12-16. My White Castles have yet to arrive.

A few years ago our family encountered The Reduced Shakespeare Company’sThe Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged,” a two hour stage production that took my beloved Bard, mixed him with three manic, irreverent comedians, and produced the most outrageously crazed comedic evening I’d ever enjoyed. We bought the DVD, and I’m waiting for the opportunity to see productions of their cracked-up takes on other academic subjects, which now include in addition to Shakespeare, Western Civilization, American History, All The Great Books, Completely Hollywood, and “The Bible: The Complete Word of God.”

Until I get to a performance of that last one, I will comfort myself with one of the funniest books I’ve read in at least five years, Jason Boyett’s latest production for Relevant Books, Pocket Guide To The Bible. If you are a reader of IM and/or the BHT and laugh when I/we laugh, then get this book tomorrow. If you are concerned about my orthodoxy and are taking notes on what I say to put me on trial somewhere in the watchblogosphere later this year….you need to buy it, too, but for different reasons.

I know what you are thinking. Here’s the 121st Dummies book on the Bible and soon it will be on the Books-a-Million back room bargain table with all the rest of those clunkers. Jason gives me a copy (true btw) and I review it, selling my integrity for practically nothing and telling you a lot of pablum about the book in the process.

Add in dinner at White Castle and you’ve pretty much got it. No, seriously, that’s kinda what I thought, but when I read Jason’s book, I was wrong about a dozen ways. It’s not competing with the Dummies books (if you are, Jason, Sorry man!) It’s an informative read, so I wouldn’t pick it for my Intro to the Bible students as a textbook. As a supplemental text? Fun reading to create interest? Reward for good work? Oh yeah. Perfect. The key to finding out if the Christians around you have retained their sense of humor or lost it all to aliens? It’s the wonder drug.

Here’s my “Top Twelve Reasons You Should Buy “Pocket Guide To The Bible” instead of that Holman Christian Standard translation you’ve been saving up for.

1. Jason writes funny books, and this is his funniest yet. If you enjoyed the Guy’s Guide To Life or his recent Guide to the Apocalypse, you will be in for twice the enjoyment. Jason is one of the finest young “light comedy” writers in the Christian market. As an added bonus, his comedic gifts come along with a bunch of helpful, usually overlooked information on subjects young adults are interested in.

2. Your friends will actually laugh when you read this book to them, and be interested enough in the subject matter to want more. Leave it on your desk at work or take it to lunch. You are guaranteed to be more popular. Don’t overdo it, but in appropriate doses, you will be the life of the lunch table for at least two weeks. Maybe a month.

3. The book is full of cool raw material ideas for talks, skits and creative communication. As a professional communicator with young people, this book is gold for me. I will shamelessly steal Jason’s wit, observations and humor. His off-center view of Biblical characters make for easy translation into the kinds of things I like to use as sermon introductions, Sunday evening talks and much more. The creative communicators in your ministry will love this book.

4. It will make a great gift for anyone who works with the Bible: pastors, seminary profs, students, teachers. When you have to take on a subject professionally, a book like this can awaken fresh appreciation with some humor and insight. (Warning: If your pastor is a stick in the mud, give him this book as soon as possible, then stand well back.)

5. If you are involved in conversational evangelism, this book can be a great way to knock down the walls of presumption that the Bible is boring. If you are doing evangelism with people who think they know the Bible, here is a way to do an “end run” and make a strong statement that the Bible is interesting, relevant, and funny enough to talk about in a Bible study without being certain of going into a coma.

6. You are going to learn a lot of Biblical information in a very interesting way. Don’t let me emphasize Jason’s humor too much. There is a world of information on all different levels in the book. It’s well organized and accessible. The facts, insights and little-known-trivia are appropriately balanced out to keep the important uses of the book foremost.

7. This book has the word “tallywhacker” right there on the page in an article on circumcision. Like I said, you need two copies.

8. If cool Bible names for babies make you smile, buy two copies at least. I’ve never had more fun with Bible names. It’s better than reading the name tags at a home school convention.

9. You will never look at your King James version the same way again. Who knew it was the funniest book in the house?

10. Jason’s Bible Time Line is a history course that you will want to take at least twice as soon as you read it. It stops at 1611, so your fundamentalists will be pleased.

11. The overview of various translations is truthful, helpful and guess what? Honest. Therefore it’s funny enough to deal with rumors that the NIV is endorsed by Satan.

12. With this book you are well-armed to irritate the humor-challenged brethren and sistern who are now all around us here in the blogosphere. I mean, when Mark Driscoll’s piece on “How Jack Bauer is a Type of Christ” has half the Christian blogosphere typing mad and seeing red, we have some seriously uptight people around here. They’ve got a fever, and Jason will do more good than more cowbell.

A special thanks to Jason for sharing “Pocket Guide” with me. I had a blast, and I’m getting a few copies for family and students. And a case to drop into certain seminaries…just to see which buildings blow up first.

Comments

  1. Rachel Robinson says

    I think you should post this review on Amazon!

  2. centuri0n says

    Here’s an interesting question, Michael, which only has some marginal connection to your review here: while I realize that you’re a lot more friendly with the “emergent” thing than I am, do you think Relevant Books (the publishing house) takes the Christian faith seriously, or are they part of the problem we discussed in the interview we just concluded (or is there a third choice I am overlooking)?

  3. Histrion (Jay H) says

    Ditto what Rachel said. 🙂

  4. Hey Frank…

    Still innundated under school. I don’t know if I am going to be able to write a response to your interviews for a while. But I probably would say that Relevant is a bit of an odd bird. They are certainly pursuing their own vision, it’s obviously quite commercial, and a person standing within the confessional, traditional community would find much to be offended by and perhaps worried about.

    On the other hand, I have a pretty broad view of useful literature. I’m sure you wouldn’t be shocked to discover that I would recommend some RC Biblical scholars betfore many Protestants, and every so often the edgy, funky, irrevernt guys write things that have value in some contexts. You could send a book like Boyett’s to lots of SBC preachers to wave around and condemn, and all their points would be correct. On the other hand, Boyett’s book can get the attention of a lot of the people that I work with in a way that the Macarthur Intro to the Bible won’t. It may be flaws in a book that provide its usefulness in some contexts.

    So I do believe the Amazon reviews are very helpful, because a person can get some idea of what they are contemplating purchasing, and if it is less than serious, they can be forewarned. There are uses for less than serious literature. Take your web site, for example.

    I haven’t read enough “Relevant” material to comment on this issue with any authority, however, and I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who brag about how much I know about what I haven’t ever read.

  5. Ted Gossard says

    Thanks Michael. A must read, at least for me. Many of us need to enjoy more richly the gift of humor.

  6. Very Nice review, I think I’l have to pick this book up. I read A Guy’s Guide t Life (which was fantastic, hilarious, and helpful) just finishd re-reading it, so I googled Jason Boyett and this showed up) and am definately interested in the “Pocket Guide” Series.

    Thank you, Mr. Spencer.

    -Drew Bo