Saving the Bible from Ourselves

by Glenn Paauw

a Short Review

by Liam Walsh

I loved Glenn Paauw’s main argument in this book, which is that our Bibles are long overdo for a makeover so that we can actually enjoy reading them like we can do with any other book. I did have some misgivings about the book when the author started getting into theology, however this book was still absolutely great.

Paauw points out that the cheap way most Bible’s are mass produced, the overwhelming presence of tiny numbers and cross references, tiny print, thin pages, and the over-all poor appearance contribute to the general abandonment of Bible reading in our culture.

Paauw makes his point with elegant, winsome, and sometimes hilarious writing. He even puts his book together to image in a way what a beautifully crafted Bible might look like (with colorful headings, quotes or poetry set apart and formatted correctly). He also builds the structure of the book in a Hebrew chaism. The book was a pleasure to read because of these as well as his gifted writing ability. There was also some fascinating history that Paauw gave, like the fact that the New Testament was originally set in 3 parts in order to match the “First” Testement’s 3 parts: 1: Gospels & Acts, 2: Pauline Epistles, 3: Catholic Epistles & Revelation in the NT, to match 1: The Law, 2: the Prophets, and 3: the Writings in the OT respectively.

However I also did have some reservations about the book. At times the author presents his theological views as simply correct without much engagement of the Bible on them. For example, he seems critical of justification by faith alone, and supports the new perspective on Paul in a way that doesn’t really engage Scripture, or those on the other side. It also appears that he posits the monistic soul sleep after death position as opposed to a belief in heaven after death. He presents the view of heaven as more or less rediculous and only from Greek philosophy as opposed to the Bible. He quotes Alistair Begg here as an example of wrong thinking. He doesn’t in all this speak of the alternative, and more biblical position of heaven as an intermediate state, which is after death, but before the creation/restoration of a new earth and the future resurrection. He also in places seems to undermine preaching itself and as far as I can tell, instead endorses only public Bible reading in it’s place. He seems to denigrate study of detailed specifics in Scripture in favor of reading whole books in one sitting and looking only at the themes. All this being said, this is the flavor of the book while reading. However I don’t want to emphasize these points too strongly, because Paauw is always a little cryptic about his own beliefs. I couldn’t in the end get a sense of what theological tradition Paauw himself was from, or whether he was or was not evangelical, or orthodox in his Christian views. Not that any of these things matter as far as his main argument is concerned. But when he starts getting into theology it seems to me he could present his position with more clarity and evidence and with more fairness to the other positions.

However, as long as the reader knows their convictions on these theological issues this book is a marvelous read. Paauw’s observations on the Bible and the publishing industry – and the history of these is fascinating. Paauw’s considerations and suggestions were, I think, one of the driving forces behind publishers adopting the modern reader’s Bibles – for which I am very thankful to him.

Over all, this really was a great and engaging read, and Paauw had some excellent wisdom on how we can be better at crafting the good book. I changed my Bible reading habits as a result of this book (more reading of whole books!). A worthy read for anyone interested in the Bible, our intake of it, and it’s physical form.