What is the Bible? : A Review of Rob Bell’s Book

The Daily Omer. Bible Commentary. What is the Bible. Omer Dylan Redden

This is a book review post.

For the first time in this series, I’m going to shift away from the source text, as the scholars would say. Instead, I want to look at the book by Rob Bell on the topic, and I’ll add my thoughts.

Here’s where we’re going:

The Book: What is the Bible?

Check out this subtitle: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything!

What a mouthful! And what a beauty!

The book starts out with a very memorable commentary on Moses, and its one that once you hear it, you can’t unhear it.

He then dives into the question we’ve always wondered, “Who paid Jesus’ bills?”

He tackles some Greek words, an obese Old Testament king, the enigma that is Melchizedek, and a wonderful chapter on Why Americans Often Miss the Major Themes of the Bible.

And by that point, it feels like we’re just getting started.

To be fair, there is organization to the book. He organizes the book into these sections:

  • There’s Something More Going on Here
  • The Nature of That Something
  • Where That Something Takes Us
  • The Questions That Always Come Up
  • Endnotes

But that hardly gives you a clue of the rest of it, right?

There’s so much more to the book — so much more — but I will let you experience the joys, wonders, and laughs of reading it. I highly recommend it!

About the Author

Rob Bell is a New York Times Bestselling author of multiple books. I say “multiple” because I think he’s currently written 10, but that could change tomorrow. He’s always releasing new content, whether it be video, audio, or written. He’s a content machine!

His podcast, The Robcast, is a delightful listen. He riffs on a myriad of things from an intelligent and joy-filled perspective. The titles are enough to make pique your curiosity and make you listen. 900 Ligaments, A Brief Guide to Ecstasy, She Always Whispered “White People,” and more.

He has self-published audiobooks and recordings on parenting, Leviticus, and public speaking. Again, wonderful titles: Launching Rockets, Blood, Guts, and Fire, and Something to Say.

And of course, he does speaking tours and makes time to write all those books.

I actually had the privilege of meeting him at one of those speaking events and getting a signed copy of his book, What is the Bible?. I’ve also had the privilege of hanging out with him virtually on a Zoom Writing Session. He gave me advice on my book, On The John: A Devotional for Dads.

Rob is just as delightful in person as he is in the books, videos, and audios. He has incredible command of a room, always finds a way to make you laugh, and really connects with people in the highs and lows of life. It’s a skill and a gift.

What I Didn’t Like

The only thing I didn’t like about Rob’s book was that it didn’t cover ALL of the Bible.

The book picks some obscure stories, some familiar stories, some controversial stories, and rather than picking and choosing through the whole of it, I’d love to hear him go through the entire thing.

Now, that book would likely be multiple volumes and take years to write, so I can’t blame him for making one that was just long enough to get the masses to read.

1200 pages might be a little much, whereas most people can handle a couple hundred pages at once.

But… if he wrote a commentary on the entire Bible, book by book, I’m sure many others, just like me, would read it.

What I Loved

More than anything, this book revived my curiosity in the Bible.

Being a Bible college and seminary student in my earlier years, there were times it felt like we had the Bible under a microscope of examination and we were trying to change it rather than letting it change us.

When I read this book, I had just gone through a bit of a dry spell with my reading and study of the Bible. His book reminded me that there’s so much more to be discovered, and I’ve truly just scratched the surface.

He and Philip Yancey have that unique gift of taking you on the exploration and making you feel like you’re unearthing things together.

The other thing I love about this book is Rob does a phenomenal job of sharing just enough.

  • Just enough to prove there’s a lot more going on under the surface than you originally see.
  • Just enough to show you that this ancient library is still relevant today.
  • Just enough to provoke you to dive into it more yourself.
  • Just enough to make you laugh.
  • Just enough to make you question.
  • Just enough to leave you wanting more.

And as someone who has followed his work for years, I can say Rob does this in almost every piece of content he puts out. He gives you just enough.

You can find all of Rob’s work here.

Additional Resources

Visit this page for more posts in this series on “What is the Bible?”.

Visit this page for commentary on different books in the Bible.

Published by omerdylanredden

I write.

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