Most people settle for reading the Bible in a year. Seems like every Bible-related website has a plan. So how do you go one better on that?
Krish Kandiah’s “crash course in navigating life with the Bible” has an 8-week plan, complete with study guide, discussion questions and prompts for a “travel journal.”
Route 66 uses travel/car metaphors to guide the reader through the Bible. The original Route 66 is the famous “main street of America,” the historic highway from Detroit to Los Angeles, John Steinbeck’s “Mother Road.” The metaphor is useful for a journey that the author hopes will be life-changing.
Route 66 is a book on hermeneutics, for people who have never heard of hermaneutics, and probably don’t care. For students of the Bible, the easiest explanation is that it is a light version of Fee and Stewart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.
That’s not to say it’s unworthy. It’s written for a different audience. An audience who may have little or no previous exposure to the Bible, who are curious enough about it to take on an 8-week challenge to discover what it’s all about.
In 8 weeks, there are discussions of 8 Biblical genres, and how to read them and make sense of them. There’s a brief reading for each day of each week, focusing on specific aspects of the genre in question. Each reading has questions to be responded to in a “travel journal,” and each week ends with a suggested small group study.
As one might expect in such a book, difficult questions get a mention and a nod, but hardly enough discussion. For example, in the reading on Leviticus, Kandiah suggests that there are three different kinds of laws: [obsolete] Civil Laws, [obsolete] Ceremonial Laws, and [eternal] Moral Laws. “In practice,” he says, “the laws don’t always fit neatly into each category… The Old Testament itself gives no hint of any such distinctions.” He then invites readers to use these categories to categorize the laws in Leviticus chapter 19. Too neat, too quick, and hardly fair to the reader, especially a novice in Bible studies.
Of course, it’s not intended to be a theological treatise, rather a “crash course.” Any author attempting to introduce the subject matter of the Bible in less than 200 pages is bound to gloss over a few things. The idea is to get people reading the Bible and contemplating it. If they get past the first hurdle (actually reading it), they presumably have more time to contemplate more difficult questions at their own leisure.
I described this book as “Fee and Stuart light” to one of my friends, and he asked whether Kandiah takes a higher view (than Fee and Stuart did) of the Old Testament. Given the limitations of a brief introduction, Kandiah seems always to explain the Old Testament in terms of Jesus Christ. Some things point to Christ; others pre-figure Christ; others are fulfilled by Christ. It is perhaps simplistic, but it is a starting place.
As a Sunday-school teacher, I find the book intriguing. As I read it, I tried to imagine how I would deal with a class who met once a week to discuss the material, as suggested. I’m not sure whether Kandiah has given me too much material, or too little. Certainly I will be using this little book as a resource; and perhaps I will try an 8 week crash course.