Book Review : The Badly Behaved Bible by Nick Page

The Badly Behaved Bible: Thinking again about the story of ScriptureThe Badly Behaved Bible: Thinking again about the story of Scripture by Nick Page
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 stars – I loved this book – Inspirational, intelligent, intriguing & invigorating.

Nick Page’s writing style is engaging and very easy to read.

Whether you’re a Christian, agnostic or atheist this book is a refreshing revelation into how you should approach and treat the collection of books that is the Bible. Whether you believe these works are a basis of belief and theology or just an interesting collection of ancient literature and philosophy – you need to read Nick Page’s book to help define (and redefine) how you should think about what the Bible actually is and how to approach it.

Nick Page very skilfully shows us that the Bible uses lots of different genres of writing – poetry, prose, letters, law, etc We can’t just treat it as one thing or one genre or just say ‘this is the literal word of God’ – full stop, no further comment – it’s a lot more nuanced than this. He goes on to argue that if we treat it like this – as a monolithic ‘one size fits all’ piece of literature, then a lot is missed out in understanding and interpretation. We end up in a state of cognitive dissonance – believing/thinking of it all as one thing, rather than really understanding what it is actually is and what it is saying about the people who wrote it down.

We have to identify what kind of writing we’re dealing with, because we don’t read them all the same way. We read a poem like Song of Solomon very differently from how we read the Gospels, or the letters of Paul.

So a key question to ask yourself about ANY biblical text is:

‘What kind of writing is this?’

Because a lot of the arguments about the Bible are really arguments about what kind of writing we’re dealing with.

Nick argues that the text of the Bible makes more sense if you break it down and look at each part individually rather than approach it as if it were just one book. If you treat it like this and then approach it, as we inevitably do, with pre-conceived ideas of what we think it is or what it should be – then you get a ‘Badly behaved Bible’ – we think its one thing, but it refuses to be that ‘one thing’

To quote Nick

‘It’s easy to misread a lot of this stuff, and even the sharpest minds have got confused.’

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Book Synopsis

‘Official’ Book Description

We’re told that the Bible is beautiful, uplifting and a joy to read – but, while we know this is how we’re supposed to feel about it, in reality many of us find the very opposite. On opening the Bible, we are faced with a multitude of problems; from its form and historical content to its sheer size and often distasteful stories, we can be left feeling overwhelmed and disheartened. But the problem is not with the Bible – and it’s not with us either.

The problem is we’ve been misinformed. And so, we end up believing things about the Bible that the Bible never claims for itself. But the Bible won’t politely sign up to the neat categories and terms we force on it. That’s why it’s badly behaved. We want to control the Bible and tame it so that we can ride it into battle; but the Bible bucks and rears and throws us off. We want to pin the Bible down so that it proves our theology; but the Bible evades capture and plays hide and seek. We want answers; but the Bible keeps firing questions. We want it to tell us what to do; but the Bible keeps telling us to think. We want to make the Bible dance to our tune: but the Bible has music of its own. The Bible is an invitation and a call. The breath of God lifts its pages, and they rise and fall with his breathing.

In his honest and accessible style, Nick Page urges us to re-discover a fresh look at the Bible as the scriptural bedrock of the Christian faith, to learn how we can undo unhelpful ways of reading it and demystifying its purpose and scope.

Nick tackles what the Bible is and what it isn’t, how we can critically read this inspired text and how we approach the difficulties in its content.

Alongside helpful analysis and practical advice – including kickstarting his one-man campaign to ban “Bible study” – Nick helps us re-discover how to rediscover the Bible as Holy Ground, as a place where we meet and encounter God.