A Reader's Guide to the Bible, By John Goldingay
A Reader's Guide to the Bible
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: November 14, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5174
  • ISBN: 9780830851744

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Approaching the Bible for the first time can be intimidating. At sixty-six books, nearly 800,000 words, and numerous kings, prophets, and deliverers, as well as priests and apostles, where should you begin? In what order should you read it? Why are there narratives here and over there, but other things mixed between? And is there an alternative to reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation?  

In A Reader’s Guide to the Bible John Goldingay places the biblical books in their times and settings, and then lays out a memorable pattern for understanding the Bible. Three categories of biblical books—story, word, and response—form three doors into the cathedral that is the Bible: the story of God and his people, the word of God to his people, and the people’s response to God.

Whether you are a person of Christian faith or other faith, or no faith at all, here is a reliable guide to exploring the Bible. Written by a highly accomplished biblical scholar, A Reader’s Guide to the Bible joins a clear and direct style with a maestro’s touch.

"For readers who really don't know the Bible well (and hate to admit it), John Goldingay's well-written, concise outline is utterly accessible and complete. It's just the tool we need. As a skilled teacher of the Old Testament, he knows how often everyone can be overwhelmed by the details. This reader's guide provides the brief summaries we need to grasp the larger story arc and its essential teachings. I can imagine this book being widely used in churches or as a review for students who need to complete what they're missing."

Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College and Graduate School

"John Goldingay pours the wisdom of years of scholarship and teaching into this primer on the Bible. He invites us into the world of this ancient text to hear how it tells the story of God and God's people. A Reader's Guide to the Bible provides a straightforward and succinct point of entry for anyone desiring better acquaintance with the Bible. I cannot recommend this little volume highly enough."

Jeannine K. Brown, professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary

"The Bible can be overwhelming for the first-time reader. There's so much to take in, so much to fill in ('Where in the story does this prophet fit in?'), and so much to coordinate (like two versions of the story of Israel's monarchy and four versions of the story of Jesus). Having devoted his career equally to the scholarly study of Scripture among academics and to the communication of its message to 'normal' people, Goldingay now offers a primer for those furthest from being at home in the pages of the Bible. This book provides a winsome overview of the story of the whole and how all the parts fit together. It's an ideal tool for the person standing at the threshold of his or her first time reading through the Bible itself."

David A. deSilva, author of Day of Atonement

"Dr. Goldingay shows us how the Israelites found themselves in God's story and invites us to find ourselves in it too. He lays out a framework for reading the Bible as well as an interpretive lens through which to understand each book in its context. In doing so, Goldingay invites us to dive deeper into the individual books of the Bible, but also into the rich life behind the texts. We are enchanted by the story of God at work among his people, seeing how our Lord has been weaving a redemptive narrative from the start. Even those who have been reading Scripture for decades will learn fresh ways of approaching the text."

Annie Neufeld, pastor, Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, CA

"A Reader's Guide to the Bible is a thorough and user-friendly outline of the story of God. A brilliant academic exposition that transcends the world of academia. This book can be read by both the seminarian and the one completely new to their faith. A must-have for anyone wanting a more thorough understanding of what the Bible is."

Albert Tate, senior pastor, Fellowship Monrovia

"Whether you're new to the Bible or have been reading it for years, John Goldingay's A Reader's Guide to the Bible will prove a helpful companion as you turn the pages of the world's bestselling book. Concise, accessible, and insightful, Goldingay provides the reader with an introduction to the stories, cultures, and history from which the Bible arises, serving to deepen our understanding of the story of God unfolding in its pages."

Sean Gladding, author of Ten and The Story of God, the Story of Us

"Whether you're setting out to explore the world of the Bible for the first time or are a seasoned traveler, this brief guide is a trustworthy companion. Old Testament scholar John Goldingay knows the ins and outs of Scripture but limits himself to information and themes that will enhance your own exploration."

Lindsay Olesberg, Scripture engagement director, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, author of The Bible Study Handbook

"John Goldingay's A Reader's Guide to the Bible (IVP, 2017) gets the big things right."

Marvin Olasky, World Magazine, May 12, 2018

"Goldingay's readable style, coupled with his ability to provide historical and literary context to shed light on difficult biblical passages, makes for an important contribution to biblical literacy, particularly for anyone fairly new to the critical study of Scripture."

Carson Brisson, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, Vol. 73(2)


Part I: God’s Story and God’s Word in God’s World
1. The Events of the Bible
2. The Land of the Bible
Part II: The Story of God and His People
3. Beginnings: Genesis to Numbers
4. From Triumph to Defeat: Deuteronomy to Kings
5. The Story of the Community: Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah
6. Short Stories: Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel
7. The Story of Jesus and the Church: Matthew to Acts
Part III: The Word of God to His People
8. The Instruction of the Priests: Exodus to Deuteronomy
9. The Message of the Prophets: Isaiah to Malachi
10. The Letters of the Apostles: Romans to Jude
11. The Visions of the Seers: Daniel, Revelation
12. The Advice of the Experts: Proverbs, Song of Songs
Part IV: Israel’s Response to God
13. Prayer and Praise: Psalms, Lamentations
14. Doubts and Certainties: Ecclesiastes, Job
Epilogue: The Bible Today
Scripture Index


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John Goldingay

John Goldingay (PhD, University of Nottingham; DD, Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth) is professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, but lives in Oxford, England. He was previously principal and professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at St. John's Theological College in Nottingham, England. His books include An Introduction to the Old Testament, A Reader's Guide to the Bible, Reading Jesus's Bible, and commentaries on Psalms, Isaiah, and Daniel. He has also authored a Biblical Theology, the three-volume Old Testament Theology and the seventeen-volume Old Testament for Everyone series, and has published a translation of the entire Old Testament called The First Testament: A New Translation.