The author's purpose in writing this engaging book is to persuade people to read the Bible. It is cast in semi-fictional form . He explains why. L is a friend, real or imagined. The book is a 'guide' to the Bible . It takes the form of seven chapters devoted to the search for a historical Jesus; the Prophets; the Book of Job; the Gospels, and the idea of the Bible as a Book of the People. In the last chapter Wilson visits Ghent to see and discuss the famous Altarpiece.
The title of this book has been chosen because the Bible has affected human life. Wilson points out that before the Bible became a book available to all, thanks to Luther, its contents were familiar as images carved in stone or painted on glass. Once it became known as a book there began the accusation it was not true. Today, he rightly says the Bible is unfamiliar to many. He argues that one reason for this is that there has been a tendency since the Enlightenment to think of the 'Bible in fundamentalist ways'.
The Bible, it has been said, is very subversive and iconoclastic. It clearly appeals to the author who enquires into what the Bible is, what it means and how it works. He argues that the plodding fundamentalists of both atheist and religious persuasions are hopelessly wrong.
As Wilson explains the Bible was written by thousands over centuries .The stories often contradict each other. He attacks those who argue the Bible is a 'shopping list of bossy assertions'. A sort of Koran to tell us what we must do and when. The Bible he says could not be more different. It does not give answers. Instead it 'nudges the imagination'.
Wilson regards the Book of Job as a 'stupendous work of literature'. This chapter is a gem. He calls it the Bible in miniature. Given its unique beauty, Wilson is puzzled as to why the well-read and educated in the West have decided that the Bible is not worthy of their attention. In the book he says his friend L believed it was in part laziness. He quotes Dawkins as saying that the Gospels are ' ancient fiction'.
This is an excellent, thought-provoking book that explores the power and beauty of the Bible. Not everyone will share the author's opinions but they should make the effort to understand them. A wonderful imaginative journey. Read it.