Thinking Out Loud

May 28, 2020

Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination: A Must for your Bookshelf

Filed under: books, Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:10 am

In September of 2014, I treated myself to two volumes in veteran Christian musician and songwriter Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination series, Luke: The Gospel of Amazement and Mark: The Gospel of Passion. You can read my original take on the series at this link.

After six years of hoping that this blog might gain the grace of InterVarsity Press (IVP) I gave up and purchased the two remaining titles, Matthew: The Gospel of Identity and John: The Gospel of Wisdom. (Each paperback also has a corresponding music CD which may be purchased separately; although I believe we do own one of them.) I’ve just finished reading John.

Recently I heard a pastor say that he struggles with devotional reading, but gains great benefit from reading Bible reference material and commentaries because it draws him into a focus on Jesus while at the same time satisfying his intellectual appetite. I think he put words to my own craving to be spending more time in contemplation of the Bible while at the same time meeting my self-perceived information deficit.

In my original review, I explained that the format is somewhat reminiscent of the Daily Study Bible series by William Barclay. The text is included in full; he used the HCSB as a base text. In the case of John, there are twenty-one chapters and most have at least three subsections, but reading a chapter at a time is most fulfilling. 

Card’s primary goal in approaching John’s gospel is to address the various misunderstandings that surround Jesus’ words. He bookends the book with deeper delve into the theme, wisdom, and alludes to the wisdom literature of the Bible, though not the book of Proverbs itself, which none of the gospel writers quote.

He uncovers what he terms “miracles in absentia” where Jesus pronounces a healing without being physically present. When Jesus questions the people’s motive for following him — the free lunch — he subtitles that part of the chapter “The Bread King” and suggests that the word manna can be literally translated as “? !” Card doesn’t spend time on traditionally taught themes in John, such as the “I Am…” statements, and has a different take on Peter’s restoration at the end of the story.

These are commentaries, but the series title ‘Biblical Imagination’ is to be remembered. While some of the remarks about key passages finds their roots in the writing of other commentaries, the series invites the readers to be drawn into the picture; to see themselves in the middle of the crowd listening to Jesus teach, interact with his close disciples, or performing miracles and also to learn “the backgrounds that make the stories come to life.” (p13)  

It’s the type of creative commentary you would expect a musician to write!

 


Sample: Here’s an excerpt from Mark: The Gospel of Passion which I posted in 2014 at C201.

 

 

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