Donald O’Dell has woven an interesting tapestry of bible research, scholarship, and personal experience into this examination of the authenticity of biblical entries. While the references O’Dell uses are reliable and thorough, the beauty of this book is its readability. Many exploratory books that lean heavily on academic biblical research can be so dense it takes a person wholly devoted to the subject—or making their salary from it—to decipher the author’s writing style.
Divided into two parts, one for the Old and one for the New Testament, there are cumulatively 12 chapters, two pages of bibliography, and three pages each of index and footnotes. O’Dell provides a historical context for the chapters and verses along with some strong doses of common sense about what social and political factors may have contributed to the characters, personalities, and their role in recording these powerfully consequential stories that have shaped Western, if not world, history.
This examination is really an open-minded exploration of whether morality is inextricably tied to biblical tenets that came directly from the font of God. As we gradually learn, issues of morality were well illuminated for many hundreds of years before such principles landed in either Testament. What we do come to understand is that many of the exquisitely complex moral questions of the right and wrong of human action have been seductively intertwined into the Bible so as to create a seemingly authoritative, absolute, and final comment on what ought to and should be.
Thomas Peter von Bahr, Pacific NorthWest Group,
Lopez Island, Wash.