Book Reviews & Reader Comments

The Florida Writers Association awarded, How the Bible became the Bible, the winner in the non-fiction category of the 2006 Royal Palm Literary Award contest. The announcement was made November 11, during the FWA 2006 Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.

This award represents recognition from professional writers. FWA encompasses all of Florida and is composed of professional and aspiring writers representing all genres and including novelists, poets, historians, journalists, educators, article-writers, editors, etc.

[How the Bible became the Bible] provides excellent historical background as well as the author's personal history, which enhances his message by providing a glimpse of how the Holy Scripture can really be used. The book discusses very technical subjects yet makes them understandable to the average reader. It is a useful positive approach and has the ability to provide healing insight among today's dogmatic and divisive approaches to scripture…. I will be promoting your book during my seminars…."
Lee Carroll, author of "Indigo Children" and many "Kyron" books
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.

Donald O’Dell has woven an interesting tapestry of research, scholarship, and personal experience into this examination of the authenticity of biblical entries. While there are people that have developed beliefs that every word is the literal utterance of God (or Jesus as God), no one who understands centuries of transcription of text under conditions not often very favorable to the scribes will object to the common sense employed by the author in putting together this work. [read more]
Published (Edited) Review: New Age Retailer
As you know, I teach the Bible courses at Unity Institute. I have placed your book, How the Bible became the Bible, on the recommended reading list for all students of these courses. Don, I'm so glad you wrote this – providing a sane, high-level discussion of the development, history, and understanding of the Bible for us today – in what is becoming a growing climate of extremism, pandering, misinformation and divisiveness.
Rev. E.J. Niles, Unity Village, MO.
In How the Bible became the Bible Mr. O’Dell has done for New Thought audiences what Jack Miles (God A Biography) and Bishop John Shelby Spong (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism) have done for their audiences. … The major strength of O’Dell’s book is the commentary that relates the Bible and its history to our everyday lives.
Rev. Evelyn (EJ) Niles, Embracing the Bible (ETB) Ministry, a ministry of the Association of Unity Churches.
Mr. O’Dell has written a sane book that gives us a peek into the history of what we call our Bible. It awakens us to the importance of thinking through our automatic responses to our childhood Bible orientation and making a claim on our own spirituality…. I visualize this book reaching out and touching the many people who may have settled for a ritualized and meaningless experience with God, or may have given up on their spirituality altogether…. I really appreciated the way the book concluded with a very practical spiritual message.
Rev. Elizabeth Claire, Minister, Saint Augustine Center for Positive Living, a congregation of Religious Science International.
How the Bible became the Bible can put years of Bible study and Scripture reading suddenly into focus. It sharpens the big picture no matter how clear it seemed before…. The research and scholarship are excellent, yet it can be read as easily by those with little biblical knowledge as by those with [Bible study] experience.
Karen Harvey, historian, published author, and active member of the Memorial Presbyterian Church, Saint Augustine, FL.
Even though I’ve had a lot of Bible study, I found it wonderfully informative and alive.
Ms. Amy George, Licensed Unity Teacher, Reston, VA.
This book is outrageous. Thoroughly documented, this work is never dry, but rather, is written with wit and charm even as the author presents his evidence that the work we know as the Bible is a far friendlier tome than our established religious fathers would have us believe. I totally recommend this book to anyone who is even thinking about exploring the Bible. An excellent read, cover to cover.
NL Quatrano
New Light on the "Good Book:" "A myriad of research on the Bible is distilled into a readable format. It puts a human face on the texts that have come to be considered by some "the word of God"..... all the more interesting as the author weaves into this history the story of his own spiritual awakening. I now feel I can speak more intelligently about the Bible, and enjoy more fully its mystery and meaning.
DJ Starke
I've been reading all day and it's fascinating. This book comes at the perfect time for someone who wants to learn and understand more about the Bible. Lots of "I never knew that" that I would never have discovered on my own. I’m glad Donald O’Dell has told his story. It’s been a gift to me and I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the Bible than we learned as kids. We’re not kids any more. This book is just in time.
Patricia Leary
This book is of much value to the serious student of Holy Scripture. It will enable the reader to view the Holy Scriptures in the context in which the books were written and arranged. It provides excellent historical background and Don's personal reflections effectively enhance his message with a glimpse of how the Holy Scripture has been integrated into his own life. Don has taken some very technical subjects and made them understandable to the average reader. Embracing and understanding message contained in HOW THE BIBLE BECAME THE BIBLE potentially forms a bridge of understanding between various faiths within the three great Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and other religions as well. It can break down barriers that need not exist and shed light on the source texts that bring peace, understanding, enlightenment, and freedom. … I am glad to have a copy of HOW THE BIBLE BECAME THE BIBLE in my library.
James J. DeFrancisco, PhD. Miltha Ministries, Mishawaka, Indiana james.j.defrancisco at gte dot net
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.
The underlying message of the book is a call for honest spirituality rather than guilt-based religiosity based on Israel’s tribal concepts of purification and sacrifice.
James J. DeFrancisco, PhD. Miltha Ministries, Mishawaka, Indiana james.j.defrancisco at gte dot net
My book study group is reading this book together. Though I am clergy and have studied scripture pretty extensively, the other members of the group are laywomen who don't have any (or much) scriptural study. We are all delighted with this book, and it is really enlightening scripture for them, providing historical and cultural context that gives us all great insight into why interpreting scripture literally impoverishes the magnificence and depth of it.
Amazon Customer
The history and mystery of the Bible have been in the literary hands of only a few people compared to the millions who do not know the true meaning of the Bible – including what it really is and what it really is not. Mr. O'Dell has done insightful research to explain simply the pure intent … of this greatly misunderstood book and how it came to be. I highly endorse and recommend O'Dell's exciting new work.
Dr. Tom Costa, Minister Emeritus and founder, Palm Desert, CA, Church of Religious Science and author of “Life: You Wanna Make Something Of It?”