After coming to faith as an adult, outside of any structured church teaching, I stumbled around for a few years before I felt like I had a grasp on the basic doctrines of Christianity. I painstakingly pieced together bits of information I gleaned as I read the scriptures, cobbling together what I’d learned, going through periods of deep confusion and misunderstandings. I could have avoided so much of that if I’d had a copy of A Family Guide to the Bible by Christin Ditchfield.
Providing an entry-level overview and examination of the Bible, both as a whole, and book-by-book, Ditchfield has written a resource that is invaluable both for new Christians and those entering into times of family devotion and worship for the first time. A particular blessing to “first generation” Christians, Ditchfield clearly illuminates the thread of the gospel throughout Old Testament and New.
Ditchfield opens with a history of the Bible — dividing the 66 books into the typically held categories: Poetry, Historical, Prophetic ,etc. — and also touches briefly upon the Apocryphal books. While not in-depth by any stretch of the imagination, this taste of the Bible’s background is enough to get new Bible readers on their way. The authority of the Bible is then discussed in a separate short chapter, before delving into a broad-picture overview of the entire body of scripture.
Each book of the Bible then receives its own guide, containing some of the elements found in a good introduction (typically found in study Bibles) and some unique inclusions as well. Each book is introduced with a basic outline: The Book, The Author, The Audience, The Setting, and The Story. The next section — The Message — is incredibly valuable, summarizing the contents of the book. This section is replete with chapter and verse references built into the text itself for easy reference and is explicitly Christ-oriented, always keeping the gospel in mind as the book is read.