Gifted storyteller Walter Wangerin Jr. brings the characters, places, and events of scripture to life in this best-selling, narrative rendering of the entire Bible.
The first three quarters of "The book of God" deal with the Old Testament, from Abraham to the Prophets. I liked this part because of the simplicity in which it was written; Wangerin did a good job, telling a nice, sequential story. But there are some problems. He kept using endless streams of seemingly unrelated family names, and at times he tries to create parts with biblical poetic resemblance, and that didn't work for me. That's the main problem with this book: it's too flat, to linear, it lacks an author's desire of creating a unique book.
The final chapters deal with the life of Jesus. Wangerin only writes what we know it's in the Gospels. He almost doesn't extrapolate. I thought he could have dared more, writing things somewhat different from what we read in the Gospels without diverging from the story, but he didn't. Don't get me wrong, "The book of God" is not a bad book. But it's not what I expected it to be. It's not vibrant, and at times almost dull.
I'd recommend this book as one to read if you would like more understanding of biblical stories and references. Just be aware going in to it that it is not all biblical fact - read the bible along with it!!
Inexplicably, the book skips some of the great Bible stories altogether. The "sons of God" who fathered the Nephilim, precipitating the flood - not mentioned. The account of Esther - nope. Nor Naaman. Nor Job. Nor Jonah. Shadrach, Meschach and Abedndgo are on leave. Daniel in the lion's den - a no show. The handwriting on Belshazzar's wall - erased. The account of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram was apparently devoured by the editor's fire. Dinah's unfortunate incident with Shechem - not there. Nabal's rude rebuke and Abigail's averting of disaster are not mentioned. Gone is the account of a handful of David's mighty men risking their lives to boldly enter a Philistine stronghold just to get David a drink of water, and him refusing it, so angry was he at their cavalier disregard for the sanctity of human life - their own!
Of course, to put the story in novel format, there would necessarily have to be some interpolation. But the author's creativity leaves a lot of the accounts sounding very different from the Bible version. Esau's relinquishing of his birthright isn't caused by a lack of appreciation for spiritual things, its just that Jacob is a fast-talker, like a used-car salesman, bilking him as he hovers near death-by-starvation.Read more ›
But it should also be perfectly clear that this is historical fiction, or biblical fiction if you prefer. At times it is even a bit of a commentary on the Bible, but it is not the Bible, nor are some of his characterizations consistent with Christian tradition.
Personally, I think Wangerin is at his best with the Old Testament portion of his narrative. Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, David and Jonathan (not to mention Bathsheba), come to life in his telling. Wangerin has obviously done his homework, weaving in accurate images based on archeological findings, and adding vibrant personality and powerful emotions to these familiar stories.
In the New Testament portion, there were times when I felt his portrayal of the Apostles or the women, such as Mary Magdalene, were not entirely in keeping with traditional Christian understanding of these heroes of the faith.
Having said that, Wangerin has done a great service if he can interest individuals into doing their own research in the Scriptures or in early Church history.
With minor reservations, I can still recommend this "Book of God," especially in audio format.