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book of God [Paperback]

Walter Wangerin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 29 1998
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.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

"This is not the Bible," Wangerin (The Book of the Dun Cow; Miz Lil and the Chronicles of Grace; etc.) says of this newest work. But it is a novel featuring many of the Bible's most dramatic characters. He partitions the whole into eight parts: half focus on personalities (The Ancestors, Kings, Prophets, The Messiah), and half concern themselves with epic themes (The Covenant, The Wars of the Lord, Letters From Exile, The Yearning). Retelling the stories of the Bible in novelized form allows Wangerin to be more selective: no slogging through seemingly endless genealogies or the minutiae of military conflicts for him. Instead, he imagines the finer points of the tension between Sarah and her slave, Hagar; the words Isaac might have used in blessing Jacob; or the drama of Jesus's baptism by his cousin, John. In doing so, he also makes some curious inventions. Does Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, become a justifiably more interesting character, for instance, if he is presented as willingly making nails for the evil ruler Herod to use in crucifixions? For adult readers who are intimidated by the sheer bulk of the Bible, or for those who desire a novelist's different perspective on some very familiar stories, Wangerin is likely to be a welcome voice; for others, however, the novel will feel like an ornate but pale imitation of a great book.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Renowned storyteller Wangerin (Ragman and Other Cries of Faith, HarperSanFrancisco, 1994) here selects portions of the biblical narrative for retelling to a contemporary audence. Ever the raconteur, Wangerin evokes the deep and powerful emotions that motivate all human behavior. Yet rich as these retellings sometimes are, many of his characters lack even the depth with which they are presented in the biblical acccounts. Unfortunately, Wangerin's "novel" reduces the power of the Bible's multidimensional characters to the flatness of much of today's most popular spiritual fiction. Buy only where Wangerin is popular.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
AN OLD MAN entered his tent, dropping the door flap behind him. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Wangerin could have dared more May 24 2004
"The book of God" is not, as other reviewers have stated, the Bible as a novel. What Walter Wangerin did here was to re-tell some (not all) of the central stories depicted in the Bible, to transform it in an easier and more undersandable reading.
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.
Grade 6.8/10
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Bible as a Novel - NOT Dec 24 2003
I read the book because I enjoy comparing different translations of the Bible, but way too many liberties are taken with the Bible narrative to qualify for the sub-title THE BIBLE AS A NOVEL. It has some good points - it flows well, and reads easily. Certain Bible stories are brought to life and fleshed out, with a good feel for the climate, topography and geography of the Bible lands. But when you read it, have a literal translation of the Bible handy, along with a comprehensive concordance, and a good Bible encyclopedia.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vibrant portrayal of biblical personalities May 17 2003
Format:Audio Cassette
Make no mistake, Walter Wangerin is an amazing storyteller. I am referring to the audio version of his "Book of God," which he reads with animation and liveliness.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible in a chronological novel format March 12 2003
One of the more common problems for Christians is that they learn the Bible stories but don't really learn how each of the stories are related to one another in terms of time and sequence. For example the book of Second Samuel covers roughly the same time period as First Chronicles, Second Chronicles covers pretty much the same period as First and Second Kings. How were all of these people and events related on a consistent time scale across the various books?
"The Book of God" is very effective in resolving this problem by taking all the Bible stories and putting them in chronological order. The author then rewrites them in the style of a contemporary novel. While this may not be appropriate for exegetical Biblical study it is extremely valuable if you want to truly understand the Bible as a whole. The author takes many liberties in writing but they are well-researched and based on historical knowledge. For example, he starts with Abraham with the words "An old man entered his tent, dropping the door flap behind him. In the darkness he knelt slowly before a clay firepot, very tired...... The man's face was lean and wounded and streaked with the dust of recent travel. He began to unroll a straw mat for sleeping but paused halfway, lost in thought." Obviously we don't know that Abraham ever did this or looked like this, but it is all consistent with the normal lifestyle of nomadic travelers of the time.
Again, it is not for determining doctrinal positions but an enjoyable novel that is not only a pleasurable read but also brings the various stories of the Bible together into a complete picture. It is a very highly recommended read.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This book is wonderful. Wangerin does a fantastic job of the Old Testament here (although he does take a few liberties with what Hebrews would have looked like - red hair? Read more
Published 20 months ago by kt
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but NOT the Bible as a novel.
The Book of God is, as many others have stated, an interesting read and good for the sake of bringing some to read biblical acocunts in a nonthreatening manner. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2004 by "erinhielkema"
4.0 out of 5 stars It's worth reading.
I don't know about you, but I would get confused everytime I tried to read the bible since it was not in chronilogical order. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2002 by Sandra L Wilcox
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study tool for new Christians
What I found especially helpful about this book was the flow of the story, especially when dealing with the Old Testament. Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2002 by Rainne Dempsey
5.0 out of 5 stars First time I have been able to read the Bible,
I can't seem to put this book down. I am not an overly religious person. For years I have tried unsuccessfully to read the Bible. Read more
Published on May 9 2002 by Jo A. Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars Comes to life!
As I began reading The Book of God, Walter Wangerin began to paint pictures before my very eyes. Before I knew it I had been transported to another land and another time. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2002 by Michael Ezell
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Bible Interpretation
This book starts out kind of slow. If you know the Bible at all, like I do, you will get frustrated at first that the author doesn't use more imagination in delving into the lives... Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2001 by Tonya Eza
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Read!
I loved the easy-to-read style of this book. For anyone who's fought the frustration of trying to read the Bible chronologically, this is the answer! Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible Comes to Life
I am no stranger to the Bible, the original, actual Book of God!
Having read the Bible through and through, I'm familiar with the message, the stories, the principles and... Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2001 by Diane Cudo
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