Guide to Understanding the Bible
By Kendell H. Easley
In this book (“GUB”), Easley reduces the KJV of the Bible to a third grade level of graphics and prose, giving ever so brief comments on each of the 39 and 27 books of the Old and New Testaments, respectively. The best that can be said of GUB is that it gives handy summaries (a short paragraph) of each of the 66 books. He attempts to summarize “God’s Message” for each book as well, but his creative interpretations aren’t necessarily edifying. Oddly, while the author clearly seeks to communicate the basics about the Bible in the least possible words, he assumes vast knowledge on countless subjects, often leaving the uninformed reader hopelessly lost. Further, there is no flow or continuity – such as given by Sol Scharfstein in his Torah Tranlation, which includes a running commentary that links the books of the Torah together, making them almost seemless. Worst of all, Easley lacks scholarship; e.g., he includes no word references in the back, to help the reader find things by topic or name, and he doesn’t cite his reference materials or make any attempt to support his conclusions. So, he forces his readers to flip back and forth in search of linking data. In short, Easley is not a good teacher.
He speaks with authority, but his facts are often flat wrong, e.g., claiming that the OT was written in Hebrew, when, in fact, almost all of it was written in Aramaic and later translated to Greek (about 350 BC), long before it was translated into Hebrew, because the Jews didn’t speak Hebrew as a rule. Unfortunately, Easley’s graphics (maps, etc.) omit some of the most fascinating parts of Biblical history, such as the course of Moses’ wanderings for 40 years. Conversely, he includes some interesting data: e.g., in Judges, there were 12 judges (six major and six minor), one of whom was a woman, Deborah, and he notes the parallel with the 12 Tribes of Israel. Interestingly, he notes the Jesus had “brothers” or “half-brothers”, naming Jude and James as two (GUD, p. 393 et seq).
GUD gives a helpful chronology of the Bible; it attempts to date the events that it discusses, something that publishers of Christian Bibles stopped doing almost 100 years ago. As I possess some Bibles from the 1800’s, I, too, can date the events, at least to the extent that the publishers of these old Bibles are correct. Roughly, Easley’s dates comport with my old Bibles. Holman has added to our data base and given us another good reference book for our collection on those relating to the Christian Bible.