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Book Review: John Bunyan

Book review time!  Today, thanks to the good graces of the Booksneeze program, you'll be learning about the book John Bunyan from Thomas Nelson's Christian Encounters Series.  What's it look like, you ask?  Here you go:

John Bunyan (Christian Encounters Series)

This book, which was provided free in exchange for the review, is linked above on Amazon, which is an affiliate link, all of which is discussed at length in Disclosures! 

So, John Bunyan, by Kevin Belmonte is today.  First, I've never read any other biography of Bunyan.  I only recently finished reading Pilgrim's Progress, which is a missing piece of life I'm glad to have filled in this year.  Since all I know about Bunyan is that he wrote Pilgrim's Progress and that he was in prison for 12 years when he wrote it, I'm not qualified to comment on Belmonte's historical accuracy.  I'm going to assume that, as a Thomas Nelson book, the editors didn't let it out without historical fact-checking, all the facts are accurate.

As such, I'll address book format and readability while assuming Belmonte knows his revolutionaries from his royalists. 

Belmonte begins his work by providing some of the historical background to the time period of Bunyan's life.  This is a strength of this work.  Many biographies fail to adequately develop the reader's understanding of the world in which their subject person lived.  Belmonte does a good job with this.

Also done well is the pacing of the book.  Belmonte does not plod about while telling the story of Bunyan's life.  If there is any complaint related to the pacing of the story, it is too quick.  This is likely due to the book's size.

The book is pocket-sized.  Well, I don't know if that's the official description, but it fits well in a suit-coat pocket or a jacket pocket.  The overall page count is 196, counting index, prologue, and everything.  As such, not everything about Bunyan's life can fit.  It just cannot.  My life is mostly dull, and I doubt that you could write my own life story, including background on contemporary events,  in 196 pages without leaving out parts.

The main criticism the book might draw is that Belmonte doesn't spend much time on the depths of Bunyan's spiritual walk.  This is true.  However, this is a strength of the work.  We have a tendency to apply the 'halo' effect on heroes of the Christian faith.  In Bunyan, we have a great hero: a Baptist preacher sent to jail for preaching!  His faith and doctrine must be great!  Belmonte does a good job digging beneath the halo to provide a more earth bound picture.  This is still a little disappointing, because if a person unfamiliar with Bunyan's faith read it, they wouldn't know the depth of his faith.

However, all in all, this book is worth reading.  It won't take very long, and will open the reader's eyes to the historical situation of Bunyan's life.  I'd certainly recommend a longer, more in-depth treatment of Bunyan's life and theology for further understanding, but you've got to start somewhere.  Here's a good place.

 

Doug

Once again, free book, unbiased review.  Check out BookSneeze's program for details.

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