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Book: Devote Yourself to the Public Reading of Scripture

Today’s Book is brought to you by Kregel Publishing’s Academic & Ministry Division. They sent me a coffee cup once, but I’m not drinking out of it while I do this review to make sure there is no bias in the process. As is frequent: free book in exchange for writing an unbiased review.

When I first start writing book reviews, I treated them like we were graded on the Customer Service Survey at Chick-fil-A: anything less than 5-stars was a failure. Since then, I have shifted my grading scale: 3-stars means the book accomplished what it set out to do, but was not spectacular, 4-stars stands out a little, and 5-stars is an outstanding work. 3-star meets the need, 4-star exceeds the need, and 5-star meets all relevant needs and most relevant wants.

So, now, a 5-star book coming across my desk is rare. It has to be a book that either greatly exceeds all other books I know on the matter or one that finally addresses a need. And it has to be a real need. Someday I will write my Theology of Robotics book, but I doubt that will meet any real need, except for some Data somewhere.

Devote Yourself/Public Reading/Scripture: The Transforming Power of the Well-Spoken WordToday, though, one is on my desk that addresses what I have felt as a need in many churches and Christian lives. That book is Devote Yourself to the Public Reading of Scripture by Jeffrey D. Arthurs. Dr. Arthurs is Professor of Preaching and Communication at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, where I would have gone to school if I could have stomached living in Massachusetts. (Well, if I could have afforded the medical insurance, actually.)

In Devote Yourself to the Public Reading of Scripture, Arthurs presents his case that the Bible needs to attain a more central role in our corporate gatherings as churches. By this, he does not mean we are neglecting Biblical Theology or even a commitment to know the Bible. His point is this: we do not spend enough of our effort in the simple practice of presenting the plain Word of God.

The typical Evangelical church service, which is his (and my) primary experience, devotes very little time to reading the Bible aloud. Arthurs presents that part of our problem is that when we do read the Word, we do not read it well. Devote Yourself first addresses the “why” question, and then delves into guidelines for “how” the Word can be read, and read well.

I like this book. Arthurs presents very basic oral interpretation guidelines on reading Scripture in public. Devote Yourself does not push the far envelope on being dramatic, though a few basic reader’s theatre type ideas are presented at the end. The overall thrust is this: learn to read aloud and learn to read aloud well.

The included DVD shows demonstration of technique and provides almost all one needs to have an oral interpretation class focused on Scripture. This moves the book from “I read it, and I think I get it,” to “Ah! I read it, I see it, and I can do it.”

In all, this is a practical little book that I hope finds its way into more hands. If we will begin to read Scripture well, then people will respond as I was told when I suggested we should start a sermon series by taking a Sunday and just reading through all of one short Biblical book: “That will be too boring.” Scripture should never be presented in a boring manner: either in explanation or in reading.

I highly recommend this one. It’s good for preachers. It would be great for middle/high school students who need to get started in Public Speaking practice. Get a copy.

Free book in exchange for the review. No, I don’t get a cut if you buy 1 for every pastor, homeschooler, and speaker you know. But you should do it anyway.

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