Tuesday 6 March 2007
From Abraham to (the other) Joe Jr.
Quick, March 13 will be on us in just over a week's time, and it'll then be too late to pick up the special issue of US News & World Report entitled Mysteries of Faith: The Prophets at the news stands.
Here, in magazine format, condensed into 88 pages, is a primer on the prophets with a line-up of contributors that includes Jonathan Kirsch, Bruce Feiler, Bart Ehrman and Karen Armstrong. Don't be put off by the cover, which is obviously not designed with COG sensibilities in mind. This is a great introduction to the historical figures who loom so large in the Bible. Beyond this familiar territory there are articles on Islam's Quran and yes, even the world's most boring and derivative volume, the Book of Mormon.
So many people dive straight into the ravings of modern-day expositors, trumpeting some kind of "inside knowledge" - tithes and love offerings gratefully accepted. Instead, why not take a deep breath first and get the low down from these guys. The real story of the prophets is quite different from the impression you get listening to proof-texts on Saturday, or reading Tomorrow's World.
Articles focus on Abraham, Moses, David ("Playboy of the Ancient World"), and characters like Elijah, the Isaiahs (yes Virginia, there was more than one), Jeremiah et al. Then there's Jesus and Paul. For a little contrast, try the articles on Muhammad and Joseph Smith. A painless, cult-free education for a modest price. As is always the case, some articles are better than others, but on balance this single issue will do a lot more for your theological IQ than a year's worth of Greg Albrecht's Plain Truth (or a two year stack of Good News magazines).