Book Review: The Bible: A Story that Makes Sense of Life By Andrew Ollerton

31 Aug 2021

By Tanwin Tanoto

Let’s be honest, the Bible is a hard and complex book to read.

The Bible is an ancient library of books rather than a single book – emphasis on ancient. These books were written in Hebrew, Greek, with some Aramaic, and with snippets of Latin. They were written by dozens of different authors across thousands of years. No wonder people get lost reading the Bible. Well, this book is an excellent tool to help us navigate the Bible and shows how the Bible is still the best book to make sense of our human story.

Just like the subtitle says, Ollerton emphasises that the Bible is a story. “The Bible is not a random collection of pious sayings or moral lessons. There is a coherent plotline from start to finish.” And the human story is part of that big story. While this book is about the Bible, this book is also about our stories, our lives, and our quest for meaning. “We humans want to feel part of a larger story that secures a deeper sense of belonging in the world.” Ollerton uses the Russian doll as a metaphor for how the big story of the Bible connects to our story. The largest doll being the human story from Genesis to Revelation. Contained inside it is the Israel story (from Genesis 12 onwards). And the smallest doll being the story of Jesus.

One of the reasons this is an excellent book is because of the format. This book is divided into six parts that connect our story: (1) Origins, and our human desire for meaning, (2) Exodus and our human quest for freedom, (3) Exile and our human cry for peace, (4) Messiah and our human need for love, (5) Spirit and our human thirst for community, and (6) Hope our human longing for home. This division makes the Bible so much clearer.

I love books on big-picture overview of the Bible, and this is one of the best. Written primarily for people who are new to the Bible, Ollerton understands his audience. Using simple words and relatable illustrations and stories, this is one of the simplest and clearest books that explains the big picture of the Bible.

Although it is a bigger book than your typical Christian book, it doesn’t read big. The chapters are short. The writing is excellent. Reading this feels like having a tour guide going through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I recommend this to everyone who wants to know the Bible more. I would even recommend this to seasoned preachers and pastors. Because while looking at the individual leaf is important, there is nothing like taking a step back and enjoying the forest’s beauty.

Read another of Tanwin’s reviews HERE.