Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Bible in World History by Dr. Stephen Leston

“This book focuses on events that took place in world history while the events of the Bible unfolded.” (5) “...[T]he events of the world are not separate from the events recorded in Scripture.” (9) The author does not intend to solve all the historical mysteries (such as issues of dates) but to connect the events of world history to the events of the Bible.
An underlying assumption is that “God is the God of all history.” (6) “As we study the fullness of history unfolding before us, we can see God at work in the world, carrying out His plan for the ages.” (8)
Abraham's rejection of a polytheistic religion in Ur sets the stage for the creation account. That all mankind was created in the image of God and is descended from one couple has important ramifications. The first sin gives us important insight into the condition of society today. (The murder of Able murder could have been later in Cain's life. There might have been 120,000 people on the earth in 800 years.) Industry, trade, language, writing and the development of religion are addressed. The authors continue with the violent nature of civilization at the time of Noah, then the implications of the Tower of Babel.
The developed culture or Ur, from which Abram came, is shown as is the society in Egypt. Next is the sophisticated culture of Canaan during the Bronze Age, the time of Abraham's migration, and the contemporary Code of Hammurabi.
Archaeological discoveries revealing information about the conquest era are covered, including the religion of the Canaanites. The rule in Egypt during the Israelite enslavement is briefly considered, as are changes in India and Greece.
The shifts in world powers during the existence of the nation of Israel are examined “to see how God interacted in the midst of them with the nation of Israel for His redemptive purpose.” (95) During the time of David was the Mayan civilization in the Americas and the rise of the Zhou dynasty in China. The Assyrians and Babylonians, were influential during the divided kingdom. Sparta, Athens, Pythagoras, the development of Buddhism, the Medes and Persians (with added emphasis on the Persian empire and the story of Esther), Confucius, Sun Tzu, the influence of Greek thought, the transition from Greeks to Romans and the inter-testamental history, and the expansion of the church are all explored.

This is not a scholarly work. Do not expect discussions on details, such as the date of the Exodus. This book records the overall work of God in history. It is aimed, I think, at the relatively new Christian. It will make a nice coffee table book but is not suitable for intense study on any particular aspect of the Bible and world history.
There are lots of full page color pictures, maps, and time lines. (I am not sure of the purpose for some pictures, as a full page spread on The Art of War by SunTzu, or the full page photo of a statue of Aristotle, or the full page photo of the bust of Pericles, or the full page photo of the bronze doors in the Roman senate, or Hannibal.)
At the end of each major section is a reflection as to the relevance of the previous information to Christians and how they live in the world today.

Leston's prayer is that we would have a bigger view of God after reading this book. His encouragement: “Therefore, let us take hope in the power of our God and the promise that history is moving toward the establishment of His King.” (91)

Barbour Publishing, 288 pages.

I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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