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What's the Good Word?
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Ann Monroe
The Word:  Imagining the Gospel in Modern America (Louisville, Ky:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.  217p.)

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The author reports on and analyzes the way various churches and other Christian settings view the Bible, study it and use it in life.  I found very interesting the contrast of four congregations in Colorado Springs.

The author attends church Bible classes, worship services and seminary course classes, then interviews various participants or leaders, for a rich, insightful perspective on the role of the Bible in the life of American Christians of various persuasions and backgrounds.

She reports her thoughts and observations while in these settings.  This enables the reader to "participate" in the event, and enter into her analysis.  The personal contexts of the comments or questions that arise in each class are instructive.

The overall effect of this compilation and analysis is to provide a dynamic real-life picture of how the Word of God connects with individual and communal daily lives.  What constitutes the communication, where connection points occur, how the insight arises and is appropriated.  How differently the Word of a particular occasion is received by different individuals.  How two perceptions from individuals in the same class differ depending on their personal background and situation.

This volume has value as a popular cultural analysis, informing us of both the life context and the theology "on the street" (or in the class).  Most readers will gain value also from the personal devotional opportunity this provides for the reader to evaluate their own situation and engagement with the Word of God.

These vignettes and reflections present an occasion for each of us to consider what we understand that term "Word of God" to mean – not just in theoretical terms, but in life terms.  Another way of stating the focus is to ask, "What constitutes "good news" (gospel) to each of these individuals and their communities?"  This thoughtful but readable book will help us see the cross-cultural character of the communication needed to makes sense to those who need to hear the Good News.

The book also provides comment on the state of ferment and confusion in the broad mix of American culture, and how some churches are engaging that situation in practical ways, through these group settings involving very different individuals who find themselves together seeking a Word from God.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] More Oral than We Knew:  The Oral Nature of the Gospels
[review] Oral Greek Styles in Paul's Writings
[Review] Postmodernism – The Church's Challenge and Opportunity
[Review] Regaining Credibility for Christianity
[Review] The Shack:  a Realization of Relationship and Revelation

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First reading notes written 17 January 2005
Review posted on Amazon 30 July 2005
Rewritten and expanded for OJTR 24 February 2009
Last edited 6 March 2009

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2009 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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