Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Book Review: The American Patriot's Bible, NKJV Translation

The American Patriot's Bible (New King James Version) is Thomas Nelson's latest venture into the world of thematic study Bibles.  It has a minimal set of maps, a good concordance, a brief introduction for each book of the Bible, and a large number of essays and reflections purportedly connecting the Bible and American history.  

From a purely physical book-making standpoint, this is a nice Bible.  It has thicker than average paper for a study Bible, a decently large typeface and it looks like a durable book.  It's really too bad that such a nicely designed Bible wasn't matched with quality of content:  as a Christian study Bible, it fails on both counts.  

First off, aside from the "patriot's" material, there are virtually no study elements at all.  No biblical cross-references.  No footnotes aside from the NKJV's translators' notes.  No charts or timelines.  A shameful dearth of maps.  The introductions to each book give considerably less historical and theological context for the book than the equivalent Wikipedia articles.

Secondly, it fails to be Christian.  Michael Horton would call it Christless.  You want a Bible for Moralistic Therapeutic Deism?  Legalism?  This is it.  Its essays emphasize such traditional American values as hard work and our accountability to God.  There is plenty to encourage the idea that what God wants from us is to work harder.  There is nothing here for the broken, repentant sinner, aware of his own inadequacy, whose desperate hope is to fall at the foot of the cross and find grace.

What then of the patriotic elements?  The glowing biographies of people honoring God for their American success, the vaguely spiritual, inspirational quotes scattered throughout, the multiple glossy inserts attempting to sketch out all of American history and tie it to the Biblical narrative?  All I can say is that I found it all as dubious in its history as its theology.  This flag-waving, Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul-ish pass at a study Bible is best left on the shelf at the Christian bookstore.

1 comment:

jaigner said...

Wonderful review. This work nearly makes me physically ill. God forgive us for the mockery we've made of his Kingdom.