RiseVibes: A Summary of the Bible: simplifying the greatest book in history by Nick Hawkes

The first striking thing about Nick Hawkes’ A Summary of the bible: Simplifying the greatest book in history is that it is about the same size as the Bible at over 450 pages thick. However, it is actually a much easier read and it does summarise and simplify the Bible, not to mention that the writing is quite sparse on the pages (the word count means it is about one-sixth the size of a full Bible). I expect that most people may not read this book from cover to cover, just like the Bible, but instead zip around and use it as a helpful overview to better understand scripture as they delve into the different books.

The beginning of each book starts with asking four or five key questions: Who wrote this book? When was it written? What type of writing is it (the question of genre being one of the most frequently misunderstood issues by modern Christians)? What does it contain or what were the main reasons it was written? When it is pertinent he also answers the question: What was happening when it was written? This is a particularly important question of historical context for books like Deuteronomy and Revelations. The book then goes on to summarise what is going on for that book of the Bible with chapters often grouped together to focus on the main flow of the narrative.

Nick Hawkes is clearly a lover of scripture and seeks to bring the reader a greater clarity in understanding what God is teaching us through his word. His summaries of chapters read like a birds-eye view, stripping away superfluous detail and focusing on the keys to it all. Often commentaries hone in on small details or disappear off on tangents but A summary of the Bible really does keep the Bible front and centre. This book rarely takes scripture and tries to put a modern spin on what it means for us now, the focus remains on helping the reader understand what was happening in the passage.

A Summary of the Bible is a helpful resource for ordinary people who would like to understand the Bible better. In many ways it is different from NIV (New International Version) study notes and commentaries. Rather than trying to provide extra knowledge on small details found in a passage it provides a broader understanding on the flow of what is going on and why that matters. Well over half of this book is about the Old Testament, so if you need something to help simplify and clarify what is going on in the Bible that Jesus read – this may be the reference tool you need. Dr Nick Hawkes may be a theologian but A Summary of the Bible is an easy-to-read overview to help everyday Christians better understand the timeless word of God. Also useful for anyone else who is interested in knowing more about the greatest book ever written.

Read how Nick came to write ‘A Summary of the Bible’ in RISE.

‘A Summary of the Bible: simplifying the greatest book in history’ is published by Rhiza Press and can be purchased at Koorong (online and instore).

Reviewer: Scott Berry