I received a Kindle version of Mark Roncace's new God's Story: The Bible Epic from Abraham to Exile. This book is an attempt to distill the central narrative of the Hebrew Bible's earliest book—Genesis through 2 Kings—into a contemporary, abbreviated retelling. Therefore, "laborious genealogies, long lists of laws, poetry, confusing names, frustrating repetition of information, and other extraneous parts" have been removed (Kindle Locations 51-52). Roncace himself says this book is an “abridged and expanded paraphrase.” (Kindle Location 55) "Perhaps think of it as The Message Bible squared, or a children’s Bible for grown-ups." (Kindle Locations 55-56)
Roncace compares what he is doing in this book with what Christians have done throughout the years when they have repacked the Bible in "...artwork, songs, poems, movies, novels, commentaries, children’s Bibles, sermons, and so on." (Kindle Locations 81-82) The audience for such a project would be those who are attracted to the Bible, but overwhelmed by it. Roncace gives the "gist" of the canonical narrative's earliest parts. Through a modern retelling Roncace introduces readers to people like Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Moses, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, and Elijah. This book is a sampler, if you will, which the author offers in hope that the reader's appetite will be wetted so that the reader may go back to a traditional Bible with fresh eyes and newly found intrigue.
How does Roncace's rendition differ. Here's a brief side-by-side of the beginning of the "burning bush" story from Exodus 3 in the NRSV (on the left) and God's Story (on the right):
Several years ago I gifted a version of The Message to my younger brother. He was a Christian, but struggled to engage the Bible directly. Years later he reported to me that The Message was a gateway for his return to reading the Bible. In many ways, God's Story would serve the same function, but in a simpler way. God's Story is kinda, sorta the Cliff Notes of Genesis-2 Kings 25. It allows the reader to solidify their understanding of the central narrative so they can go back and read a traditional Bible knowing the skeleton, at least.
If you're wondering about the book's readability, the link above to Amazon.com allows you to read chapter 1, "The Covenant of God". If you have any further questions about Roncace's project, feel free to leave me a comment and I'll respond. I recommend God's Story for those who are interested in the Bible, but don't know where to start, or who knows someone like this.