Review: Illustrated Bible Survey

17414742Ed Hindson is dean of the School of Divinity and distinguished professor of Religion at Liberty University. Hindson has a Th.D. from Trinity Graduate School of Theology, a D.Min. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a D.Phil. from University of South Africa. Hindson is the author, co-author, or editor of numerous books and articles. Elmer L. Towns is the president of Elmer Towns Ministries and the co-founder of Liberty University. Towns has a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary and has received six honorary doctoral degrees for various contribution in the field of religion and education. Towns is the author of over 100 books and over 1000 articles. Most recently, Hindson and Towns have co-authored a useful revision of their popular-level Illustrated Bible Survey: An Introduction

Illustrated Bible Survey has the same goal as Hindson and Towns establish in the classroom, to “challenge [students] academically, inspire them spiritually, and motivate them effectively to discover and apply the great truths and practical wisdom of the Bible in providing them with a biblical basis for the Christian worldview” (p. xi). Hindson and Towns have provided a college-level textbook that is both accessible to students and laymen alike. The book covers the entire Bible and introduces the basic content of each book, such as the authorship, the background, the message, and the application of the book. Hindson and Towns also provide an outline of each book, include various reflection excerpts throughout, and a for further reading section that allows the reader explore more broadly. There are also study questions at the end of each book that provide an excellent basis for group discussion or personal review.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the Illustrated Bible Survey (especially for those not required to purchase this book for class) is the over 200 full-color maps, charts, photographs, and illustrations. B&H does an exceptional in this space and the reader will appreciate the level of detail that goes into this aspect of the book. The maps and charts are especially useful. The content itself is good and will be useful for laymen, but it is far from exhaustive of the larger narrative of biblical scholarship. That is, while Hindson and Towns have provided a solid survey of the Bible, there is a seeming lack of interaction with other traditions or theological positions. The reader will get a narrow Baptist, dispensational-leaning survey of the Bible. This is evident in both the content and the suggested resources for further reading, and a major shortcoming of the book—especially since the format of the book only affords assumption and not serious interaction. It’s a helpful survey, but it’s not without its limitations.

Illustrated Bible Survey: An Introduction by Ed Hindson and Elmer L. Towns is an easy-to-read and informative volume. While limitations on the volume do not allow for the engagement that some readers will want, Hindson and Towns have provided a survey faithful to what students at Liberty University (specifically undergraduate students) will need. Everyone else looking to this volume as a potential purchase will likely be drawn to the visual appeal, and in that arena the publishers have provided something wonderful. If your a dispensational-leaning Baptist looking for something safe to use for Sunday School, then this volume will fit the bill well on all fronts. I take the latter without the former and still found it helpful, and I think most readers will as well.

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