Review: The Bible Unfiltered

35254165Michael S. Heiser is Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software. Heiser has an MA and PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an MA in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of several important books, including The Unseen Realm: Discovering the Supernatural World of the Bibleand Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers, and the Forgotten Missing of Jesus Christ. Most recently, Heiser has brought together a collection of articles intended to aid an understanding the original context of the ancient world for the purpose of offering readers an unfiltered glimpse into Bible.

The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms is divided into three parts: (1) Interpreting the Bible Responsibly, (2) Old Testament, and (3) New Testament. Each chapter is only a few pages long. So, the content is easily digestible, and the point of each chapter is clearly presented. In part one, Heiser lays the groundwork for serious Bible reading and interpretation. In many ways, the reader is challenged to remove their theological lenses and unwind from presupposed tradition. Heiser is bold enough to not sidestep the issues as he goes straight to the heart of the matter and encourages readers to read their Bible responsibly. These chapters are certainly a challenge, but foundational to the entire book. In fact, if I were to guess I think Heiser would be more than happy if everyone that looked at the book only took the time to read and practice the content in part one. The remaining two parts are simply Heiser putting such hermeneutical practices into action for readers to observe in both the Old Testament and New.

Those previously acquainted with Heiser’s approach to the Bible will certainly meet on familiar territory in The Bible Unfiltered. This is one of the greatest aspects of the book. Heiser is keen to point readers to details in the text that are overlooked. The result, not surprisingly, is always a deeper understanding and awareness of the passage or narrative. Heiser is witty and controversial at all the right times and uses such to spur readers on to a more responsible study of the Bible. Moreover, Heiser knows the primary source material of the Old Testament and ancient Near East extremely well and is up-to-date on current conversations in biblical studies for both the Old Testament and New. Still, what I appreciate most about Heiser’s work is the amount of useful information and insight that he is able to shove into a small space. That said Heiser doesn’t just force mere factoids into a chapter for the sake of doing such. The information is always relevant to the text and digestible for the average reader—though it’s true that some food does take longer to process than others.

The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms isn’t a book for the faint of heart. Sure, it’s an easy read. But, for many readers, I think it will be paradigm shifting. Take time with it and be sure to test where Heiser takes you. It’s a journey well worth taking and The Bible Unfiltered is a great guide, as long as you take to heart Heiser’s call to read the Bible more responsibly. Whatever you do don’t remain trapped by tradition. Not that the filters of tradition are inherently wrong or misguided. But, the Bible just looks better unfiltered. Indeed, it is the unfiltered reading of the Bible that should become the foundation for all other filters.

The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms by Michael S. Heiser is superb. It comes highly recommended alongside his previous work of similar caliber and strength, I Dear You Not to Bore Me with the Bible.                 

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