Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review of The Beginning and The End by Michael W. Pahl

The Beginning and the End: Rereading Genesis's Stories and Revelation's Visions
Michael W. Pahl
ISBN 978-1-60899-927-9
Cascade Books: An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Perhaps no two books of the Bible cause a greater amount of controversy than the book of Genesis, and the book of Revelation. In the book of Genesis, people spend an inordinate amount of time discussing matters relating to how literally one should read the creation stories, and the first three chapters of the book. Regarding the book of Revelation, there are a number of ways of interpreting the text, many of which have to do with a detailed timeline of the end times. People argue about whether they are pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, pre-millenial, amillenial, and they also argue about much more.

Michael Pahl, in his book The Beginning and the End: Rereading Genesis's Stories and Revelations's vision challenges its readers to begin to look at each of these texts through a broader lens. Pahl challenges us to look at what the Bible is saying in Genesis about who we are, who God is, what life and death mean, and what our basic needs are in relationship to God, the world, and one another. In Revelation, we are challenged to understand what the goal and direction of humanity is, and what the God's ends are in relationship to humankind. In pointing to The Beginning and the End, this book encourages believers in Jesus to see their lives and Scripture as one great, powerful, life-giving and life-transforming narrative that is pregnant with meaning from start to finish.

I enjoyed this book very much. It was academic, but it was neither inaccessible or stuffy. Pahl has a grace-filled way of communicating what he wants to say, and this tone guides this book from cover to cover. The introduction makes clear what is going on in the entire book when it says, "If you have ever wondered if there might be more to Genesis than fuel for anti-evolutionism, then this book might be for you. Or if you have ever thought, 'Revelation has to be more than simply a roadmap for the future of the Middle East, then perhaps you will find this book just what you are looking for (p. ix). I had wondered and thought these things often, so this little text was a perfect brief theological journey for me.

The Beginning and the End is a  book, with the right group, would be a good six week study. It might also be a good guide for a sermon series for many pastors, such as myself.

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