I have always been a fan of Timothy Keller’s work. He is one of a handful of pastor/authors that can clearly and succinctly delve into scripture in a way that is not only applicable but is also scholarly. Too many books in the Christian market cater to the self-help genre of writing and do not really prove useful. Many others are so highly technically that they do not transfer well to the medium of audiobook. That said, Keller does something amazing here: He has created a verse-by-verse commentary that is both easy to listen to and is also well researched and referenced. If audiobooks are to be a regular medium for biblical commentaries in the future, Timothy Keller may well have found the format.
As I mentioned, what pleasantly surprised me was that this book was nearly verse-by-verse. Keller takes a section of text and then gives an overview of it. He then breaks it down into smaller units pointing out all the cogent points that address the overall themes and issues in the book. This offers a very straightforward structure that is easy to follow. This allows the reader to either listen straight through or to bounce around to specific sections. This makes the book not only applicable to the casual student, but it also makes it useful to the pastor writing a sermon. The easy, natural language Keller uses in not intimidating or overly technical at any point.
Keller follows his major sections with questions for the reader to think about. These focus around the major themes and sub-points of both the text and his commentary on it. Students will find these useful for recursive learning. These sections are short; however, and should not detract from the experience for the more scholarly listener. These same listeners will likely appreciate the multitude of cross-references and supporting proof-texts that Keller uses liberally throughout his writing.
Maurice England does an excellent of narrating Keller’s book. What was particularly well done was the way he varied his rate and incorporated pauses in the more complex areas of the text. A particular example would be how he would often give a short pause between verse references. I assume he did this knowing, that since this was an audio version, the listener would need time to either pause the recording and take note or (at least) make a mental note of some or all of the references. He was also able to pace himself differently between the narrative sections of the Bible and the more technical aspects provided by Keller. England and the book’s director/producer should be applauded for this attention to detail.
Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson’s blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.
A copy of the book was generously offered to Dr. Nicholson by christianaudio.com in exchange for this unbiased review.