There was likely a period after Paul’s conversion to Christianity when he spent considerable time studying the Scriptures (The Law and the Prophets). As a Pharisee, he would have had an extremely high level of knowledge regarding the Word of God. But until his Damscus Road experience it would have been mere head knowledge without the full revelation of Christ.
Now being full of revelation, wisdom, and the Holy Spirit… I imagine that reading the Scriptures would have been a whole new experience for Paul. He would have started to see Jesus throughout the accounts recorded in Genesis. He would have heard His voice in the Psalms. And he would have seen Him revealed through the foreshadowing of the Prophets. The Scriptures would have suddenly come alive like never before!
There are few things as exciting as reading the Bible with a fresh set of eyes. I imagine Paul would have been amazed at the new life that he found in the Word.
That’s exactly what Michael Card has done with his latest project Luke: The Gospel of Amazement (Biblical Imagination Series, IVP). This is a unique Bible commentary that journeys through the mind of one of the greatest (musical) artists of our time. This first book in the series focuses on the Gospel According to Luke… who coincidentally was a contemporary of the same Paul who experienced the Word with that fresh revelation.
Card challenges the reader to take the same approach that he’d been taught:
“We must learn to read the Bible at the level of the informed imagination.”
The imagination part of this statement gives the reader permission to think through what is said, as well as what is not said. But the informed part of this statement implies that there is a responsibility to not stray from the original intent of the text. Card continues by talking about the questions that the Biblical reader can/should ask of the text:
We absorbed the primary sources for ourselves: Suetonius, Eusebius, Tacitus, Josephus and the rest . We learned to ask the same sort of questions he might ask of the text: “Why is this detail there?” “What does it mean?” “How would the first hearers of this document have understood this?” “Why did the writer leave that out?” In time, on our own, we would learn to ask even better questions… questions of our own.
Card is a Dove Award-winning musician who’s known for writing songs that “stem from intensive study of the Bible” (source: Wikipedia). And it’s with the mind of an artist that he attacks the Gospel of Luke, and the reader walks away with a fresh perspective that’s sure to inspire… as he does with his music.
This is the kind of Bible commentary that I not only find useful for study, but also for casual devotional reading. Card’s approach continues to ignite a passion in me for studying the Word! It’s this kind of study that causes the Bible to transform a life, in very much the same way that I imagine Paul would have been changed by a Bible filled with fresh revelation.
Note: This review was written for the Patheos Book Club on Holy Imagination.