how to read the bible [with amazement]

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

March 7, 2011

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.


  1. Laura Boggess

    This sounds AMAZING, Dan! Always looking for new and inspiring Bible commentaries. Thanks for the heads up on this one.

    • @bibledude

      This really is an amazing commentary… seriously, considering that it came from an amazing artist like Michael Card… umm, wow…

      This one is definitely worth adding to the Amazon (or other awesome book e-tailer) wishlist!

  2. Sandra Heska King

     Talk about amazing! I’ve been praying about teaching again in the fall. Leaning toward not to focus in other areas. But the book of Luke keeps coming to mind. And now this! I think I have myt answer.

  3. Anonymous

    Ah the silly rituals performed by the weak minded who are too ignorant to realize that their minds have been enslaved by this infection known as “faith”.

    It’s sad to see humans walking around so utterly mentally damaged to the points their minds would actually accept this garbage.

    And even worse.. So manipulated that you’ve actually developed, collectively, the most profound and utterly destructive case of Stockholm Syndrome the world has ever seen, as you truly love, honor, respect and obey your captors.

    When ever I have my doubts as to the survival of the human race..
    Looking to the World’s religious population does nothing to ease my mind.

    Sometimes I just think to myself… Bring on the Asteroid.
    Perhaps in another few hundred million years when the next species of dominate creatures evolves on this planet.. Hopefully they will have learned early enough to seek actual answers to their questions, rather than invent a God and use it as an explanation.

    You are truly a disappointment.. Every last one of you.

    • @bibledude

      wow… a pretty bold attack from an #atheist on a Christian blog! doesn’t surprise me that it’s anonymous. obviously this kind of comment shows that you (atwas911) know NOTHING about my faith (and that of other readers here). i used think like you, but actually found more freedom in Christianity. i actually feel sorry for you that you are so blind, and filled with enough hatred to attack people that you don’t even know… people that would probably run to your aid if you needed it. i’ll be praying for you…

      • Anonymous

        Everyone’s always praying.. praying for this.. praying for that.. praying for them..

        What a cleaver way.. To do absolutely nothing.. Yet still feel a sense of accomplishment.

        Kinda silly aint it? For a group that claims their deity is all powerful and all knowing.. knowing even your most deepest and darkest thought.. Why bother praying.. he knows everything you could possibly say even before thinking about saying it..

        I’d be careful.. for as violent and savage as his track record is according to your own sacred texts…. You don’t want to anger him by doubting his abilities by presuming the need to vocalize your prayers to him and therefore the lack of his ability to already know…

        • Anonymous

          What does your screen name “atwas911” mean?

          And, if you don’t mind me asking, why not let us believe what you think is a silly little fantasy about a God we supposedly invented?  What’s the harm in that? 

          Just curious. 

          • Anonymous

            You believe in imaginary things.. You talk to things that are not there.. You get down on your knees and beg these imaginary things to help you and grant your wishes…

            Then.. if that’s not bad enough.. You seek to force everyone to abide by the things that another clearly insane person has told you that this imaginary creature has said.. You create laws to force people into compliance with these laws then persecute and outcast anyone who does not comply.

            You’ve tortured generation upon generation of humans over the course of thousands of years. Murder, rape, mass genocide all in the name and honor of these imaginary creatures that you love and honor more than your living and breathing brothers and sisters in humanity who are truly here with you..

            You’ve managed to keep this insanity alive by psychologically torturing your children, just as you yourself was tortured by your parents before you by filling your mind with images of gods and demons and laws and the notion that these laws must be obeyed or else you will be burned alive throughout all eternity in the lakes of fire and brimstone, with nothing to look forward to in eternity except the screams and horrors of your fellow sinners as they are mutilated eternally throughout the ages..

            Teaching your offspring that they are horrible, filthy, worthless, sinners that deserved to be burned alive for all time because of a crime that they did not commit, and are guilty of for merely being born and that they can save themselves.. and all they have to do is devote their life.. their mind, their money, and most importantly their obedience to this imaginary creature.. a creature who can never speak for himself.. but only through the means of other mortals just as yourself..

            And your honestly shocked?  You can actually sit there with a straight face and attempt to play the victim card. Oh whats the harm..

            I do not say these things in an attempt to be mean, or abusive..

            But to make you think.. To hope that perhaps one day you will truly see just how horrible this infection of the mind that you call faith truly is..

            So you can see from new eyes, eyes not blinded by delusions, and superstition, and ritual just how truly devastating, you are in your current mindset to the world.

            I truly hope one day you can grow up.. Just as every child has to learn the truth about Santa, or the Easter bunny.. You too need to awake from this delusional slumber.

            At least no one has ever said that Santa has commanded that all people that should happen to stop believing in him shall be tortured for all eternity… Perhaps if he did more people would still believe in him.

          • @bibledude

            This response continues to show that you know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about what I and many other Christians believe. And you are blaming us for the actions of others who we are not responsible for. 

            And you incorrectly assume that this is something that I was forced to believe by my parents. Wrong again dude… I was an atheist once too. Until I realized how short-sighted that view was. 

          • Anonymous

            Why should that surprise you?

            “Blaming us for the actions of others who we are not responsible for”

            I would have thought you would have been all for that.. IS that NOT how your original sin has been passed down upon you?

            Through the sin of Eve.. Your all guilty?

            Oh my lil delusional friend.. You make me chuckle so.

          • Anonymous

            All The Worlds A Stage.

        • @bibledude

          And… continuing to show that you really know NOTHING about what I believe. LOL! 

          I’d be happy to have an intelligent conversation with you about this, but I don’t get the feeling that’s what you’re looking for… not when you come to someone else’s ‘house’ and attack without just cause. 

          • Anonymous

            You would be absolutely correct.

            But I will leave you with a question.. I’d think about it for awhile before you answer.

            You believe in an all powerful, and all knowing God correct? He would hardly be worthy of the title if he wasn’t.

            Q: Could your God.. “Have the ability” to create a stone large enough, that even he could not lift?

            Yes or No.

            No matter what your answer..
            My reply will always be:

            “Then why call him God.”

          • @bibledude

            LOL… yeah… you’re not going to convince me to leave the faith. I used to ask others that VERY SAME question, until I realized how ridiculous it was…

            thanks for coming by anyway…

          • Anonymous

            I never asked you to leave your faith..

            All I asked you to do was answer a yes or no question.

          • @bibledude

            …to a ridiculous question… i could do the same to you to prove my point, but i won’t… 

          • Anonymous

            I have no problem answering the question to and about myself.

            Can I.. Create a stone large enough that i could not lift..

            Yes.. I could.. I’d use concrete.

            So could you.. So could anyone..

            See.. its an easy question to answer.

            But could God?

            The reason you don’t answer, is because you cant. Because no matter what you answer, you show the flaw in the belief that your God is all powerful.

          • Rational

            I am assuming you think you are a rational person. Yet the question you are asking is irrational.

            Since nothing can be greater than God, it makes no sense to ask if He could create a stone that He couldn’t lift up. For if that could happen, then He couldn’t be God.

            What you are really asking is, “Can an infinite God create something greater than Himself?” There could be nothing greater than than which is infinite. So the answer is no, and you are not as rational as you think you are. For if you were, you wouldn’t ask such a silly question about God.    

  4. Anonymous

    I saw Michael Card in concert a few years ago–at my church for free because I never thought I’d like his music.  But his gentle way of telling amazing stories, putting them into songs, and talking about the Bible was very cool.  I will have to check this out because I need some good sources to do a study on the Gospels.  Oh, and I’m not so snobby about music anymore either.  🙂

    • @bibledude

      Yeah… this is a really good one… I think you’ll enjoy it. And contrary to what one commenter on this thread would lead you to believe, it’s extremely well done from a historical and intellectual perspective. You’ll gain some very valuable insight from this commentary!

  5. Nikole Hahn

    Sounds great! I’m always looking for a new study. Trying to figure out what one to do next…


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how to read the bible [with amazement]

by Dan King time to read: 3 min