Livingstone Corporation has released its new daily devotional titled The Best of the Bible - 365 must-read Bible passages. In reviewing it, I had to firstly work out who its target audience is and that is not easy.
In a nutshell, it appears as though Livinstone has sought to capture a slice of the 'read the entire Bible in one year' market, but here's the angle; the publishers obviously believe they have discovered a market of Bible readers who do not have the stamina (or time) to get through the whole Bible.
In the publisher's own words,
Instead of reading every verse of the Bible, the approach taken here is designed to help you get a flavor of the whole Bible by reading selections from it throughout the year.
So, the idea is you read the highlights of the Bible in one year, dropping certain parts of it based purely on the subjective criteria of the publishers. I guess they are trying not to say they have dropped all the dull bits!
My first attempt at using the book was at the classic family after-dinner devotions. My family instantly found the amount of text being read higher than normal. This could perhaps mean we don't read enough of the Bible, but I think it is fair to say this book offers more Bible text per day than the average daily devotion I have seen.
On the other hand, I found the devotional comments at the bottom rather brief. On a few days, all you get is three to four lines. This, I admit, leaves more room for Bible text which is the goal of the exercise, but when you are reading a daily devotional, you cannot help but look for some meaty application to go with it.
My children wanted to answer a few questions after the reading, but the comments at the bottom didn't really ask any. They were no more than thought provokers. I conclude therefore that this is definitely not a book for post-dinner family devotions.
This is probably no bruise to the publisher's ego because I suspect families were not the target audience. Most likely it is Christians who simply cannot get through the whole Bible in a year, but feel like picking the eyes out of it.
This is a good book and if you like to be guided to helpful passages of the Bible to read, this could be the one for you. Each day you have printed before you at least 20 verses of the Bible (you do not actually need your Bible when using this book) and then a few brief comments underneath.
I can't help thinking that considering how brief the comments are, all you really need is the Scripture reference and you could do the rest yourself, but I guess it has the advantage of being an all-in-one book which could be of benefit when travelling lightly.
It is not, however, a high quality production. It is a paperback and printed on off-white, rough paper which helps explain its low price.
A warning to sticklers about translations: this book uses the New Living Translation, which is a paraphrase. Therefore you will get things like, "Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others" (NLT) instead of "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit" (NIV). If that suits you, then this might be a handy edition to your Library.
Finally a word about the devotional comments themselves. As I indicated before, I found them to be slightly too brief, but as for orthodoxy, there was no problem at all. The comments were life applicaiton in full swing and I found many of them helpful. There were even a couple of real nuggest in there, but not enough to make me implore you to buy it.
The Best of the Bible may just have found a niche in the already burgeoning devotional book market. It is for Christians who like to have their Scriptures and devotional comments together in the one volume, with an emphasis on the amount of time spent reading Scripture.
Available from WORD (a direct link to "The Best of the Bible")
(CHRISTIAN FAITH is a non-commercial site. Some companies very kindly donate products to us to be reviewed - at our invitation. Our reviews are our opinions; written in terms of how useful a product may be to you.)