Recently I was asked to review a book by Tyler Ellis. Tyler is the campus minister at the University of Delaware. We came into communication because I had previously linked to a post that he wrote that I appreciated.
Tyler has just published a book (I keep wanting to call it a “little book” but at 956 pages, it is anything but little) entitled, “Question Everything.” In spite of the edgy title, the book is anything but edgy.
“Question Everything” is a book of questions. The book began as his attempt to help his friends in college read the Bible. It continued to grow until it took the form that it takes today.
One of the first principles of Bible interpretation is Observation: What do you see? And Tyler helps you do that: he takes all 7,958 verses of the New Testament and asks observation questions about each verse.
My biggest frustration with the book is also its greatest strength: it doesn’t ask interpretation questions (“What does that mean?” questions). They are simply observation questions. In his Introduction, Tyler gives the example of John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.) The question for that verse is: “What did God do because He loved the world?”” That isn’t really rocket science, people…but it definitely has a place. You cannot accurately come to a conclusion about what a verse MEANS until you have accurately looked at what it SAYS. (Although there are many people who try to do just that!)
But my frustration is also a strength because Tyler doesn’t try to impose a certain view of the Bible onto the text. He simply asks: What does it say?
I believe that as helpful as that is, however,Tyler’s book would be incomplete without the second section. While he doesn’t ask Interpretation questions, he Tyler recognizes the importance of interpretation and application. On the (usually) opposing page to the list of questions for each chapter in the New Testament he has a simple form that asks four question:
What does this chapter reveal about…
What difference does it make?
There is then space for you to fill in your own thoughts on that chapter.
It is there that you begin to go from knowing facts to asking “What does it mean” and “What should I do about it”. Without that second section, I would have a hard time giving much of a recommendation to Question Everything. The world has way too many people who know what the Bible says, but who don’t do anything about it. And Tyler addresses that. It is not simply enough to Observe. You must also Interpret and Apply.
With 260 chapters in the New Testament and a purchase price of $24.95, that means that you are spending less than 10 cents per chapter to better understand the New Testament. Surely a guide to help you observe, interpret and apply what the Bible says is worth much more than ten cents per chapter.
Question Everything” is published by Dust Storm Books and is available through Amazon.com. I recommend it.