“Try it, you’ll like it!” In a consumer age, a version of this old advertising line calls spiritual seekers to read the Bible.
Taste and See invites readers to engage with the Bible and be introduced to God, “whom the Bible is all about.” This 53-page book, co-published by the Canadian Bible Society and Scripture Union Canada, “provides an overview of the main Bible story, identifies the key themes in the Bible, asks questions to open doors of discovery, and encourages the reader to take the first steps in a spiritual pilgrimage.”
The introductory section identifies different genres within the Bible, provides a rationale for the thematic approach to the book, instructs readers how to use the book in a complementary fashion to the Bible itself, and imparts wisdom for how to navigate the Bible.
Then it outlines twelve stories explored individually in the rest of the book that provide an overview of the biblical narrative:
- Why is there suffering? (Job 1:1–2:10)
- Life with purpose (Genesis 1:1–2:3)
- The Promise (Genesis 17:1–27)
- Freedom! (Exodus 12:1–14:31)
- At last, a king! (2 Samuel 7)
- The birth! (Luke 2:1–19)
- Stories that bite (Luke 15)
- Plots and Twists (Luke 22:66–23:56)
- Not the end! (John 20:1–31)
- Still with us! (Acts 2:1–41)
- No breakups (1 Corinthians 13:1–11)
- The goal (1 Corinthians 15)
In each chapter, author Annabel Robinson of Scripture Union explores the passage by means of an introductory section, summary (contextualized), explanation, application, suggested reading, and background information on relevant people, events, and concepts.
Robinson addresses her target audience (i.e., people unfamiliar with the language and storyline of the Bible) well through her accessible writing style. She should be commended for her concise, clear, and constructive insights on each passage, even though many helpful and important points went untouched in her exploration of each passage.
Following the twelve chapters, an epilogue describes how to become a Christian, and suggested next steps upon completion of the book.
One strength of Taste and See was the encouragement for those who have prayed a prayer of repentance to join a local church as a part of their spiritual journey. While I would have appreciated more discussion on the cost and all-encompassing nature of following Jesus as Lord, I was encouraged by the challenge for the reader to engage in Christian community as the next step of following Jesus.
One noticeable weakness was the aversion to discussing human sin and the wages of sin. Robinson mentions the origin of human sin as described in Genesis 3 as a part of “further reading” in chapter two (p.15), but does not include human sin as one of the main themes of the Bible. The decision to avoid discussing human sin directly was likely made out of an impulse to not address something that has the potential to offend the reader before completion of the book. A definition of human sin preceding the Bible exploration would have better served Taste and See.
Every word invested in encouraging people to meditate on the Bible is well spent. The team at Scripture Union and Canadian Bible Society should be commended for the work they do for the sake of the kingdom. Taste and See may be a valuable resource for people seeking to help friends begin their journey of investigating the Bible; however, my impression is that such an audience may be narrow in scope.
Taste and See was designed to help expose people to the story of the Bible and to instruct how to read the Bible. In my opinion, more helpful resources to understand the main story of the Bible are The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson, and the video series Christianity Explored, while How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart can help a friend learn how to understand the Bible.
This resource is likely most helpful for someone with a religious background (Christian in particular), rather than someone questioning whether God (or “the gods”) exist. Taste and See is not a clear evangelistic resource because of the lack of discussion on human sin and the necessity of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Furthermore, the book does little to instruct readers how to understand the Bible for themselves once they are finished reading Taste and See.
—Greg Harris is director of local missions at Northview Community (MB) Church, Abbotsford, B.C.