The 100 Minute Bible – Spiritual Cliff Notes?


The Guardian reports on the publishing of the 100 Minute Bible saying: “They may be the words of the Lord. But there are simply too many of them for the modern attention span.” DogfightAtBankstown quips: “You know, even Christians can devour Harry Potter in a weekend, but can’t find the time to go through the Bible cover to cover once in their life time. Never mind the fact that no-one reads a book a paragraph at a time. Unless it’s a book in the Bible of course.”

Here’s a sample:
‘100-Minute Bible’

In the beginning God created heaven and earth over a period of six days. First he created light and darkness; then the vault of the heavens, separating the water above from the water below; then the dry land and all that grows in it. On the fourth day God created the sun, the moon and the stars; on the fifth the creatures of the sea and sky; and on the sixth those of the land, including humankind. On the seventh day God rested.

God made the first man, Adam, from the dust, and breathed life into him. He placed him in the beautiful and fertile garden of Eden, forbidding him to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil which grew there. Because he thought man should not be alone, he created the first woman from Adam’s rib; Adam named her Eve. Eve was tempted by the serpent, the most cunning of creatures; she took fruit from the forbidden tree, ate some herself and gave some to her husband. As a punishment, God expelled them both from the garden; he condemned men to arduous toil, and women to pain in childbearing and to submission to their husbands.



This should not be surprising from a generation who grew up making Cliff Notes one of the most popular racks in high school and college campus book stores. Often when students read the actual works of the classic author, Faulkner, Tennyson, Sinclair, Shakespeare, it is from Reader’s Digest styled anthologies. Wishes and Stitches gives expression to the old saw that when these summaries and condensed versions are used the student is at least given a foundation they can build on. But the practical result for most is that the Cliff Notes summary or the condensed version is all most have ever read in the classics of literature.

Executives read summaries of reports they will never read in their entirety. Web surfers gather their news in the truncated first paragraphs on blogs or a ticker on the bottom of the screen. IMs are fast becoming more common on cell phones than an actual voice conversation. We have trained ourselves to do more with less information in a world that has more information available than ever before. We want everything faster, more compact, more efficient.

While this may serve us well in the fast paced world of information we live in, it serves up poorly when it comes to the Word of God. For centuries theologians and publishers have pushed and pulled Holy Scripture to fit the perceived needs of the then current generation. And in all that pushing and pulling we somehow come to believe that these are our words to do with what we want. If we give Scripture its due, we have to confess about Scripture what God says about Scripture—they are HIS words. They are not just historical accounts and stories to be cut, pasted, edited, or minimized for space. The Word set down by God is the account of His action to bring us back to Him from the abyss of sin; it the necessary report of God’s eternal love that would not be content that we were lost and condemned creatures; it is the story of the Creator who sent His one and only Son to redeem us. These are not our words. They are God’s Word. A holy and divine Word.

So much of the debate about the 100 Minute Bible seems to center on the literary merit, the social comment, and the lack of depth common in this or that generation. It may be all that. But what should not be lost is the transcendent nature of God’s Word. And the capacity of Man to think he can do better than God….. again.


An aside: It might finally get down to this – the Bible in 50 words:

God made, Adam bit,
Noah arked, Abraham split,
Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled,
bush talked, Moses balked,
Pharaoh plagued,
people walked, sea divided,
tablets guided, promise landed,
Saul freaked, David peeked, prophets warned,
Jesus born,
God walked, love talked,
anger crucified, hope died, Love rose,
Spirit flamed, Word spread,
God remained
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