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Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study

How Do We Create a Meaningful Relationship with God
Consistent with Science, History, and Culture?

 

Award-Winning Book Presents Author’s Personal Experience and the Latest Scholarly Research in an Inspirational Approach to Understanding the Ministry of Jesus and the Books of the Old Testament

Millennials seeking a new approach to spirituality, those who identify with the “emerging church” identified by Marcus Borg and others, anyone interested in Christ’s Jewishness and the elimination of anti-Jewish bias from Bible study, and women, LGBTs, and others who seek a Biblical approach that overcomes insistence on obedience to questionable Old Testament commands will be intrigued by the new book by Edward G. Simmons.

The award-winning Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study offers stimulating and readable insight into the Bible in the form of scholarship and life experience based on a personal commitment to God as the source of meaning in the universe.

Simmons explains that Talking Back to the Bible explores the unavoidable risks implied by scientific discoveries, inevitable historical change, and the ultimate incomprehensibility of God from a human vantage point. Consisting of a series of short Bible studies, the book presents:

• insight into the humanity of Jesus
• an understanding of discipleship and a relationship with God that transcends many current theological debates
• a candid discussion of the impact of science and historical study on many traditional beliefs
• insights from science and historical study on major themes in the Old Testament

Simmons comments, “My lifelong study of history, science, and the Bible along with personal religious and traumatic experiences fueled a passion to share my insights and discoveries, many of which are unfamiliar to the general public.”

Talking Back to the Bible received the 2017 Illumination Gold Medal Award for Spirituality.
 

 

The central message of Talking Back to the Bible is the possibility of meaning in our universe through relationship with God while recognizing the unavoidable risks implied by scientific discoveries, inevitable historical change, and the ultimate incomprehensibility of God from a human vantage point. The author uses personal experiences and the latest scholarly research as the Bible becomes the conversational partner recommended by Marcus Borg. Talking back to the Bible becomes an interactive, stimulating, and inspirational way to understand the ministry of Jesus and the books of the Old Testament.

The book consists of a series of short Bible studies presenting: (1) insight into the humanity of Jesus; (2) an understanding of discipleship and relationship with God transcending many current theological debates; (3) a candid discussion of the impact of science and historical study on Resurrection beliefs; and (4) insights from science and historical study as major themes from the Old Testament are discussed in terms of relationship with God. The author’s method combines personal experiences and scholarship in seeking to find a basis to affirm the possibility of meaningful yet culture-bound relationship with God that is not in conflict with scientific and historical studies.

Talking Back to the Bible is the most honest account of a spiritual journey that I have ever read. The author concludes that it is most important for human beings to affirm a God with whom they can have a relationship. Having relationships with others is a human need. The Bible, it turns out, is the record of human beings documenting their relationship with God. This opens up a new way of reading the Bible.” Dr. Andrea Croce Birch, Dean, College of Fine Arts and Humanities, Dean, Undergraduate School, Professor of Philosophy, Brenau University

Author: Dr. Edward G. Simmons was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1943. A graduate of Mercer University, he earned both an M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Simmons taught history at Appalachian State University until he was drafted to serve during the Vietnam era. Stationed in California, South Dakota, and then Georgia, he served in the Air Force. Following his military tenure, Dr. Simmons became an expert in the field of organizational management as a result of thirty-four years of service for the Georgia Department of Human Resources, during which he continued to teach history part-time at local colleges in addition to consulting for top-level managers in various state organizations. In retirement, he teaches history part-time at Georgia Gwinnett College and Brenau University.

Book Endorsements

Talking Back to the Bible can be a unique and useful tool in Christian education. It would be a valuable resource for church groups – including Sunday School classes, special study groups, and Bible study groups – to confront challenging and confusing Biblical passages. Edward Simmons offers up insights and perspectives that will give rise to thoughtful and penetrating discussion. 

Rev. Dr. Benjamin T. Jordan, Associate Professor of the Practice, Engineering Management, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering
Retired Elder in the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church

In working through the book I have enjoyed it and found it helpful with some new lenses to use in looking at the biblical narratives. The format of starting with questions that people naturally ask and then responding to those questions with a clear distinction between what a historian sees and what the “eye of faith” sees is a very good invitation to a way of thinking that will be helpful to many.

Rev. Dr. J. Colin Harris, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies,
Mercer University

Talking Back to the Bible, is the most honest account of a spiritual journey that I have ever read. The author concludes that it is most important for human beings to affirm a God with whom they can have a relationship. Having relationships with others is a human need. The Bible, it turns out, is the record of human beings documenting their relationship with God.  This opens up a new way of reading the Bible. When human beings read the Bible they are engaging in an ongoing conversation.  As in all relationships, there is give and take, talking to and talking back, asking and listening, becoming closer and at times pulling farther apart.

Dr. Andrea Croce Birch
Dean, College of Fine Arts and Humanities
Dean, Undergraduate School
Professor of Philosophy
Brenau University

When I was a child, I would get in into trouble talking back to my parents. So naturally,  I was intrigued with the book’s title and context. The book pleasantly surprised me with the fluid movement of the text and the lens through which it was interpreted. The storyline sheds new light on aspects of familiar verses that I have tended to overlook when delving into scripture from a homiletical perspective. I appreciated how the writer infused personal testimony with impactful insight to help make the text even more meaningful to contemporary life. This is truly a remarkable text that has reminded me not to limit how we approach the various ways in which we study the Bible. I would recommend this book to anyone who has doubts about faith and life while on this journey we all walk.

Rev. Shon Peppers
Associate Pastor
First Presbyterian Church
Gainesville, GA

Review & Commentary