Book Review: The Bible for Grown-Ups

Thanks to Warren Rose (Dayboro Explorers) for drawing our attention to this book which backgrounded his seminar on the historical Jesus last Sunday.

Author: (the late) Simon Loveday

His last project was The Bible for Grown-Ups (2016), a study of the history, text and context of the Bible, and he received the wonderful news of its publication shortly after his diagnosis with cancer. He faced his illness with exceptional determination, speaking on Radio 4, at the book launch and at literary festivals up until the week in which he died.

He studied social anthropology at King’s College, Cambridge, French and German at University College London and English at Merton College, Oxford. He discovered the work of the Canadian scholar Northrop Frye, a key intellectual influence, and a book, The Romances of John Fowles (1985), grew out of my father’s studies.

After teaching in Salisbury, Wiltshire, at the University of East Anglia and at Oxford, Simon joined the University of Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations. He described the move as “a watershed”, providing a vision of how exams could be designed to promote good teaching, not the other way around.

He took this vision into the psychological sphere and joined Mosaic, a management consultancy company in Bristol, trained in Gestalt therapy and became a pioneering promoter of psychological profiling in business. Simon later joined K2 Management Development and trained as a family psychotherapist. Most recently he was involved in developing and delivering courses for the NHS at Keele University.

From the Prologue:

“The book is theologically neutral. It neither requires, nor rejects, belief. What it tries to do is to help intelligent adults to make sense of the Bible – a book that is too large to swallow whole, yet too important in our history and culture to spit out. How do we approach the Bible, not with the naivete of the child, but with the maturity of the adult? How can we read the Bible with our brains in gear? The purpose of this bool is to do just that…..

“There is a childish way of thinking about the Bible – but what is an adult way? What, in short, would be ‘the Bible for grown-ups?

“The intention of this book is not to break new ground, nor to be contentious. There is a huge amount of careful, thoughtful, and fascinating biblical research and scholarship from the past two centuries but all too often it does not get over the academic frontier. This book seeks to make that research more widely known, in terms that the general reader can understand.”

The book is divided into three parts –

The Old Testament – structure, authority, historical context, structure and purpose, as history (is it true?), as morality (is it right?), read scientifically, who wrote it, multiple messages.

The New Testament – the world of Jesus, structure and purpose, as history and morality, the historical context, who wrote it?, who did Jesus think he was?.

A Vision of Freedom – Is there a different way to read the Bible? A literary appreciation. The sum of the parts: reading the Bible as a unity.

This a great resource for average critical thinkers who enjoy the reduction of the complex to a much simpler discourse without losing credibilty. It would be useful in discussions about interpretation, contextualising, knowing the background to the characters especially Jesus.


Paul Inglis 28th March 2023.



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