Perfect for Devotions
Excellent Group Study
Published Reviews

Review by Doug McHone, Coffee Swirls

The art of Bible study is one where you pour over the Bible, determining context as you seek to interpret and apply the words to your life. The most common way that we try to do this is to have a firm foundation of the Bible as a whole, then the books, then the chapters, then the verses, followed by the significant words within the verses. Without context, you will have difficulty determining the significance of the individual words and it is often these words that comprise the bulk of study. This is certainly a valid Bible study method, but there are some places where the model does weaken.

Determining overall context takes time. How many times you should read the entire Bible for a good grasp of the big picture will depend on individual reading comprehension and the guidance of the Spirit of God? Our fallen minds cannot comprehend all that the Bible teaches and it is certainly not unheard of for a pastor to change their stance on one teaching or another after years behind the pulpit.

The other caveat that comes to mind is the end goal of Bible study. There are several ways to define this goal, but one of the more predominant ones is to understand what the main focus is according to the author. Rather than sitting in a circle of friends with each person saying what a passage means to them, it is better to study the word and attempt to discover what points the author was trying to present. Did the author intend for each word to be unpacked meticulously or is a broader viewing of the work a more appropriate way to see the tapestry of the work?

With this second question in mind, The Story of Joseph and Judah is unlike any study guide I have ever read. So many of my study tools are intended to get that close up on a word of phrase that directs my theology. Through study of the word, this micro-study does prove to be valuable, but as we are trying to get the main point of the author, it is easy to read the Bible in ways other than how the author intended.

The book of Genesis is written in such a way that a macro study ought to be the focal point, due to the purpose for which the book was written. Certainly there are many opportunities for a more micro approach in Genesis, but if we do not take the book in with a wide-angle lens we are certain to miss many of the main points that Moses sought to bring forth. It is this overhead view that we learn to appreciate as we work through the accounting of Joseph and Judah, comparing their lives to one another and seeking themes where many of us once had missed them due to our overemphasis of key words.

Let me stress that this book does not take a low view of inductive Bible study, word studies and the sort. The focus of this book is to take a step back from these studies from time to time and to appreciate the flow of the writing. There are many aspects to the story of Joseph that require a close inspection, but the authors of this study guide present an approach that has proven to be increasingly valuable. It is a method that takes the Bible as literary art and seeks to appreciate it as such. By gathering larger portions of the word of God into my focus, I have learned to take a larger view of God and His provision as He works all things to the good of those who love Him.

Filled with applications for today, we learn in this book that the story of Joseph and Judah is more than just a historical accounting with a few moral lessons thrown in. This is a true work of art meant to be appreciated as such. If you were going to view a masterpiece painting in an art gallery you would likely do some research on it beforehand to improve your experience. With this thought in mind, I give this book my unreserved recommendation as we view one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. This book is the first in a series of “at least ten” books and I certainly hope that ten is a conservative estimate.

          - Doug McHone, Coffee Swirls