Have you ever set out to read your Bible only to get stuck in Leviticus, the prophecies of Ezekiel, the seemingly endless lists of First and Second Chronicles, or the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew or Luke? It’s common to start out determined to read through the Bible only to get bored, confused, or discouraged as you struggle through genealogies, prophecy, or sanctuary rituals.
Prophecy, genealogy, and sanctuary rituals all have their proper place within the bounds of Bible study. But for the new believer, these things can be difficult and confusing.
To resolve this difficulty, I created The Story Bible. The idea was to remove from the text those things that are complicated and/or confusing for the new believer, or for anyone who is new to Bible reading. For example, the books of First and Second Chronicles contain some great stories. But they include so many numbers and lists that the narratives get lost in the shuffle. So in The Story Bible I simply removed the lists, while leaving the stories to be read and enjoyed. Another example is the book of Numbers, which also contains some fascinating stories. But the stories are interspersed with descriptions of sanctuary rituals and census data that can become boring or confusing to the new believer. So again, I simply removed the sanctuary ritual descriptions and the census data while leaving the stories in place to be enjoyed without frustration. What I have produced is a Bible that can be read by a new believer from cover to cover without getting stuck.
After serving as a Christian pastor for many years, I not only recognize the problem of new believers getting stuck in genealogies, sanctuary rituals, etc., but I also recognize that what new believers need most is familiarity with Bible stories. The Bible narratives form the backbone for everything else in scripture. Prophecy, sanctuary rituals, pastoral letters, genealogies, and even census data find their place once the new believer becomes familiar with the stories.
Keep in mind that I have not edited the narratives themselves. Every word of The Story Bible is from the text itself. I have only removed that which is not narrative, so that the narratives are no longer obscured and can more easily be enjoyed. Another way to put it is to say that The Story Bible is a compilation of all the stories of Scripture. Every portion of the Bible that is narrative was included. I did not edit, condense, or rewrite the narratives. I only compiled them.
The translation I used for this project is the Bible in Basic English. It was translated by Professor Samuel Henry Hooke (1874-1968), an English scholar and Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies in the University of London. The BBE was printed in 1965 by Cambridge Press in England. Published without any copyright notice and distributed in America, this work fell immediately and irretrievably into the public domain in the United States. The BBE is easy to read, since it utilizes a 1000 word vocabulary.
My hope is that new believers will be drawn in by the Bible stories and discover how relevant and practical the Bible is for us today.