3 out of 4 stars
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Combs' Who Told You That You Were Naked?: A Refreshing Reexamination of the Garden of Eden arises from the view that the Bible is a helpless material in the hands of interpreters. He seeks to deconstruct widely held, but perhaps 'faulty', interpretations of the Bible, and help shed a new light on grey areas which have resulted in conflicting views among Bible scholars and adherents over the years. The question then is: why W. E. Combs for such an exposition? First, from his lengthy introduction, one learns that he got his pastoral call shortly after graduating from college, and about the time he got married to his wife, Miriam, who was his spouse for fifty years. This gives us a hint on how long he has been in ministry. Such longevity must have afforded him ample time to study the subject in some great detail and depth. Also, we learn from Chapter Ten that he has a doctorate from The Fuller Theological Institute. In all, one can regard Combs as some sort of authority in the field - although I am not certain of national or international acclaim.
From the onset, it is evident that Combs seeks to fill some 'gaps' left by the writer of Genesis while rendering the creation story. The book answers such questions like: 'Why did God plant the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden if He never wanted Adam and Eve to eat of it?'; and 'Why was Abel's sacrifice accepted and Cain's rejected?' amongst others. This he does in exceptional fashion by constantly introducing fictional adaptations of biblical scenes - what he calls 'narrative embellishments', - not just to explain them but bring such episodes closer to reality (at least, something we can relate with).
By presenting the work as a sort of adventure in search of 'light beyond mere illumination', the author 'lures' the reader to undertake an eye-opening journey through the Bible in ten chapters which dwell mainly on man's fall at Eden, the nature of the fall, and God's redemptive work sealed by Christ's death on the cross. He argues that a good understanding of the former is critical in not just having a sound knowledge of God's finished work of redemption, but also in partaking in that redemption. Through a fictional adaptation, we see Adam's first day in the garden as well as his journey from innocence through self awareness caused by his ingestion of the forbidden fruit. This self awareness, argues the author, is at the root of all evil. It leads to such transgressions as fear and envy, and humanity must learn to live with the oppressive lifestyle if not for God's provision for man's redemption. This 'provision' is 'entered' into by believing, that is why the generation of the children of Israel who left Egypt could not partake of this rest, because they failed to believe.
The work indeed lives up to expectation as something refreshing - as the subtitle suggests. You find these in the meticulous manner in which Combs deconstructs previously held views (which he believes are largely faulty), and leads the reader unto a gradual and incremental illumination on key concepts of the Bible. The reader is sure to gain a deeper understanding of what 'Nakedness', as used in the book of Genesis entails; what 'the knowledge of good and evil' really is; as well as the concepts of 'Sin' and 'Rest'. Suffice it to say that the book is a treatise which builds-up into one central theme: Rest for the believer comes by walking in the finished work of Christ through faith.
The role of the author's style in getting the message across to the reader is also worthy of note. First, the use of study questions at the end of each chapter helps the reader to recall what has been read so far. It also tasks the reader to reflect on any new realization he must have acquired. Also, the inclusion of personal testimonies helps in making the work even more convincing.
For me, Who Told You That You Were Naked? by William E. Combs is a good read and I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. This is due to the constant switch from fictional adaptations to deep expositions which equally tasks the reader to constantly switch between frames of mind to grapple with the subject matter. I do not give it a 4 because of the complex manner in which the work is presented, nevertheless it is too good to be given a 2. It is also generally error free. Anyone looking for answers concerning the Christian God and His ways will find this book interesting.
Who Told You That You Were Naked?
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