Some intriguing ideas, but the somewhat introductory information needed to understand the theory and its history is presented in a narrative format which drags on for four hours. The narrative format detracts from the actual content and I often felt annoyed, wishing I could tell the author to forget about Alice twirling her hair and just get to the point. After five and a half hours, when different experiments and possible applications of the theory were finally discussed the book did get more interesting.
I will agree with the description that "Max McLean brings his compelling voice and artistic narrative skills to the ESV Bible". It is the narrative sections that he does the best at, although sometimes he will emphasize pretty random words, trying to sound unnecessarily epic or something. The Epistles aren't bad, and Revelation was also pretty good. But the Old Testament prophetic sections seemed to be lacking in the proper emotion.
The background music was also pretty random, it wasn't there to enhance the mood of any specific scene, but just an occasionally shifting pad throughout. Maybe it was there to work with the soothing tones of McLean's voice to help lull one to sleep. And I do not mean that as a bad thing. I think using it to fall asleep to, is a great use for an audio Bible. When listening to it in the car, I couldn't even hear the music most of the time, but I didn't miss it.
Ehrman sets things up in the first few chapters in an, "OMG! the New Testament has errors!!!1!!" kind of way. But it is not as big of a deal as he makes it out to be. He uses two major (and well known) changes, as examples of the "thousands of changes" in the manuscripts, as if to say that many of those thousands of changes are of the same major significance, even though they are not.
He does get into a more reasoned study after that though, and this book could serve as a decent introduction to textual criticism. Although like he himself said, some matters of textual criticism are not straight forward, and many scholars disagree on the original readings--so too here, the reader should not take Ehrman's opinions as the final word on any of the specific passages he examines. Some of the manuscript changes he mentions are not even in modern translations, but he includes them in a way that suggests they are still significant errors in our Bibles (maybe they are for those who still hold to the KJV).
A very good resource is the NET Bible which includes a wealth of text critical notes where the translators clearly explain why they chose the readings they did (they do deal with many of the passages Ehrman mentions, except for Hebrews 2:9).
Ehrman concludes that the NT is "not well preserved", but fails to mention that compared to other ancient writings (Homer, Plato, et cetera), the books of the NT are incredibly well preserved.
Rob Bell is reacting against his conservative evangelical upbringing. This is all well and good. He has issues with some of the ways the gospel has been presented, and he should, since certain distillations of the gospel are terribly incomplete. In this book he clears up some of the misconceptions that people might have about heaven, and for that I applaud him.
He is not advocating universalism, since he still says Jesus is the only way. He just does not think that it is game over when you die. As much as I would love to believe that that is true, it cannot be reconciled with what it clearly says in the Bible. Also, saying God's relentless love will win everybody over in the end, makes God sound more like a creepy stalker than a holy God.
Do take note that this is from Harper Children's Audio. The narrator lends a cartoonish aspect where even many of the older characters still sound like children--which can be hard to listen to at first. There were also so many names being thrown around, that initially it was hard to follow and to know which of the characters were of actual consequence to the plot. Otherwise the story line was okay, but I probably won't go out of my way to get more books in the series.
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