Takeaway: A guided devotional reading of scripture can bring new insights.
The Gospel of Amazement is the latest in my current bible reading strategy. This is a perfect book to add to a long-term look at Luke. I have read a small group bible study, a book on a short passage in Luke and my next book will be a very academic commentary. But Michael Card’s book is more of a ‘devotional commentary’. Its focus is devotional more than academic, but it still brings in clear academic insights.
Card translated Luke himself. The chapters of Luke are separated into chapters in the Gospel of Amazement and Card gives commentary on small sections. I may feel the devotional style more because I actually used it as a devotional.
Card brings real insight into what Luke’s additions were to the gospels. Luke was a physician, a gentile, and partner with Paul. Michael Card explores these connection. Some of the musing is just conjecture (and he is clear about that) but the conjecture is reasonable and useful to looking into why Luke might have been writing as he did.
The subtitle of the book is based on Luke’s repeated use of ‘and they were amazed’. Card does a very good job of showing the themes of Luke. The two most striking to me (and the two Card emphasizes most) are Amazement and Contrasts. Amazement is fairly self explanatory, but without reading in Greek we miss the different Greek words that end up as amazement in English. Card brings some real academic background (he is the most biblically literate song writer I know.) But he writes in an approachable way directly for non-professionals without Greek language background.
The second major theme he highlights are the contrasts between those that we tend to think of as blessed by God and those that Jesus says are actually blessed. This is not just the Beatitudes, but in many of Jesus’ parables and teachings. In Luke, Jesus often pairs a parable about a rich person and a poor person. Sometimes in the same parable Jesus shows the contract, like the prayers of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
Card is showing his background as an artist when he read scripture. He paints with words to show the reader a clear view of scripture. I recommend this as a part of a regular devotional reading.
Personally, I am really benefiting from the repeated readings of the same passage and looking at different takes on a single book. I am about 1/3 of the way through my six months in Luke. I have read Luke in four different translations now (including Card’s use of HCSB translation). My next book on Luke is a heavy weight, nearly 1000 page commentary on Luke. I am anticipating it will take me 4 to 6 weeks at least. I am still waiting on the NT Wright commentary to be re-released in Kindle format. I think I have time for one more book on Luke if anyone has a suggestion.