We get asked all the time for recommendations of books to read while on a retreat.
We also get asked frequently about great books about understanding Scripture.
There is one book that stands above all the rest which fulfills both of these needs. It is called “Walking With God” by Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray.
“Walking With God” shows how to read the Bible – it focuses on the books of the Bible that tell the narrative story of Scripture and explains how the rest of the supplemental books fit in. It then walks through the narrative of scripture and explains what is happening at each point in the story.
This book describes the story of Scripture in a condensed manner, focusing only on what is really important to know right away, and explains the less-obvious aspects about what is going on: how the people of the time would have read the story, how the politics of the time affected the story, and how the language can be correctly interpreted to the get the correct meaning.
Why It Is Great
Here are a few reasons this book is great:
It Is Approachable
There were some big words and themes in the book, but for the most part it was one of the most approachable commentaries on Scripture that we have ever seen for the everyday Catholic.
Many books about Scripture are extremely long and almost require you to have an advanced degree in Theology (and several languages) in order to understand the writing. This book’s biggest strength is that it is approachable and can be read in a reasonable amount of time – it is less than 300 pages long.
This book is not too difficult for somebody who is new to studying Scripture, yet it will still provide exceptional insight for the experienced Scripture student.
It Guides the Reader Through Scripture
Even with years of Catechism classes most of us still did not understand the arrangement of books in Scripture, the purpose of various books, and the proper sequence to read the books.
Walking With God will clear all of this up.
This book makes clear the “narrative” books of the Bible versus the “supplemental” books, and that makes a big difference when you are trying to understand the full story.
And another thing – following the narrative opens up to the reader just how incredible the story of the Bible is. You will find several “can’t put this book down” reading sessions where the story is so intriguing that you cannot stop reading. The story told in the narrative of Scripture is actually a fascinating and exciting when you know how to follow it!
It Helps the Reader to Understand What is Going On
There is so much underlying the story of Scripture – culture, language, politics, etc. – it is hard to get a full grasp of the story without an explanation of how each of these elements is playing into it at the time.
Simply learning a couple of the key concepts explained in Walking With God with change the way that you read and understand Scripture (especially the Old Testament).
How This Book Can Be Used
Walking With God is one of the most informative and useful books on Scripture that we have ever found. Honestly, we could call it life-changing.
This book is worth reading through multiple times, maybe even on a regular basis every year or two.
There are several ways that this book could be used for spiritual enrichment.
On Its Own
Obviously, just reading it is a great start.
Read Simultaneously with the Scripture
Reading it concurrently with the Scripture passages that are being discussed would be especially enriching, but it would be a major undertaking. Even though “Walking With God” only focuses on a handful of the books of the Bible in detail, there is still a whole lot of reading involved to get through those few books.
With the Book Club
This book was a selection for the Catholic Retreats Book Club, so you can follow along with the chapter-by-chapter commentary and discussion from the Book Club that went along with reading the book starting here.
It would be a great idea to spend time with this book on a retreat, probably a week-long retreat, reading this book slowly. Then, immediately after the retreat, start reading through the narrative books of Scripture. This would be a great way to continue the retreat experience after returning home and “coming off the mountain” of a spiritual retreat, and it would enrich one’s understanding of Scripture.
What do you think? Have you read “Walking With God?” Let us know your experience with it in the comments below!