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INTRODUCTION

What is in this book?

A Jewish saying goes, “There are 70 ways to interpret the Torah and all of them are correct.” The same thing can be said for the entire Bible. No one book can provide all of the variations on thoughts about and interpretations of the Bible. The purpose of The Handy Bible Answer Book is to provide the casual reader with an introduction to the people, places, and events in the Bible.

This is not a project I undertook lightly. Every day before I sat down to work on this book, I prayed. I prayed for God to enlarge my understanding of the Bible and grant me the ability to write about it in a meaningful, accessible way.

My name appears as the author of this book, but really there are so many people who helped make this possible. First, I thank Scott and Rookie. Also, I thank Abby, Ann, Ariel, Avery, Carolyn, Debbie, Etta, Gerald, Jane, John, Karen, Katie, Laura, Maggie, Marge, Meg, Rocky, Ruth Ann, Sally, Sallyanne, Shellie, Sherie, Sharon, and Tricia for their invaluable insights, ideas, proofreading abilities, and encouragements. Some of these folks are clergy; some are not. All of them helped immeasurably.

I used several translations of the Bible throughout the book in order to provide the reader with an idea of how the translations are similar and different. Each translation has its own flavor, so to speak. They are cited in quotes with the following abbreviations:

• NRSV: The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, third edition, edited by Michael D. Coogan, Oxford University Press, 2007. This is the translation I used most frequently.

• NIV: The Life Application Study Bible: New International Version, Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1997.

• NLT: The Life Application Study Bible: The New Living Translation, Tyndale House Publishers, 1996.

• The Message: The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Lanuage, by Eugene H. Peterson, NAVPress, 2002.

• KJV: The Holy Bible: Authorized King James Version, Holman Bible Publishers, 1987.

The Message does not have the content of chapters divided into verses, so the verse numbers are approximations based on verse numbers in other translations.

Also, in this book the terms BCE (Before the Common Era) and CE (Common Era) are used to designate the years before and after the birth of Jesus.

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