Saturday, January 08, 2011

Book Review: Slave

Most of the people reading my blog probably can tell the difference between a servant and a slave.  It's pretty simple--a servant has more options.  Servants are generally paid for their services and in most cases have some choices about whom they work for.  Slaves, on the other hand, rarely have any choices about who their masters are and are rarely paid for their work.  Why is it then, when the word slave--duolos in Greek--appears in the original New Testament text, it has been translated servant in the King James Bible (and many other English texts)?  What does this change about our viewpoint of these verses?

I just finished reading John MacArthur's new book, Slave:  The Hidden Truth About Your Identity In Christ.   In the final chapter, MacArthur sums up the entire book with one fantastic statement:  "God has expressed the riches of our salvation using the symbolism of slavery."  Reading this book plunged me into yet another "MacArthur induced" paradigm shift, just as reading The Jesus You Can't Ignore did.  :) The book explores the original Greek text, why duolos has been translated as it has, and what it really means translated properly as "slave."  MacArthur leads us on a journey to explore slavery in Rome at the time the New Testament books were being written, and how this has impacted our Christian faith throughout the centuries ever since.  It is packed with great research, quotes, and inspiring stories of saints and martyrs.

Since this is only the second book I have read by MacArthur, I feel that my perspective may be a little narrow.  However, this book (like the previous I read) seemed like it took forever to really get moving.  He very carefully built the foundation for his main point, which meant that from chapter to chapter there was some repetition and overlap.  I don't necessarily view this as a negative point, though and here is why.  For one, I am a busy person.  I would read as much as I could, but inevitably had to put the book down for interruptions (and that was especially so trying to read it over the holidays).  Having the constant repetition was extremely helpful for me to fully understand and grasp what MacArthur was teaching without committing 100% focus to the text.  Another reason why the overlap is good is that the book will lean itself well to a small group study.  Every chapter is rich with scriptural references, and there is much here to study!  In fact, I kept my iPod touch close by at all times with the ESV Bible on it so that I could look up verses that came to mind.  The quoted scripture was wonderful!  There were more than a few wonderful places in the book where I felt that same excitement well up within my soul that I get when I listen to "That's My King" by Dr. S. M. Lockridge. 

The book is not long, only 13 chapters with a preface and appendix.  One other thing I really appreciated about the layout of the book is that footnotes and references were included at the bottom of every page.  I loved being able to glance right to the bottom of the page when I hit a footnote mark.

At one point in reading the book, probably after about the third chapter, I got a feeling that the book sounded a lot like a sermon and I wondered if MacArthur had preached a sermon (or even a series) on the topic.  A quick search on the Grace To You website produced a sermon on 8/26/2010 titled Servant or Slave?.  I highly recommend listening to the sermon--it's a great introduction to the book.

Overall, this was a great book.  I recommend it for personal growth, for pastors and teachers, and for small group studies!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson book publishers through BookSneeze, their blogger program.  I was not required to write a positive review, my thoughts and comments are my own.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I can't wait to read this. I remember a few years ago at the Shepherd's conference his final address was on this topic. I'm glad he's made it into a book.

    Thanks for the review.