It has now been a year since the release of The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, so it’s a great time to revisit a few of my favorite reviews of the book.
And the third appears on Amazon, from the reviewer, “The Few and the Proud”:
Bob Hostetler makes many of Shakespeare’s nuggets of truth accessible for the unacquainted while still intriguing for the scholarly. As an English teacher and lover of all things literary, this combination of beautiful King James Bible verses and witty Shakespearean quotations was an instant sell for me. However, Hostetler ensures that anyone opening to any page of the book can understand and apply the day’s reading. He provides just enough background on the day’s quotes to give context and allow the reader to make connections between the two texts and his or her own daily life.
The entries begin with the two quotes, one from Shakespeare, and one from the King James Version of the Bible. Hostetler explains them in several paragraphs as he interweaves connections from everyday life. He concludes each day’s reading with a thought-provoking question, often referring back to the verbiage of the texts. (E.g., “Are you considering a ‘sweet’ course of action that could turn sour?”) The question is easily understood and relevant in the context of the day’s passages Hostetler has illuminated. It’s refreshing to see so many of Shakespeare’s universal themes understood and applied from a Biblical perspective, as doubtless they would have been in the playwright’s highly biblically-literate time.
Perhaps my favorite part of the book has little to do with its devotional nature. Each page ends with a short trivia tidbit section about the Bible, history, Shakespeare’s life, words Shakespeare coined, etc. Every tidbit leaves me wanting to skip ahead and learn more of the little-known trifles.
I’m really not the type to read daily devotional books, but this one has me sold. It appeals simultaneously to my intellect and my spirituality. After all, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, AND with all thy MIND.” Learning about life and God through the lens of one of the greatest authors in human history engages me as a whole person.
Thanks to all who read, review, buy, and give copies of The Bard and the Bible. Please keep this fine one-year devotional in mind for Christmas and end-of-year gifts!