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Very Short Commentaries

I thought this was cool. WIRED asked some science fiction, horror, and fantasy writers to follow in Hemmingway’s footsteps and write a short story in only six words. (Hemmingway said that his, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” was his best work.)

This project is crying for a biblical application. So without further ado, here are my six-word commentaries on each of the five books of the Pentateuch:

Genesis
God’s world. Abram’s family. To Egypt!

Exodus
“Let them go!” So he did.

Leviticus
Keep the whole law. Be holy.

Numbers
Forty years! Rebellion. Wars. Manna again?

Deuteronomy
Promised Land! But first, three sermons…

OK, who wants to take a stab at some of the other books of the Bible? Either leave your suggestion in the comments below or link back to me from your own blog and I’ll compile a master list right here.

Update: Several great commentaries have already come in. Here they are, along with a few more of my own:

[PS: See also Six-Word Commentaries: Deuterocanonical Edition.]

Joshua
Jericho is ours, and Canaan (mostly). (D. P.)

Judges
Apostasy brings oppression, deliverance, more apostasy. (D. P.)

Ruth
Egad! David’s great-grandmother was a Moabite! (D. P.)

1 Samuel
Saul was a disaster! Enter David. (D. P.)
God: “Monarchy‚ bad.” Saul proves it. (Michael)

2 Samuel
King David’s long and turbulent reign. (D. P.)

1 Kings
Solomon reigns, then the kingdom divides. (D. P.)

2 Kings
More kings, mostly bad, until Babylon. (D. P.)

1 Chronicles
Genealogies galore! Then David’s paradigmatic reign. (D. P.)

2 Chronicles
Kings of Judah: a postexilic commentary. (D. P.)

Ezra
Cyrus says, “Go home.” Now what? (D. P.)

Nehemiah
Rebuild the wall. Renew the covenant. (D. P.)

Esther
Haman is no more. Let’s party! (D. P.)
Beauty contest winner saves her people! (Michael)
Some reason, God is not mentioned (Martin)

Job
He suffers innocently. Where is God? (D. P.)
Dude, where’s my God? (Oh, #@%*!) (Dan)

Psalms
Get out your lyre. Let’s sing! (Anne)
Musical accompaniment for ancient Israelite worship. (D. P.)
[Be sure to check out Thomas Renz's commentaries on each of the five books of the Psalter in the comments below!]

Proverbs
Live skillfully, my son. Get wisdom. (D. P.)

Ecclesiastes
Jaded philosopher says, “All is vanity.” (D. P.)
The Byrds’ Muse: Turn, turn, turn. (Dan)

Song of Solomon
Hey Momma! I dig them cedars… (Dan)
Ancient Hebrew love poetry. Hubba, hubba. (D. P.)

Isaiah
God’s people, chastened, will be comforted. (D. P.)

Jeremiah
Don’t fear; God has a plan. (D. P.)

Lamentations
Alas, the holy city is fallen. (D. P.)

Ezekiel
God’s glory will return to Jerusalem. (D. P.)

Daniel
God shows His power in Babylon. (Martin LaBar)
We won’t bow to your idols! (D. P.)

Hosea
God is bigger than Israel’s adultery. (D. P.)

Joel
Locusts! God’s army! Then the Spirit. (John Dekker)
Calamity leads to sorrow, repentance, hope. (D. P.)

Amos
Day of LORD: Darkness, not Light! (Michael)

Obadiah
Edom betrayed us; they will pay!

Jonah
God is gracious—even to Nineveh. (D. P.)

Micah
Do justice. Make peace. Await redemption. (D. P.)

Nahum
God’s militant goodness. End of Nineveh. (Thomas Renz)

Habakkuk
Wait: Babylon is God’s penultimate word! (Thomas Renz)

Zephaniah
Total disaster. Seek God. Royal joy. (Thomas Renz)

Haggai
Houses, shmouses! Rebuild the temple—now! (D. P.)

Zechariah
Judah’s fortunes restored! (Despite leadership crisis.) (D. P.)

Malachi
Turn out the lights. Party’s over. (Dan)
Shape up, Israel. My messenger’s coming! (D. P.)

Matthew
Nativity! Five Teaching Blocks. Passion-Vindication. (Michael)
Learn righteousness in the Messiah’s kingdom (D. P.)

Mark
God’s Son suffered, overcame. Follow him. (D. P.)
Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. (Michael)

Luke
Poor? Marginalized? Jesus welcomes, heals, forgives. (D. P.)

John
Light! Life! The Word became flesh. (D. P.)

Acts
Jesus ascended but is still present. (JHearne)
Witnesses go everywhere in God’s power. (D. P.)

Romans
Saved by grace through faith. Live! (Craig)
Jew? Greek? God doesn’t play favorites. (D. P.)

1 Corinthians
Yikes, Christians! Get your act together! (D. P.)

2 Corinthians
Let’s be reconciled, for Christ’s sake. (D. P.)

Galatians
Faith justifies. Put down the knife! (D. P.)
Having so much freedom is scary (Susan)

Ephesians
The church mightily displays God’s wisdom. (D. P.)

Philippians
To know Jesus means everything. Rejoice! (D. P.)

Colossians
Just follow Christ. Nothing else matters. (D. P.)

1 Thessalonians
My hurried, harried ministry prospered. Alleluia! (D. P.)

2 Thessalonians
Calm down! Signs aren’t fulfilled yet. (D. P)

1 Timothy
Teach well! Teach the gospel simply. (JHearne)

2 Timothy
Timothy, keep ministering. It’s worth it. (JHearne)

Titus
Take Christianity seriously. Get in order. (JHearne)

Philemon
I’m sending Onesimus back. Be nice. (JHearne)

Hebrews
Jesus is our great high priest. (JHearne)
Jesus is better; don’t fall away! (Michael)

James
Saving faith changes who you are. (JHearne)
True faith should make a difference (D. P.)
Beware the wealthy, tongues, etc. Serve. (Dan)

1 Peter
Fear not. Christians win out eventually. (JHearne)
Welcome, new Christians! Here’s your cross. (D. P.)
Live out your baptism every day. (Craig)

2 Peter
It’s not over yet. Keep improving. (JHearne)

1 John
Love. Walk in God without sin. (JHearne)

2 John
Watch out for deceivers! Keep loving. (JHearne)

3 John
I heard you’re walking truthfully. Good! (JHearne)

Jude
Don’t be fooled, fakers will pay. (JHearne)

Revelation
The victor is the slain lamb. (JHearne)
God’s Lamb Conquers; Him We Follow! (Michael)

Update 2: I concur with Michael Westmoreland-White that the Gospels are probably the hardest to summarize in six words. Before I sign off for the night, I’ve added my Gospel commentaries as well as Michael’s suggestion for Matthew.

Update 3: Looks like Michael and Joshua are in a race! There are lots of good commentaries being generated, but I’m going to arbitrarily limit myself to three total for any one Bible book in the list above, with only one commentary each from a single participant. Feel free to post all you want in the comments or take the show on the road to your own blogs! :-)

Update 4: Thanks to many of you, I now have at least one entry for each book in the Protestant canon. I’m still eager to hear suggestions for the Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament!

technorati tags: bible


23 Comments

  1. Anne says:

    Psalms: Get out your lyre. Let’s sing!

    Like

  2. Craig says:

    This could apply to several Pauline epistles, but how about this for Romans? “Saved by grace through faith. Live!”

    Like

  3. Jhearne says:

    I’ve taken the challenge and posted commentaries for 1 Timothy through Revelation. Let me know what you think.

    Like

  4. I like these, but I would modify 1 Sam.: God: “Monarchy– bad.” Saul proves it.

    Like

  5. D. P. says:

    Very good commentaries, everyone! And Michael, I don’t see why you can’t have two commentaries on a single book, so I’ve added your 1 Samuel offering to the list.

    Like

  6. The hardest challenges will be the Gospels, but here’s an attempt for Matthew: Nativity! Five Teaching Blocks. Passion-Vindication.

    I used “Vindication” instead of Resurrection in order to include the Great Commission, etc.

    Like

  7. My attempt for Esther is like a headline: “Beauty Contest Winner Saves Her People!”

    I take Mark’s right from the opening words: “Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.”

    Hebrews: “Jesus is Better; Don’t Fall Away!”

    Like

  8. Revelation: God’s Lamb Conquers; Him We Follow!

    Like

  9. JHearne says:

    Acts:
    Luke part two. Christians spread quickly.
    or
    Jesus ascended but it still present.
    or
    Christian message spreading quickly. Stick together.

    Like

  10. Martin says:

    For Esther:

    Some reason, God is not mentioned.

    Like

  11. Dan Trabue says:

    What great fun!

    How about….

    Job: Dude, Where’s my God? (Oh #@%*!)

    Song of Solomon: Hey Momma! I dig them cedars…

    Ecclessiastes: The Byrds’ Muse: Turn, turn, turn…

    Malachi: Turn out the lights. Party’s over.

    Like

  12. Okay, technically, according to your rules, I’m out of entries. But, if no one posts for Amos, how about: “Day of LORD: Darkness, not Light!”

    Like

  13. D. P. says:

    Lemme clarify the “rules” (such as they are):

    (1) One commentary per person per Bible book.
    (2) Three total commentaries per Bible book.

    So in theory, you’ve still got a few dozen commentaries to write before you’re out of entries :-)

    Like

  14. Dan Trabue says:

    James: Beware the wealthy, tongues, etc. Serve.

    Like

  15. Richard says:

    Song of Solomon:
    “O God, you’re sexy!”

    Like

  16. D. P. says:

    Richard, that one’s a little short on word count. :-) I’ll talk to the guys in design. Maybe we can typeset it with wider margins and maybe thrown in some kind of graphic. Then again, maybe ixnay on the graphic….

    Like

  17. Craig says:

    Richard suggested for Psalms: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìO God, you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re sexy!?¢‚Ǩ¬ù

    Dr. P responded, “Richard, that one?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a little short on word count. :-) I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll talk to the guys in design. Maybe we can typeset it with wider margins and maybe thrown in some kind of graphic. Then again, maybe ixnay on the graphic?¢‚Ǩ¬¶.”

    Perhaps we can expand the words to conform to the rules, e.g., “Oh God, you are very sexy!”
    :-)

    Like

  18. John Dekker says:

    I’ve got one for Joel:

    Locusts! God’s Army! Then the Spirit.

    Like

  19. Martin LaBar says:

    Great idea.

    Suggestion for Daniel:

    God shows His power in Babylon.

    Like

  20. Susan says:

    Suggestion for Galatians:
    Having so much freedom is scary.
    (Susan)

    Like

  21. Thomas Renz says:

    I offer the following

    Nahum
    God’s militant goodness. End of Nineveh.

    Habakkuk
    Wait: Babylon is God’s penultimate word!

    Zephaniah
    Total disaster. Seek God. Royal joy.

    and each book of the Psalms really deserves a separate commentary (and music)

    Book 1 (Psalm 1-41)
    God’s king in trouble. Me too.

    Book 2 (Psalm 42-72)
    God’s place is great – life mixed.

    Book 3 (Psalm 73-89)
    Nothing works anymore. Now what?

    Book 4 (Psalm 90-106)
    Refuge in God’s kingship. Bless him!

    Book 5 (Psalm 107-145)
    Hallelujah! Exile over. Torah. Festivals. Hallelujah!

    Psalm 146-150 have been aptly called a “symphony of praise in five movements” (Crogan) to conclude the Psalter.

    Like

  22. [...] VERY Short Bible Commentaries Darrell Pursifal, aka Dr. Platypus, became inspired to see if he and others could, Hemingway-like, write very, very short summaries of biblical books. The limit is 6 words to describe an entire biblical book. I have added a few and invite others to join in. It’s fun and works your brain to try to summarize that briefly. We haven’t yet gotten 66 entries, so feel free to try your hand. Also, Darrell has generously posted more than one commentary on a book. Enjoy. [...]

    Like

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