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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:

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

“Let them go!” So he did.

Keep the whole law. Be holy.

Forty years! Rebellion. Wars. Manna again?

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.]

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

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

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.)

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

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

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

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

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!]

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

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.)

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

Don’t fear; God has a plan. (D. P.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edom betrayed us; they will pay!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.)

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

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

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

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)

Take Christianity seriously. Get in order. (JHearne)

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

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

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)

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

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


  1. Anne says:

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


  2. Craig says:

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


  3. Jhearne says:

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


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


  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.


  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.


  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!”


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


  9. JHearne says:

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


  10. Martin says:

    For Esther:

    Some reason, God is not mentioned.


  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.


  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!”


  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 :-)


  14. Dan Trabue says:

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


  15. Richard says:

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


  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….


  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!”


  18. John Dekker says:

    I’ve got one for Joel:

    Locusts! God’s Army! Then the Spirit.


  19. Martin LaBar says:

    Great idea.

    Suggestion for Daniel:

    God shows His power in Babylon.


  20. Susan says:

    Suggestion for Galatians:
    Having so much freedom is scary.


  21. Thomas Renz says:

    I offer the following

    God’s militant goodness. End of Nineveh.

    Wait: Babylon is God’s penultimate word!

    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.


  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. […]


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