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Review: Truly the Community

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As a former seminary student, I have read an astounding number of theology books and biblical expositions. This book, however, was not one of my assignments- it was actually recommended by a dear friend, who gushed about the author, Marva Dawn. Since gushing isn’t exactly her style, I knew I had to check out the author, so I wrote down her two recommendations Keeping the Sabbath Wholly and Truly the Community: Romans 12 and How to Be the Church and I purchased copies of both. For the record, its one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Truly Community: Romans 12 and How to be the Church by Marva Dawn is theology at its best. Dawn handles the biblical text masterfully in rendering her translation, and in communicating it in such a way that it makes sense, and she is incredibly thought provoking in the way she calls believers to live it out. It is easy, when you are assessing a biblical text at the level of phrase by phrase to unintentionally divorce it from its context in that particular body of Scripture, or to miss its connection to the wider arc of the biblical whole, but Dawn manages to keep both in perspective, constantly tying it all back together.

Though Dawn’s rendering, I was challenged by the biblical truths about community. Often, I found myself stopping to think something over, to mediate on a thought, or simply to let something sink in. It took me nearly a year to read, not because it was slow, but because I kept stopping to think, highlight, or re-read a passage. It’s by no means the kind of book you sit down and read in one sitting. You lose too much with that “swallow it whole” approach.

If you’re looking for a great resource on community, this is it. Work through it as a ministry team, read it as a devotional, or read it in a small group- it works well in all of those contexts. I give this one five stars.


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