The Beloved Disciple (by Beth Moore)

I downloaded a few of Beth Moore’s devotional books for the Kindle a while ago when they were offered free for a short period. I read through the one about the apostle Paul earlier in the year, and thought, on the whole, that it was well written and interesting. So when I’d finished it, I started on the one about the apostle and gospel-writer John.

‘The Beloved Disciple’ is about one of my favourite Bible characters, and, as with the previous book, began by giving some background into his life, with some speculation based on what we know about young men of his culture and era, as well as close attention to what’s found in Scripture.

I had not previously realised that John was most likely the youngest of the twelve specially called disciples of Jesus, but what Beth Moore writes makes a lot of sense. We certainly know that John was the longest lived, exiled in late middle age to the island of Patmos, where he wrote Revelation, the final book of the Bible.

However, I didn’t find the main part of the book as helpful or inspiring as the one about Paul. That surprised me, and slightly disappointed me, as John wrote some of the most thought-provoking passages in the New Testament. But perhaps I’ve read them - and read about them - so many times previously that there wasn’t much that I hadn’t thought of before.

That’s not a problem with the book as such, but I did find the style of writing a bit irritating too. There seemed to be a lot of cliches and informal slang, which jarred. Parts of the book read as if they were transcripts of a talk rather than being intended for reading, and some of the phrases made no sense at all to someone not brought up in the same culture.

I also found it annoying that the author kept referring to the reader as ‘Beloved’. Not that she’s wrong - we’re all beloved in God’s eyes - but it felt deliberately over-familiar. Again, it’s something that might have worked in a talk, but not in a book.

However, I kept reading, one chapter per day over nearly two months, and it was good to spend that time focussing on the Apostle John. It’s not a bad book, and contains much that’s useful about John, his life, and many insights into his writing. But when I’d finished I didn’t feel inclined to find another of Beth Moore’s books, at least for a while.

Recommended if you want to know more about John the Apostle and the books he wrote, in a structured way, if you don’t mind the informal and familiar style.

Review copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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