For some, there are big question marks regarding how to approach Scripture. The New Testament alone has twenty-seven books, and someone might suggest to start with John or Romans even though they’re not the first in canonical order. Once the reading starts, the cultural differences between our modern milieu and first century Palestine can make certain things hard to understand. Readers who are in want for a guide through this very important book written in a very different time may look no further than Eric Larson’s Frameworks for their navigational needs.
Frameworks is designed to be accessible and unintimidating, introducing the New Testament book by book in words and graphics arranged on the page in simple, uncluttered layouts. The chapters begin with metaphors relevant to the books’ themes, running the gamut from skyscrapers to hurricanes to the goddess Fortuna (in the case of that introduction, the anecdote describes how she contrasts with Jesus). The chapters include tools like pictures, maps, outlines, verses to look out for, and “Did you know” factoids. Larson’s insightful commentary and invitations to spiritual reflection promise to also satisfy the interest of the seasoned Bible reader who does not find navigating the New Testament all that challenging.
The content of Frameworks has its overlaps with what might be discussed by non-religious scholars, such as the gospel of Matthew being written with the audience of a Pharisaic community in mind. However, despite overlaps, Frameworks is not the stuff of your Oxford Study Bible footnotes. Larson is a believer, writing to and for believers and people interested in viewing the Bible from a Christian perspective. Larson does not hem and haw, trying to cover all his bases by prefacing, “Well…not everyone believes this particular interpretation, and you know, whatever floats your boat, but…” Larson will point-blank refer to Jesus as “our Savior,” and similar titles of divinity, from time to time. While Larson makes no apologies about his faith, he also does not digress into compare and contrast essays about how his is better than yours.
Being a believer myself, the last thing I’d have a problem is Jesus sincerely being addressed as “Savior.” I did my best in trying to find a problem with Frameworks, because it felt The Thing for a book reviewer to do. In the end, all I could come up with was the absence of the Greek vocabulary Larson shares in his Bible study classes (which I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on). But in the interest of staying concise and equipping readers instead of bogging them down, I appreciate the lack of the lexicon. Frameworks as it is accomplishes its purpose: giving an introduction to the New Testament in a format that balances information and simplicity.