Galatians for You is a devotional style commentary written not by a scholar, although Keller does have an advanced degree, but by a pastor. It is written, so we learn in the introduction, to read, to feed and/or to lead. One could read it from cover to cover as a stand alone book, use it as a devotional or for personal mediation on the book of Galatians, or use it as a reference tool among other excellent references available in preparation for leading a study or small group discussion.
The layout is interesting and very user friendly. Portions of the text are grouped together and the chapter and verse designations are listed in the header of each page for that section, (ie, Galatians 1:1-9 is the first section) but the individual verse references are printed in bold type throughout the text, allowing a reader to scan a page and quickly identify the specific verse or passage being sought. Additionally, words that may need further definition are printed in grey, identifying them as words found in the glossary at the back of the book. Finally for each group of verses, there are two sets of questions for reflection or meditation.
Despite the first possible use of the book, I found it very difficult to simply read this book cover to cover for the purpose of review, primarily because it references back to Galatians so often (a positive thing in a devotional or reference book) that I was continually stopping to read the mentioned passage. While it may be possible to read it through, it is not the strongest use of this book, nor is it the best way to explore the book of Galatians.
As a reference book this one is pretty basic. It assumes no advance knowledge of biblical history, or even the biblical narrative, and takes a pretty simple approach to the original languages and cultural context of the book. I would hope that by the time someone was preparing to lead a group of any size, they would be beyond a book of this type and able to use and understand a more traditional commentary and other reference materials, such as the excellent works mentioned in the bibliography of this one.
However, as a devotional, or small group study, this is a wonderful resource. I would highly recommend it for new believers who want to study the bible, but don’t know where to begin. Keller’s approachable language, coupled with the useability of the layout, make it a wonderful tool for both new believers, or for those who have read books about the bible, or collections of devotional thoughts, but have infrequently (or never) walked verse by verse through an entire book of the bible. The questions for reflection are probing and open enough for group discussion, and are always on point. The text is covered completely, and chronologically, but also applicably, and personally.
This is one of a series of “for you” titles coming from Tim Keller and The Good Book Company. I hope they will bring with them a renewed interest in this sort of verse by verse study of the Bible.
I received no compensation for this post. I was provided a hardback edition for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one. I keep a disclosure statement here.