I highly recommend this book so much that I wrote the Foreword. It is a gift to you, unless you wish to give a donation to Release International. I have spent lot of money written about the Scriptures that have had nothing like the imagination or insight of this.
Back in the 1990s a Scottish band called Lies Damned Lies recorded a rock record called Lamentations. It was a musical and artistic take on that Old Testament book that can sometimes seem difficult to penetrate. The soundscapes and songs of the record took me into the book in ways that I hadn’t felt before.
It made me wonder. Why are theologians opening up literature to us? We have laid the poetry, prose, proverbs songs, prophecies and stories of the Bible at the mercy of scientific and mathematical interpretation. I began to long for artists who could go under and over and imagine what went on round the corner of the text. I wanted my sermons to be higher, wider and deeper.
Those who know me will know that I am a fan of the Irish band U2. I have spent an awful lot of time reading everything about the band and their work, particularly the theology within. I know so much about them that on the one occasion that I met their singer Bono he had nothing to tell me that I didn’t know. I could have finished his sentences. I was sharing this with a friend who said, “Ah, you know all the facts Steve but do you know how he feels”.
Could that be said of our Bible knowledge. We’ve read it all. We know it. Well, we know the facts. We have systemised a theology. We’ve laid down a code of behaviour. That is all good but it can be a little cold and calculated. All those characters in the variety of vignettes of brokenness and redemption strewn across the canon. Do we know how they feel? Do we know how God feels? How Jesus feels? Do we know how those feelings might engage with our own emotions - our holy hearts as well as heads!
Colin Neill has a passion to help us engage with the Scriptures in fresh ways. He brings to that a pastoral heart. He has taken time, an incredible amount of time, to get inside the Bible stories, stay true to the text but imagine more and get into the psyche of the main players. Colin then takes his research and uses his fertile imagination and creative writing skills to set us down gently into the lives of no less than 75 stories. He unpacks not only what is written about the characters but also what isn’t. We talk a lot about Bible characters but I wonder if we actually know their character.
Inside Holy Heads and Hearts is an incredible gift to all of us who are seeking to engage with the Scriptures, whether in our personal spiritual development or attempting to teach and preach it to others. This is a book in which an artist opens up the art of the Bible. I will use it in my own personal devotions. I am already finding it a rich resource to crack the codes of texts and contexts as I prepare to preach every week.
Thank you so much my friend.