Reviews of A Carpenter's View of the Bible

By Joseph Wartick, blog Always Have A Reason

A Carpenter's View of the Bible (hereafter CVB) by Charlie March is a unique book. It is part memoire, part Bible study, and part an archaeological/carpentry primer. 

Throughout the book, there is a palpable sense of wonder with God's creation. March delights in the hexagonal patterns found throughout nature, from the bee's hive to the cowfish (7). Moreover, the book is structured around this sense of wonder; filled with the assertion that God is a "builder" (2-3), and our building reflects His. 

There is a diversity of topics within CVB, and this sometimes takes away from the cohesiveness of the book, which at a few points seems to flounder. However, March covers the diversity of topics with a flair and insight that keeps it going despite the sometimes disconnected nature of topics. 

On the topic of God's destruction of the peoples of Palestine in the wake of the Hebrews, March writes "God's perfect justice and righteousness is defined by his treatment toward disobedience and immorality, for which the typical response is his corresponding punishment. He reacts harshly against sin... (28)." He continues on to discuss how Noah's Ark and the Ark of the Covenant show "divine-human collaboration" which can be seen as a "redemptive act" (29). 

The joy of God's "building" plan interwoven with mankind's struggles therein is a strand March works throughout CVB. His discussion of the Tower of Babel and idols reflects the kind of interesting interplay between memoir, biblical study, and carpentry I hinted at earlier. The Tower, argues March, can be seen as a kind of attempt at protection from another flood--an attempt to reach above the waters and strike at God. The result is "a humanistic building that challenges God's law" (41). Rather than reacting with destruction in this case, God confuses the languages, thus resulting in a kind of third chance for mankind as they are forced to rebuild once more. But they fail again, by constructing idols. March points out the strangeness that is an idol: it is something that the craftsman must make himself, and then worship. One might rightly ask, "Dude, how does that chunk of wood you harvested from the forest become a god?" (48). 

But humans didn't always fail. March writes that the construction of altars, 'heaps', and standing stones is a "physical act" which serves as a "physical marker in our lives to remind us of the passing of significant events" (49). 

The chapter on Jericho is where many of the themes in CVB really come together. March not only makes an interesting argument about the symbolism of the wall, but he also delves into the archaeological research done on Jericho and discusses the faith of Rahab. March argues that the key to the story is the wall (again, the elements of memoir remain as he remembers a show, The Time Tunnel, he used to watch). The wall is a symbol of our lives as well as the kind of barriers we can put up to God (62), but they also symbolize strength. March makes an interesting argument that perhaps the entire purpose of God's rerouting to Jericho wasn't so much to eliminate a threat to His people (a plausible argument) as it was a specific salvific act. He argues that God was rescuing the "little lamb who was caught up in the thicket"--Rahab, among the people in Jericho. "[S]imilarly," argues March, God would "divert the course of history for you and me" (75). One could draw out the implications here and say God did do this in Christ. 

Again, March's discussion of archaeology in conjunction with Sodom is enlightening, and readers will find his discussion there interesting. But March doesn't leave it with archaeology, he goes on to note that it is important to realize that Sodom was not some ugly town, but a "cool" one which would have the kind of appeal for God's people that other sinful locales may have for His people today (111-112). 

Thinking about Jesus is, of course, a central task of CVB. He is the savior, but we should not forget that "the principle of redemption is not only an event of salvation but an ongoing lifestyle program" (136). 

CVB is a fresh, if sometimes disjointed, look at the Bible. March draws from his own life, detailed analysis of archaeology and history, and Scripture in order to weave together an enriching work on the Bible. Interestingly, the book's central purpose is withheld until it is almost over. March writes that "To live a full life is to build according to the precepts of Scripture drawn to our scale by the Great Architect who set the code from which we should build our lives." This is the theme throughout the book: our lives are a work in progress, and it is not just God's work but our own. It is filled with wonderful parallels between God's creative activity and our own. Choose wisely how to build.

By Terence T. Delaney, Christian Book Notes

I am sure some who would read A Carpenter's View of the Bible would laugh and mock the author for stretching the Scriptures to say what he wants to say. I am not that person. Having been a construction worker myself, I found the insights presented by Charlie March to be refreshing and enjoyable. For example, I will never look at the story of Rahab the same again. 

What is more, his insight into archaeological findings and studies proved to be extremely valuable in teaching the reader the importance of the carpenter's view. Much understanding has been added to the way Jesus Christ lived his life before entering into the ministry. Since not much is said in the Bible concerning the first thirty years of his life, we must lean heavily on archaeological evidence and March does a wonderful job of weaving that information into the message while maintaining a Scipture alone approach to our understanding of what the Bible teaches. 

I commend Charlie March's creativity in writing this book. Even more, I commend him for staying true to the Word of God on every page. 

If you are a carpenter, then you will most certainly want to pick up a copy of A Carpenter's View of the Bible. In so doing, you will find that after reading it, you will begin to see the Bible from a totally different perspective. I also believe you will find that you will be more ready to share your faith with your fellow carpenters in a contextualize manner that does not strip away the meaning of the message. Even if you are not a carpenter, you will definitely find this book to be an interesting read.

By James Cox, Midwest Book Review

A carpenter takes after God in their drive to create. "A Carpenter's View of the Bible" are musings of Charlie March, as he draws a connection between Biblical narrative and the way of the carpenter. With a bit of humor and drawing on many Biblical stories and their connection to Carpentry, Charlie March speaks on everything from the ark to the Tower of Babel. "A Carpenter's View of the Bible" is thoughtful and recommended reading.

By Richard Blake, co-founder of Christian Education Resources, Amazon Top 1000 Book Reviewer

"A Carpenter's View of the Bible" combines biblical constructive narratives, symbolism, and scholarly knowledge. Charlie March takes the reader on a unique adventure in Bible study by providing a panoramic view of the scriptures as seen through the eyes of a carpenter and builder. 

I was intrigued by the chapter dealing with the Tower of Babel and the idea of it being the "epitome of jobsite miscommunication." The wrap up chapter "Sawdust: Last Word from the Jobsite" provides additional insight into the author's life and values. I particularly enjoyed the detailed illustrative drawings, explanations of symbolism, chapter summaries, and references to architecture and archeology. I was impressed with the clarity of March's writing. He clearly recognizes that he is writing for the layman and for an advanced reading audience. Both are rewarded with rich insights and new perspectives on Biblical truths. 

March has done extensive study on ancient architecture and religion in the Middle East. He has completed theological studies, and has experienced years of rich personal Bible study in preparation for teaching adult Bible classes. His research for the book is well documented with end notes and a comprehensive bibliography. Both of these are excellent resource tools for further reading and extensive study for readers that wish to go deeper in their study of the Bible. 

"A Carpenter's View of the Bible" will enrich your study, your teaching, or your sermons and provides good reading from Charlie's discussion of the Genesis account of creation through to the City of Heaven now under construction.