On The Bible for Normal People’s website, you can buy a T-shirt that says “all theology has an adjective.” An artist’s theology might be different from a scholarly one, for example, and Black and Indigenous traditions might hold truths that are hidden from many white theologians.
The Bible for Normal People is a podcast that helps Christians navigate and appreciate this vastness of biblical interpretation. It is hosted by Pete Enns, a biblical scholar and author, and Jared Byas, a seminary graduate and former philosophy professor.
In most episodes, Enns and Byas interview biblical scholars and theologians about their work. Recent topics have included Second Temple Judaism, the Jewish identity of early Christians, the meaning of “inspiration,” and the importance of diversity in biblical scholarship. The podcast takes this last point especially to heart, featuring non-white scholars like Miguel De La Torre, Wil Gafney, and Yii-Jan Lin.
Enns and Byas are friendly, thoughtful interviewers, and their questions keep the podcast accessible to listeners of all theological backgrounds. For example, in a conversation about reading the Bible “from the margins,” Enns asks De La Torre to apply this approach to a specific biblical passage. De La Torre points to the fourth commandment: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God'' (Ex. 20:9-10a). For well-to-do Christians in America, De La Torre says, this is a reminder of the importance of rest. For the systemically unemployed around the world, it’s a demand that our societies provide full employment to everyone so that they can fulfill God’s command to work. Despite the podcast’s scholarly focus, it’s full of these concrete, eye-opening bits of wisdom.
Not all the podcast’s guests hold a Ph.D., however. Enns and Byas also talk to activists, artists, pastors, and journalists about what the Bible means for their lives and work. In one episode, Aboriginal Australian activist Brooke Prentis connects the creation stories of Genesis to the Aboriginal “Dreaming” tradition. Singer-songwriter Audrey Assad relates her journey from fundamentalism to Catholicism. And journalist Jeff Chu talks about grief’s role in the Bible and in Christian life.
Each episode is self-contained, and many tread similar ground, so there’s no need to start from the beginning or proceed chronologically. Don’t expect to agree with Enns, Byas, or their guests on everything; the podcast’s purpose is exploration and understanding, not debate. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself fist-pumping at some episodes and brow-furrowing at others. But I almost always pull out my earbuds with renewed wonder at the Bible and the ragtag worldwide community that loves it.
The Bible for Normal People is a weekly reminder that our theological differences don’t cloud our understanding of God—they enrich it. God, our gracious heavenly editor, loves our adjectives. (Apple Podcasts)