Baker Academic has a brand new website! Click Here To Visit:

Enjoying the Bible

Literary Approaches to Loving the Scriptures

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase

More Options


Christianity Today 2022 Book Award of Merit (Beautiful Orthodoxy)

Many Christians view the Bible as an instruction manual. While the Bible does provide instruction, it can also captivate, comfort, delight, shock, and inspire. In short, it elicits emotion--just like poetry. By learning to read and love poetry, says literature professor Matthew Mullins, readers can increase their understanding of the biblical text and learn to love God's Word more. Each chapter includes exercises and questions designed to help readers put the book's principles and practices into action.

Introduction: The Hatred of Poetry and Why It Matters
1. How Reading Literature Became a Quest for Meaning
2. The Bible Is Literature
3. Meaning Is More Than Message
4. Not Anything
5. Reading with Our Guts
6. Delight and Instruction
7. Why We Worship
8. Changing Our Approach
9. How to Read--General Sense
10. How to Read--Central Emotion
11. How to Read--Formal Means
12. A Short Compendium of Forms
Conclusion: Negative Capability and Habituation
Afterword: Reading Aloud


"What if reading the Bible is a matter not just of discerning what it says but of attending to how it speaks? Then reading the Bible is more like experiencing a poem than processing a rule book. In this marvelous game changer of a book, Matthew Mullins invites readers to encounter the Bible as literature, not to diminish its revelatory authority but to break open its luminary capacity. I'm so glad this book is in the world."

James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy, Calvin University; editor in chief, Image Journal; author of You Are What You Love and On the Road with Saint Augustine

"The expertise and joy Matthew Mullins brings to reading and understanding the literary nature of the Bible will help you not only to enjoy the Bible more but to enjoy poetry, literature, and (dare I say?) life more too. This is a book I will recommend widely and often."

Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

"Enjoying the Bible is a work of art that beautifully encourages us to read Scripture with the fullness of our being. For those who consume Scripture as an intellectual exercise, this book challenges you to experience God's Word with your emotions intact. This read will captivate and inspire you."

Walter R. Strickland II, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Mullins offers readers of the Bible what is urgently needed in our day: an aesthetics of reading. Mullins's vision for biblical reading (not biblical interpretation!) moves beyond hermeneutical techniques, directing us toward being captured and captivated by the Word of God. As a biblical scholar, I find myself drawn to this grand vision. Erudite, funny, and penetrating, Mullins wears his considerable scholarship lightly, inviting others to delight in the banquet that is reading the Bible. I want a place at that table."

Heath A. Thomas, president and professor of Old Testament, Oklahoma Baptist University

The Author

  1. Matthew Mullins
    Rebecca Hankins

    Matthew Mullins

    Matthew Mullins (PhD, University of North Carolina at Greensboro) is associate professor of English and history of ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mullins is the author of Postmodernism in Pieces and has written for Los Angeles...

    Continue reading about Matthew Mullins


Christianity Today 2022 Book Award of Merit (Beautiful Orthodoxy)

"Warning: This book will change the way you read the Bible! Mullins offers a definitive explanation and defense of how the Bible, like Jesus, is both truth and grace. Rather than coming to the Bible with a hermeneutic of information, we're invited to see how the Bible itself requires a hermeneutic of love. The former uses the Bible to extract instructions, whereas the latter seeks to understand the Bible according to its fullest function: to captivate, delight, entice, comfort, confound, and even shock the reader. The Bible is as much a masterpiece as it is a manual, as much a work of art as it is an argument."

Edward W. Klink III,

Christianity Today

"I was not expecting to enjoy a book about the Psalms and other literary aspects of the Bible, but then, that's the point of this book--to reinvigorate our reading of God's Word. Mullins inspires readers to see the literary beauty of Scripture so that we are driven to read more, rather than simply rushing through particular passages to find the main idea. Perhaps the most convicting part of the book for me--a Christian apologist who frequently focuses on matters of the brain rather than the heart--was the oft-repeated refrain that our emotions and intellect work together in comprehending Scripture."

Lindsey Medenwaldt,

Christianity Today

"A sad truth of our time is that many people who want to know God attempt to do so without wanting to know the Bible. There are many reasons, including the way in which many who do know God have framed the Bible as an instruction manual. Charitably, and with considerable dexterity, Mullins pushes back on reductionist notions of studying the Bible as a repository of information. Instead, he highlights the literary nature of the Scriptures to promote reading the Bible with developing delight, emotional investment, and transformative impact. I can't wait to place this book in the hands of others, as I believe it will help a great many reconnect reading the Bible with knowing God and relating to him."

Mark Ryan,

Christianity Today