Symon Hill’s new book The Upside-Down Bible looks at the teachings of Jesus on the very contemporary topics of money, sex and violence from a radical new angle. Symon doesn’t tell the reader what to believe and how to interpret Jesus’ parables and sayings. Instead, he invites us to ask more questions and to be open to new insights, even and especially from people who are newcomers to the Bible. After all, these are the people who approach the Bible with little or none of the baggage which comes from being immersed in traditional church teaching and interpretation.
Symon helpfully and skilfully weaves the work of many and varied Christian commentators and biblical interpreters into his reflections. However, the most interesting insights in the book remain those which come from people who are not biblical experts, many of whom are from other faith traditions or none.
I found myself rejoicing in Symon’s openness and deep respect for others, and his ability to encourage and listen to different viewpoints and opinions. His book has made me wonder why we don’t do more listening in church generally! His approach is a fitting tribute to Jesus himself, who often preferred to tell stories with ambiguous meanings and respond to questions with further questions, rather than give a direct answer.
Symon has made the book very accessible but never condescending, and I recommend it to all those who believe they know a lot about the Bible already, as well as to all those who know absolutely nothing. I’m sure it will be challenging and inspiring to all who read it.
The Upside-Down Bible is available for £9.99 in paperback or e-book. SCM members and Friends receive a 10% discount when buying the book through the SCM website. This review was originally printed in issue 152 of Movement Magazine, the Community Issue. To request a free copy of the magazine, please contact the office.