Character studies can be a mixed bag. Often the teacher will find what they want to find in a character’s story; proof-texting by means of name-dropping. Often studies will be driven by the teacher’s own agenda or fancies, moreso than a sensitivity towards the interests of the Biblical text(s). Often we will hear moralising tales not too different to “___ is bad; don’t be bad.” or “____ is good; be good too”. Alas, character studies are a dangerous game to play. So can they be done right? Enter Exhibit A: Family Portraits: Character Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel by Randy McCracken (website). Family Portraits has restored my faith in character studies being both an academic and yet devotional pursuit. The key here is that Randy has a wonderful grasp of the biblical text of 1-2 Samuel, and his numerous practical applications are driven by the text and not his own imagination. Here we will not find fanciful connections or interpretations of character’s motives, but neither will we find dry academia for academia’s sake. These two pitfalls are cancelled out through Randy’s tightrope-walking performance.
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I have the privilege to interview Randy McCracken on his newly released book Family Portraits: Character Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel. Randy is a fellow teacher at Calvary Chapel Bible College York and all-around great guy! I’m trilled that he has finally released this book and though I am biased, I highly recommend Family Portraits. It is a uniquely academic, yet devotional, collection of character studies in 1 & 2 Samuel.
My good friend and fellow teacher at Calvary Chapel Bible College York, Randy McCracken, has just released a book resulting from his 10+ years teaching 1 & 2 Samuel called Family Portraits: Character Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel. This book has a unique blend of academic rigour and devotional warmth. Unlike many character studies, it is firmly grounded in the text and insights spring from in-depth study (rather than imagination and/or speculation).