Over a period of a few years, Mark Dever (pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist in Washington, DC) preached several series of sermons that each summarized one book of the Bible. Eventually he covered the whole thing, and these sermons are now available in two companion volumes from Crossway: The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept.
It’s hard to overestimate the value of these two books. The Bible is an overwhelming piece of literature, especially to new believers and those who didn’t grow up under much Bible teaching. Before you can really dive into its verse-by-verse depths, it’s nice to have a flyover view of what a given book is about. It’s even better if you can get a sense for where each book fits into the overall purpose of the Bible, which is to point to Christ. That’s what Dever does in these books, and he does it well.
The layout is straightforward: one chapter on each book, with intro chapters on the whole Bible, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Each chapter averages about 20 pages and could probably be read in about 45 minutes. The content is excellent, and Dever strikes a good balance between giving an overview and letting the text itself speak. He is great at seeing the important basics of each book, categorizing its major emphases, and placing it in the context of Scripture as a whole. Each of these chapters would be a great starting point for an in-depth study of that book of the Bible.
The result of Dever’s approach is a sort of combination introduction and macro-commentary on each book of the Bible. He doesn’t go into much detail on questions of authorship and the like, but tells you what you need to know. He doesn’t exegete every passage (obviously!) but gives a sort of road map for reading the book, and both his theology and his writing are solid. These are the kind of books you’d like every Christian family to have on their shelf– they get you excited about the Bible, prepare you to navigate it, and help you appreciate what you find.