Rob Bellingham, Elder at Rotorua Baptist Church, has released a 1000-page poetic interpretation of the complete Bible. He tells us about his book and inspiration…

It is called “The Bible in Verse” and is subtitled by the American publisher “A Poetic Interpretation of Holy Scripture.”

It’s the complete Bible in rhyming couplets that will resonate with lovers of poetry and hopefully inspire many who don’t currently read to Bible much to re-engage with the message of the most important book in the world. I can imagine a Christian rapper using the script or a songwriter creating a musical version of the Bible’s most loved passages.

The Bible is a remarkable book declaring God has a plan for the world. It comprises 66 books written by many individuals and groups over 1500 years. But it has a central theme of the unique birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah of the First Testament and Saviour of the New Testament.

The Bible in Verse has been a labour of love over the last twelve years, during which I had a computer stolen and lost a third of the text. The project began when I sensed the whisper of God suggesting I might retell the story in poetry. When I tried to do so, I found that it was possible with the narratives, history, psalms, theology, doctrine, and even genealogies that make up the holy scriptures.

Psalm 23 is one of the best-known passages of the Bible. In rhyming couplets, it reads:

“With the Lord as my shepherd, I have all I need,

By quiet streams I’ve peace, In green pastures I feed.

My soul he restores, and right paths of life shows,

At death’s door brings relief, in adversity provides.

His rod and staff comfort me, oil’s on my head,

My cup overflows, I bask in mercy and good.

All the days of my life, I’ll follow his way,

And in his house forever, I’m blest to stay.”

My background as the writer is farming in Northland, training for the ministry at Baptist College, and serving in New Zealand churches for ten years before a decade of missionary service in India and Bangladesh. I earned a doctorate in Christian Social Ethics from Eastern Baptist Seminary in Philadelphia, USA, in the mid-1980s. I have worked for Tearfund and World Vision and have been the international leader of Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor. As a retiree, I enjoy gardening and tennis and completed the Bible in Verse after a terminal cancer diagnosis. Not many treatises of 1000 pages have been penned by New Zealand Christian writers, so I hope and pray this volume may inspire Christians and seekers of truth and evoke a deeper love for God as it has done for me, the writer.

More excerpts from The Bible in Verse:

Genesis 1. Creation

In the beginning, bereshith, the Genesis text begins,

God created heaven, earth, and many other things.

The world was dark, shapeless, with no life or light,

God said “Let’s have light,” so made day and night.

Water, water everywhere, in heaven and down below,

God sorted into clouds and rain, sea, lakes and snow.

Earth was next on the agenda, of God’s creative plan,

He filled it with plants, trees, fish, animals, birds, man.

He made stars, sun and moon, seasons hot and cold,

“Be fruitful and multiply” all creatures were told.

God said “Good it’s good I like it, good 6 times good,”

“Very good” he said last, as humans before him stood.

Isaiah 53. The Suffering Servant                                              

“Who has known and believed our report?

He grew before God, a tender shoot in dry dirt.”

“With no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

Despised, rejected, he bore sorrow and deep pain.”

“Like one others can’t look at, he was shunned,

Surely he took our frailties, our sorrows were borne.”

“Still we thought him judged, punished by God,

But he was pierced and crushed by sins we did.”

“His pain bought us peace, wounds took sin away,

Though all we like sheep are prone to stray.”

“The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all,

Before accuser, abuser, as a lamb he took the fall.”

“Oppression and injustice swept him away,

Death took him from earth our sin debt to pay.”

“He shared grave with the rich and with wicked,

Though he’d done no violence, said no falsehood.”

“Yet it was in God’s plan to crush and hurt him,

And let his life be forfeit as our guilt offering.”

“But his life is not over, for he’ll see his offspring,

After anguish of soul, he’ll be light of life shining.”

”By humble submission he’ll make our sins gone,

He’ll be called great and strongest of the strong.”

“He poured his life out unto death as if sinner,

And while dying prayed for every wrong doer.”

Matthew 18. Humility

“Who’s the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Asked one disciple on behalf of the other eleven.

Jesus called a little child to stand among them,

“Be like a child to enter kingdom of heaven.”

“Whoever humbles themself as this small child here,

Is top in God’s kingdom where children are dear.”

“If you welcome a child you‘re welcoming me,

If you cause one to sin there’s a grim penalty.”

“It’d be better to drown by a millstone in the sea,

Whatever causes you to sin, get rid of quickly.”

“If it’s foot or hand, cut it off, if an eye pluck it out,

Better half blind, crippled than on heaven miss out.”

“So don’t look down on innocent young children,

They’ve angels who see face of Father in heaven.”

Philippians 2. Humility

Life in Christ makes you strong, his love comforts you,

You fellowship with the Spirit, to many kind deeds do.

Have the same notions and love, be one in soul, mind,

Don’t act from selfish ambition, be boastful or unkind.

Always think others better than self, place others first,

Don’t chase self-interest, have attitude of Jesus Christ.

“He always had God’s nature, but gave up equality,

Freely surrendered all he, that he might servant be.”

“Became a human being, was humble and obedient,

Till he died on cross, but God raised him triumphant.”

“God gave him greatest name so at the name of Jesus,

Beings in heaven, earth, below, will fall on knees.”

“And all openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord,

To the glory of God the Father,” this is God’s word.

Available online via Amazon (including Kindle), and Life Rich Publishing (including e-book).

Photo: Supplied by Rob Bellingham

Read More Articles

From the President: The stories of our ethnic congregations Image
July 23, 2024 | Susan Osborne Channel: 2144749

From the President: The stories of our ethnic congregations

A reflection on the questions, challenges, and approaches our Baptist family of different cultures have and the need to learn from them.

“Introduction to Christian Leadership” is all go! Image
July 22, 2024 | Nicola Mountfort Channel: 2144749

“Introduction to Christian Leadership” is all go!

Carey’s new course is now NZQA-approved and enrolments open 30 July!

Assembly Council Meeting June 2024 Image
July 18, 2024 | Rod Robson Channel: 2144749

Assembly Council Meeting June 2024

Time for more feedback on proposed changes to the Baptist Union Constitution | Continuing search for new property for key Baptist entities | Relationship with…