"Fools, Liars, Cheaters, and Other Bible Heroes"
Author: Barbara Hosbach
Publisher: Franciscan Media, 2012
I freely admit it. I loved this title from the moment I saw it.
Moreover, the title of Barbara Hosbach’s book did exactly what a title should. It grabbed my attention and made me curious about what exactly, might lie between the covers.
After all, the Bible is full of stories about human beings interacting with God. Feckless, broken, confused human beings. The beginning of the title is apt for sure and we can relate to it even now, thousands of years later. Who among us, brothers and sisters, couldn’t use "Fools, Liars and Cheaters" as the title of a family memoir maybe with ourselves in the staring role?
It’s the second half of the title that gave me pause – Bible heroes? That’s not to say there aren’t heroes in the Bible – Moses, David, and Joshua ... They had their faults but not in the same league as fools, liars and cheaters.
One look at the Table of Contents however, made clear Hosbach didn’t go near the "usual suspects." Several of the names were known to me, but not necessarily well known. Some didn’t ring a bell at all. While some of the people Hosbach chose for her book were movers and shakers of the ancient world, many more were average folks trying to live their lives as best they could. Another satisfying surprise, revealed in the Table of Contents – nearly half of the stories are about women. Yes, I counted. Yes, it matters.
Barbara Hosbach has worked with Catechumens and Candidates for nearly twenty years. This book is aimed squarely towards adults in RCIA formation however; Catholic school and Faith Formation teens and young adults are a great fit for this book as well.
Hosbach divides the book into stories from the Old and New Testaments. The stories from the Old Testament are culled from the books in the order they are found in the Bible. This gives the reader a general time frame and historical perspective. In both sections of the book she gives scriptural references as she tells the stories rather than as notes at the end of each chapter. Hosbach chooses her references well teaching the reader without them realizing they’re being taught. For example, in the story of Leah, Hosbach writes:
“After all, it was not through Jacob’s favorite wife or favorite sons that the promised Messiah came: It was through Leah’s son Judah. The book of Revelation refers to Jesus as ”the Lion of the tribes of Judah” (5.5). God also chose the tribe of Leah’s son Levi in lieu of the firstborn sons of Israel. Members of the tribe of Levi were appointed by God to serve in the tent of God’s presence (see Numbers 3:5-13).
Within each of her stories, Hosbach weaves these references, these scriptural threads, into the tapestry that is Salvation History.
At the end of each chapter, Hosbach gives the reader four questions for reflection and/or discussion. When I first received "Fools, Liars and Cheaters and Other Bible Heroes", I read some of these questions before starting the book and found the few I read, disappointing. They seemed too obvious, too simple, really. After reading the first story however, I found out how wrong my first impression was.
If I asked you, out of nowhere, so to speak, what skills or abilities do you have that you could share to further God’s kingdom you might be stumped. If I asked a teenager, I might be rewarded with a sigh, a roll of the eyes, a shrug of the shoulders and a barely audible, “I dunno”. Furthering God’s kingdom seems like a job for… somebody else.
But! Read Tabitha’s story as told by Hosbach first then ask yourself or your class that question and I guarantee the question will not disappoint. Now you have someone to think about, someone to talk about who relates to the question and just as importantly, someone you or your class can relate to as well. Tabitha wasn’t a queen; she wasn’t a ruler or leader or someone who had wealth and power. She was a seamstress. She looked out for her neighbors, she did what she could. After reading her story in Hosbach’s book, now you or your students or your kids can see that furthering God’s kingdom is something anyone can do.
At 137 pages, Hosbach’s book easily fits into a classroom or bedtime reading schedule.
Her book "Fools, Liars, Cheaters and Other Bible Heroes" can be found here.