Frequently-Asked Questions About The Book
The following questions relate to How Often Would I Have Gathered You and my purposes in writing it. They may not answer all of the questions you may have about the book.
1. Question: When we consider the Old Testament itself, one fundamental question must be answered before we ask any others. Considering how little the Old Testament is actually read today and how many people believe that much, if not all, of it is pure fiction, we have to ask: Is the Old Testament really relevant to the lives of people in the Twenty-first Century?
A: You make an excellent point, and one that needs to be addressed. The world today is very different from what it was only a few short years ago. However, as we consider life in our modern age, it is readily apparent that the Old Testament has influenced the history and literature of the Judeo-Christian world more than any other book ever written. It contains the stories, the traditions, and the truths that countless generations of parents have handed down to their children and that have been preached with great power from many pulpits. Much of the great literature of the English language cannot be understood unless the reader is familiar with the Old Testament.
2. Question: What makes the stories in How Often Would I Have Gathered You different from all the other Bible stories?
A: There are actually six things that make these stories different from all others.One, they are written for adults and young adults rather than children.
Two, this book of stories is more comprehensive in its coverage and includes many wonderful, rarely-told and little-known stories that most Old Testament storybooks ignore.
Three, these stories add information and perspective from sources other than the Old Testament, such as the works of Flavius Josephus and our modern LDS scriptures.
Four, I have put Jehovah into these stories. Where the King James translators replaced the name Jehovah (JHVH) with “the LORD” (with the word Lord in small capital letters), I reversed that procedure. Jehovah is included in the stories—with significant effect.
Five, the stories are written in contemporary English rather than the English of King James. There is one exception, however. I have kept the old-style pronouns—Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine—when they refer to Deity. I have also kept the verb forms that relate to these pronouns. This makes the stories easier to understand and also shows reverence for Deity.
Six, the book’s study helps (including the pronunciation guide, the two indexes, the maps, the chart of the kings, and the copious footnotes) make How Often Would I Have Gathered You a very useful book for both teachers and students.
3. Question: Many people today do not think the Old Testament has much relevance for our times. How much attention does it really deserve?
A: The great influence of the Old Testament on the lives and destinies of mankind can scarcely be debated, even though—for various reasons—it is not given the attention it deserves today. The Old Testament is one of the most important books ever written. It is, after all, the word of God and much of its content relates to our own time. The main problem, I believe, is that most people do not understand it and are thus unable to find real meaning in it. That is one of the reasons How Often Would I Have Gathered You was written.
4. Question: With the abundance of Old Testament storybooks that already exists and the fact that the Old Testament is normally a hard sell, what made you think you could write a book about the Old Testament that people would actually buy and read?
A: That very thought certainly made me hesitate before I started writing. However, contrary to what many people believe about the Old Testament being unpopular, I think many people have a genuine hunger for something to help them understand the Old Testament better. I believe the real issue is lack of understanding and not unpopularity. Nearly everyone I have talked to about my stories says they would love to have a book like this to help them. Though the abundance of Old Testament storybooks is a real issue, most of those other books were written primarily in simplistic language for children and do not fill the bill.
5. Question: On the issue of contemporary English, can the reader not get the same thing by reading one of the many modern Bible translations?
A: I suppose that is true in a sense, but there are a couple of significant differences between my book and these modern translations. For one, my stories are more readable because they are in story form and because they exclude many of the tedious redundancies and unnecessary sordid details that must be included when you do a direct translation. I was able to choose just those stories and those things of most worth, while the translator must deal with every chapter and every verse. Secondly, in several instances the Old Testament tells the same story in two, and sometimes three, places. In those cases, I have tried to reconcile these different versions into just one story.
6. Question: Your title is interesting. How did you choose it and what is its significance?
A: You will recognize, of course, that the title does not actually come from the Old Testament itself. It is similar to the statement made by Jesus (as recorded in the King James version of the New Testament) as a prelude to His sermon given on the Mount of Olives about the destruction of Jerusalem and the calamities to precede His Second Coming (see Matthew 23:37). However, the actual language used in my title is slightly different and comes from Doctrine and Covenants 43:24, which reads: “O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not” [emphasis added]! This statement applies to all ages of the world and has particular significance as it relates to the wayward, idol-worshipping Children of Israel in the Old Testament. How Often Would I Have Gathered You tells the stories of these people.
7. Question: Other than the stories, what other features does your book have that might be of value to the student of the Old Testament?
A: Some of these were mentioned in my answer to question 2. Let me just note again some of the helpful tools available to assist the reader. These include:
*Extensive footnotes giving background information and insights that provide understanding and perspective. I have also used footnotes to cross-reference between related stories,
*A comprehensive pronunciation guide,
*Twenty original illustrations,
*Seven maps for geographical perspective,
*A chart of the kings of Judah and Israel during the divided monarchy,
*Two comprehensive indexes that make the book a valuable reference tool as well as a storybook—a name index and a subject index.
I should point out that I have not tried to draw conclusions from the stories or to point out morals or lessons to be learned from the stories. The stories are essentially unembellished and free from fictionalizing. I have only attempted to tell the stories as the scriptures tell them and to let them speak for themselves.
8. Question: Because your stories are so complete, was it your intention that people should read your book as a replacement of the Old Testament?
A: Actually, my intention was for people to use my stories as a help to understanding the Old Testament. The ideal thing is for the reader to use the Old Testament and my book together.
9. Question: After all of your study of the Old Testament, do you have a favorite story?
A: That is a hard question because there are so many good ones. However, if I had to choose one, it would probably be the story of Ruth, which I have entitled “The Loyal Moabitess.” That story, unlike many stories in the Old Testament, is a happy one and tells of righteousness being rewarded. Stories with such a positive message during the period of the judges are rare.
The Old Testament: understand it, love it!