Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI, 2013
Having read The Ragamuffin Gospel by the American Franciscan Brennan Manning, who died earlier this year, I was pleased to receive a review copy of this edition of the New International Version of the Bible. It is a standard NIV Bible except for the inclusion of reflections, devotions and quotes from Manning at appropriate points in the text. For instance, turning to Luke 15 and the parable of the prodigal son, there is a passage from Manning's work that talks about the message of Jesus in this parable: "(Jesus) insisted that his Father is crazy with love, that God is a kooky God who can scarcely bear to be without us." At other places in the text the relevance of the quotes is less obvious; I'm not sure why a Manning quote about the meaning of Christmas - "the promise of God who came in history and who comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory" - is attached to the setting of Canaan's boundaries in Numbers 34.
There is a brief introduction by Manning, setting out his view of Scripture as "God's personal memoirs," but there is little explanation of why this Ragamuffin edition was prepared, other than his mention that "some of my thoughts (are) sprinkled throughout...but they serve only to highlight God's extravagant love." Nor is there a biography of Manning, so someone who knows little about him will not learn much more from this Bible itself, other than getting the flavour of his writing. However, the curious reader can always look him up on Wikipedia.
But this Ragamuffin Bible is a helpful devotional tool for anyone who is already familiar with Manning's grace-filled work or who just feels like one of the bedraggled, beat-up and brokenhearted (and who doesn't at times?). The grace of the God who is crazy with love shines through the words of Scripture and the Manning quotes.