For Christmas I was given Bit Part Players of the Bible and Bit Part Players of the Bible – Act 2 by Ray Markham. I’ve dipped in and out of them a number of times. I found them unexpectedly fascinating and useful books.
Who exactly was Michal? What did Korah do? What can you remember about Achan? In book 1, Ray Markham gives centre stage to over 100 lesser-known Bible characters, from whose lives we can gain encouragement and learn valuable lessons for today. Fascinating because 27 ‘bit part players’ – from Lot to Zerubbabel – emerge from the Bible’s pages, brought to life by the author’s unusually didactic writing style.
I could really put flesh on the bones of the men and women he wrote about as he assembled all the details given in scripture, many of which could be missed in normal Bible reading. He stays true to scripture, giving references, but he manages to tease out the threads of each life and make a satisfying whole.
In Bit Part Players – Act 2;, he looks at some of the lesser-known bit part players’ of the New Testament; people who play only a small part on the biblical stage and are therefore often overlooked or largely ignored. For example, Ray retells some very familiar stories through the eyes of people who came into contact with Jesus and the apostles, such as the shepherds and the Magi, the woman at the well, blind Bartimeus, Paul’s travelling companions and friends, and Early Church leaders.
Ray aims to portray the characters in a way that will encourage and challenge us to fully play our own parts on the stage on which God has placed us, being mindful of the fact that we never know whose life we may be influencing. He excels in retelling the stories with perception, insight, wisdom and humour, including a wealth of factual and contextual information which brings the events to life before our eyes.