*Epic by Tim Challies

Epic takes readers around the globe tracking down fascinating artifacts of Church history.

*Epic: An Around-the-World Journey through Christian History by Tim Challies. Zondervan, 2020, 167 pages.

Reading Level: Teen, ages 15-18

Recommended for: ages 12-up

This unusual history book is the result of an unexpected meeting between Tim Challies and a stranger who was “just passing through” and wanted to meet for breakfast. Over bacon and eggs, Challies’ new acquaintance posed a question most of us can only dream of hearing: “If you could take on any project, and money was no object, what would you want to do?”

Turns out, there was a group of Christian businessmen who appreciated Challies’ work and wanted to fund a dream project. Challies already had a project in mind, and had completed a proposal just the night before—talk about God’s perfect timing! Within a week the money was in the bank and Challies was lining up interviews and plane reservation. A very intense year of travel began, beginning with Rome and Jerusalem and expanding to six continents, tracking down artifacts, both well-known and obscure, that have played a role in the history of the church. Epic is much more than a travelogue, it’s a swift tour of both geography and history that should fill the reader with awe and wonder for what the Holy Spirit has accomplished in this world over the centuries.

The focus is on objects: “My hope was that by listening to the small stories told by these remnants of Christian history, I would begin to understand the larger story and its epic unfolding.” Small things matter to God, too: he who designed both meteors and microbes packs all things with significance. The Gutenberg Bible and the Wittenberg church door are well known and acknowledged, but what about John Bunyan’s jug, Andrew Fuller’s snuffbox, and the front porch of the Bonnie Brae House? What small steps led to mighty consequences? And what objects, people, and places will figure in the future of the church?

Epic is history we can pick up in our hands, as the author literally did. The 33 short chapters, interspersed with six “Quick Looks,” make it ideal for pick-up-and-put-down reading as well as family read-alouds. If you can’t take the trip yourself, this book is the next best thing—and, together with the 10-part documentary (see the trailer link below), almost like being there.

My only complaint: the type is too small. Or my eyes are too old.

*Indicates a starred review.

Overall rating: 5 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 5
  • Artistic/literary value: 4.75

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Related on the web:

  • Watch the trailer for the 10-part Epic Documentary series. (Also available from Amazon.)

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Janie

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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