What’s the Difference Between a Book Summary and a Book Review?

Published on April 21, 2014 by Igor Mateski

Our weekly Book Summaries here at Books At a Glance are available only to our premium members, and it was suggested that we explain what you are missing if you’ve not joined!

First, what is the difference between a Book Summary and a Book Review? The easy way to say it is that a Book Review is evaluative in nature and interactive, whereas a Summary is simply a condensed re-presentation of the book’s contents. In a Review our staff will tell you generally what a book is about and then offer comments assessing the work, commending or criticizing this or that about its contents, and so on. But in our Summaries we “crunch” the book into 7-10 pages, condensing the argument(s) of each chapter into a paragraph or two.

Book summaries are the heart of what we do here. They are designed to help you keep up to date and informed regarding new and significant publications. After reading a given summary you will know what that book is about and how it develops its thoughts. From there you can decide if that is all you need or if you should purchase the book yourself to study the matter further.

“Executive summaries” like these have a long and proven value in the business world, and we are excited to bring the same to Christian readers and students of biblical studies.

As an example, we posted a summary of Greg Beale’s The Morality of God in the Old Testament (P&R, 2013), in which Beale addresses the question of the seemingly “cruel” treatment of the wicked, such as in Joshua and the imprecatory Psalms. Here is a sample paragraph from that Summary:

Some attempts to answer the question have been offered that Beale finds to be less than completely satisfying, and he recites them briefly. Most would acknowledge that there is a “wartime ethic” that stretches the normal bounds of justice, but even the extenuating circumstances of war do not account for the intentional extensiveness of the commands God gives to the Israelites concerning the Canaanites. So also, even if these commands were not to be understood literally, details remain that such considerations simply cannot handle. And in any case, it certainly appears that the commands were intended to be taken (at least essentially) literally. This latter suggestion (that the extermination commands are not to be understood literally) would dissolve the problem considerably, and as such it is an important consideration, and so Beale treats it separately in a 10-page excursus at the end of the book.

Beale proposes his own five-fold approach to the question. In his own words, this approach is as follows. First, how does the killing of the Canaanites demonstrate God’s justice and righteousness? Second ….

As you can see, our Book Summaries take you a long way in tracing out the book’s arguments, from beginning to end.

Our members receive a Book Summary every week, and you can see how quickly and easily they keep up to date!

Note that we offer a free, one-month trial membership with no obligation. Give us a try, and see what you’re missing!

Claim your free, one-month trial membership by clicking HERE.

Thanks for checking us out!

Jim Zaspel
Business Manager, Books At a Glance


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