Book Review: The Bard and the Bible

I did my research before going to the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference this summer, and was delighted to see that writer, Bob Hostetler, would be serving on the teaching faculty this year. I knew his name well as co-author of a book that was indispensable to me twenty years ago when I was teaching and serving in youth ministry, Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door.

When I looked to see what was new with him these days, my heart skipped a beat at the sight of his new book release, The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional.

ANYTHING with a vintage image of William Shakespeare on the cover is going to captivate my attention in seconds. The main title might suggest it was an academic work. But, when my eyes focused on the subtitle, A Shakespeare Devotional, I knew that book would be coming home with me! Autographed. And a second copy for my daughter who is more of a Shakespeare aficionado than I am.

One’s initial thought might be that this is an innovative approach to a daily devotional.

[Tweet “In fact, knowing Shakespeare’s work as I do, I wondered why it had not been attempted before.”]

In my teaching years, when I taught Shakespeare, it was part of my original curriculum lessons to include the natural biblical connections to God’s Word. The Bard’s work is chock full of direct references and thematic allusions to the Bible and biblical principles. Rosalie J. Slater, whose work has been a fundamental influence in the development of my own love of literature and teaching methodology, often referred to William Shakespeare as “the Bard OF the Bible” in the Noah Plan Literature Study Guide from the Foundation for American Christian Education.

Well, Bob Hostetler has gone to the next amazing level of connecting the words of Shakespeare to the Word of God. He has culled a year’s worth of daily readings together by tying select verses from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets to Scripture. Using wit and humor, he deftly expands our understanding of the underlying principles in the verses. This deepens our understanding as illustrated in the context of the plot and characters of Shakespeare’s work, and the practical application we can make of that to our own life.

As I slowly read through each day’s selection, I anticipate coming to the bottom of the page. There, Bob includes two fascinating facts about the play or poem from which the reading was inspired. Often a bunny trail of literary history teases me to search out more information on these tasty little details.

[Tweet “A love of literature ignites a love of learning.”]

Here’s Bob in his best Elizabethan attire to tell you all about  it himself:

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Want to know more about how I’d use this devotional beyond the realm of personal reflection, and take it into an academic classroom setting as an enrichment tool? 


The Bard and the Bible, Bob Hostetler

[Tweet “5 Star Book Review: The Bard and the Bible–A Shakespeare Devotional by Bob Hostetler”]

Are you a lover of Shakespeare’s work? Share your favorite play or verse in the comments below.

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Sharing Book Review: The Bard and the Bible this week with:

Literacy Musing Monday

Create With Joy Book Nook

Wholehearted Wednesday

Christian Blogger Link-up

Sitting Among Friends

Booknificent Thursdays

Vintage Cottage Mama

Katherine’s Corner

Faith Filled Fridays

Pink Saturday

Spiritual Sundays 


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About Miss Kathy

"I teach families how to restore their God-given authority as the primary educator in their child’s life through the experience of reading together as a family. Learn how to use literature to create teachable moments, build strong minds, and bind loving hearts."

Kathryn Ross, writer, speaker, and dramatist, ignites a love of literature and learning to equip young and old towards developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle—reading together, learning together, loving together. Her works challenge families to deepen their literacy skills and grow into the greater things God has purposed for them. She’s taught in Christian and homeschool circles, trained in the Principle Approach® through the Foundation for American Christian Education. Miss Kathy owns Pageant Wagon Publishing, producing homeschool enrichment materials, devotional works, study guides, and theatrical dramas for church, school, and community production. She podcasts at and blogs at


  1. Well, what a unique idea – pairing literature with devotionals! Love it! I took a Shakespeare class in college, and I really struggled to earn my “B” – I had the worst time getting used to the language! So, to those people (you) who understand and love Shakespeare, I say, “Me thinks thou art wise indeed.”

    To be or not to be – like Christ – that is the question. And I answer, “YES!” I want to be like Him!!


    • Sharon–it’s a meaty devotional with so much story in it–like parables. Love the little bits of literary and historical facts tucked in there, too. But I’m geeky that way. Shakespeare is simply King James English. As a matter of fact, Shakespeare’s plays were being written and produced a block away from where the scholars were gathered writing the KJV of the Bible in the early 1600s in London. Fascinating stuff. Also–Shakespeare wrote plays to be acted out and spoken aloud–not read and studied in a classroom from a book. Kenneth Branagh is the master of putting Shakespeare on film. Look one up–or go to a live performance. You’ll see it very differently after that.

  2. I totally remember Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door, but I haven’t thought of it or this author in years. Thanks for linking this post up with Booknificent Thursday on!

    • Don’t Check Your Brains was his first book and a staple in my youth ministry twenty plus years ago. So honored to meet him and sit under some of his excellent writer workshop teachings. The Shakespeare devotional is a keeper!

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