Book Review: John Bunyan by Kevin Belmonte

February 8, 2011

One of my favorite hobbies is reading biographies. Recently I had the opportunity to read and review Kevin Belmont’s excellent biography of John Bunyan. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wholeheartedly recommend it. Here is my review:

Beside the King James Version of the Bible, few works of literature have had the impact of Pilgrim’s Progress. It has influenced world leaders, artists, authors, poets, and playrights. And today it continues its legacy, sharing the powerful allegory of a sinner’s spiritual journey toward Heaven.

But who is the man behind this magnificent classic? Who is John Bunyan? Kevin Belmonte shares a fresh history of Bunyan as part of Thomas Nelson’s wonderful series, Christian Encounters. Kudos to Thomas Nelson for producing the biographies of impactful Christians to a new generation and kudos to Belmonte for producing a readable, rich treatment of John Bunyan.

Born in an average, if not poor family, raised with minimal education, and living in a tumultuous time in England’s history, Bunyan’s life was the crucible out of which came the gold of Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan’s life is a tale of woe. He lost his first wife to early death. He was persecuted for preaching the Gospel. He languished 12 long years in prison, separated from his second wife, Elisabeth and his children.

And yet, Bunyan’s story is one of inspiration and hope. Refusing to give up preaching the Word of God, unyielding in his devotion to writing the story God placed on his heart, and unrelenting in his love for his family, John Bunyan is a hero to Christianity.

Belmonte delivers a rich portrait of Bunyan, skillfully walking the reader through the small towns and villages that formed Bunyans life, weaving in the history and culture, and stepping back to allow this magnificent narrative to unfold.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short, but weighty biography of John Bunyan. I came away inspired by his courage. I hope, under similar circumstances, I would be willing to preach God’s Word faithfully, even if it cost me my freedom. I would encourage every Christian to pick up a copy of Kevin Belmonte’s fine biography of John Bunyan.