A RETIRED church minister has used the Bible as the inspiration for his latest book.

The Rev Jock Stein, along with wife Margaret, was joint locum minister at Cockenzie Old Parish Church before stepping down in 2014.

Originally he started writing one poem for each of the 66 books in the Bible and then, encouraged by friends, expanded his poetic project further.

He said: “They said to me it was daft just to approach it that way as it would be too complicated and folk might not understand it, so it was suggested I focus on people and their stories, which is why From Cosmos to Canaan is the first of many volumes.

“In it I examine key issues and use poetry to give a new slant on it. The poems go everywhere – some serious, some with humour.”

Jock, 77, told the Courier he “felt this call” to write Bible from verse and set about working on what was to become the new book, which has been published by Sacristy Press.

The Haddington resident added: “I did it because I love the Bible and because I found a vocation to write poetry once I reached the age of 70.

“Many poets are suspicious of the Bible and most readers of the Bible are not into poetry. But all my life I have enjoyed crossing boundaries and gently tearing up labels so I am aiming to encompass both audiences.”

Jock has no illusions about the size of the project he has taken on and admitted it could take more than 15 years to complete.

He will try to fit the writing in alongside his other activities, which include having just embarked on a higher degree at the University of Glasgow writing on the Psalms, chairing several charities including Tyne and Esk Writers, and running a small publishing company.

In the first chapter of the new book, Jock examines the message delivered in Genesis.

He said: “The Bible shows us a way to think and act, and the testimony of Jews and Christians is that this way makes great sense and blesses human life.

“We prove the truth of the Bible in experience, not in some intellectual way – but we can think about it and we can talk about it.”

From Cosmos to Canaan – the Bible in Verse is published by Sacristy Press and can be found at sacristy.co.uk