Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book Review: How We Got the Bible

How We Got the Bible - Handbook   -     By: Timothy Paul Jones
Throughout my childhood, I was presented with a number of opportunities to examine the faith of my parents and the church that we attended. However, most of these opportunities were fairly black and white with challenges coming from folks who were generally antagonistic to Christianity. It wasn't until I attended a Christian university that my New Testament professor introduced me to the world of textual criticism and Bart Ehrman. In spite of his profession of faith and role as a pastor at a local church, that man seemed to do everything he could to undermine the Bible. I was unprepared to refute the claims I encountered, but I didn't thoughtlessly embrace the man's teaching or that of the books he was promoting. God faithfully brought me through that rocky season and used it to strengthen my faith. Over the years, I've continued to study the subject a bit, and I've sought to equip my kids to face "the real world" with a strong, biblical foundation. I want them to examine their beliefs and the beliefs of others and to think critically about them all. When it comes to considering the claims made about Scripture, Timothy Paul Jones has given us an excellent primer in How We Got the Bible.
According to Dr. Jones, the "purpose of this book is to deepen your trust in the Bible by helping you understand how God's written revelation made the journey from the mind of God to the sixty-six texts in your Bible today". In seven concise chapters, Jones explains what the Bible is, how the Old and New Testaments were composed and answers many questions, including:
  • What's so special about the Bible?
  • Is it different from other books?
  • Is it reliable?
  • What does it mean that it is inspired and inerrant?
  • Do Christians need the Old Testament?
  • How was the Bible collected and arranged?
  • Which books belong in the Bible?
  • Why do some Christian religious groups include additional books (like the Apocrypha) in their Bibles?
  • Why don't we continue adding books to the Bible today?
  • How did early Christians recognize which texts truly were God's Word and choose to receive them? 
  • Did early Christians care whether the events described in the New Testament really happened or whether the books were written by the authors who claimed to write them? 
  • How can the Bible be without error if the copyists made mistakes?
  • How do archaeological discoveries such as the 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls serve to confirm the accuracy of the Bible and result in increasingly accurate translations?
Throughout How We Got the Bible, Jones is faithful to the Bible. He utilizes relevant anecdotes and humor to keep his presentation engaging and relates many historical accounts to show the continuing importance of this subject today. He includes numerous visual aids such as colorful paintings, photographs, and charts that are sure to benefit the reader. Jones reminds us of the privilege of having God's Word in our language and concludes his work with a challenge explaining the work that remains for the 1,800 people groups who do not yet have a Bible translation in their language. I recommend this work for any group or individual who desires a gentle introduction to the means through which God has been faithful to bring His Word to us.

*Many thanks to Rose Publishing for a complimentary ebook copy of How We Got the Bible in exchange for my honest opinion!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: The Book of God

     Is the Bible from man or from God? Is there any evidence that it is different from other books? With the many years that have passed and the number of translations that have been produced, how can we be sure that the Bible we have is the same as the authoritative, infallible original? Are we sure that we have all of the books that should be included or are some missing, only yet to be discovered? There are many questions that can be asked of the Holy Scriptures.

The back cover of The Book of God: How We Got the Bible is reminiscent of the formatting of the text at the beginning of a Star Wars movie, an interesting way to entice people to read about the story of The Book of God. It certainly captured my attention. Upon arrival, I left this book on our coffee table to see how long it would take for someone to peruse it. Given the graphic novel format, it wasn't surprising to find that it didn't take much time for The Book of God to garner some attention for itself from my children, which was more than I could say about the other, slightly outdated "How We Got the Bible" book that we were scheduled to read. Clearly, this presentation won my kids over and makes this book unique among other books containing similar information.

     The Book of God: How We Got the Bible is comprised of four parts: "The Production of the Bible (How the Bible Was Written)", "The Process of the Bible (How the Bible Was Selected)", "The Preservation of the Bible (How the Bible Spread)", and "The Proof of the Bible (How the Bible Has Survived and Is Trustworthy)". Ben Avery did a good job of honestly answering many questions surrounding the Bible, concisely summarizing this information and offering a gentle introduction to the subject. I commend it to those seeking to be better educated concerning the substantial evidence that confirms God's hand in preserving His Word for our generation.

*Many thanks to Kingstone Comics for providing me with a complimentary copy of The Book of God: How We Got the Bible in exchange for my honest opinion!