Sixty-six books claiming divine inspiration, written over a span of 1500 years…Why do these books constitute the Bible and not others? How were they determined to be the Word of God? Why do some Bibles have the Apocryphal books and some don’t? Should we read the Apocrypha? How are errors or differences between ancient manuscripts handled? Can they be trusted? How much can we trust our English translations? You don’t need to go to seminary to learn this. Norman Geisler and William Nix provide a comprehensive guide in their book From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible.
While both Dr. Geisler and Dr. Nix are seminary professors with extensive academic backgrounds, they do not write as if they are stuck in an ivory tower. This book answers the above questions and more in an organized, readable format, divided into four parts, or links, that show how the chain of communication from God to us is strong: inspiration, canonization, transmission, and translation.
The first half of this book explains what every Christian should know about why we can have confidence in the Bible as the Word of God. In the first two sections, the authors explain what it means that the Bible is “inspired” and provide the evidences for inspiration. The second part explains how the Bible was developed and put together. The authors examine how Jesus viewed the Old Testament, which books he considered Scripture, and how Jesus used those words to show who he is. The logical and practical presentation of evidence that the Bible is the Word of God is persuasive. But they don’t leave us there; they emphasize why it is important to know this for our faith.
You can go as deep as you want with this book, as each part and chapter progresses from a simple overview to an in-depth treatment. In Part 3: Transmission, we learn how these words were transmitted over two thousand years and whether or not our 20th-century English Bible is an accurate reproduction of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. First they introduce why written languages are important, how manuscripts were prepared and preserved, and then if you are interested still, you can dive into details of the original manuscripts and textual criticism. If some readers find this too detailed, they can skip ahead to the beginning of the next chapter understand the general concepts without getting bogged down in the details, such as manuscript types.
In Part 4: Translation, the authors cover the history of translation from the Aramaic, Syriac, Greek and Latin languages. Most readers may be especially interested in the last couple chapters about English translations, particularly from the 16th-century translations such as Tyndale’s, and the King James Bible through current versions, such as The Message. With the proliferation of Bible translations we have today, the authors warn that we must use discernment with consideration of the background of the translators and their source documents used for translation. Some may present dangerous aberrant teaching, heresies, and doctrinal distortions not just in the study notes but into the translation itself.
Ultimately, this book is excellent for learning how the words of both the Old and New Testaments were preserved over the centuries, why we can have confidence that these words are the Word of God, and how we know they are inerrant. It provides a guide for us to continue in selecting English translations that are faithful to the true Word of God. This book is a valuable addition to my personal library.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Press in exchange for my honest review.