IVP Introduction to the Bible: Story, Themes and Interpretation Hardcover – 20 Oct 2006
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The IVP Introduction to the Bible will prove especially valuable to novice to intermediate biblical students and scholars. Highly recommended as a solid religious studies reference for public and college library shelves.--Wisconsin Bookwatch, September 2007
This concise, compact distillation of the intended teachings of ancient writers of books of the Bible is very well done. Various knowledgeable contributors make this a valuable tool for anyone interested in understanding the Bible.--Libraries Alive, Fall 2007
Gathers an impressive group of scholars writing brief introductions and overviews for each section of the Bible as well as an overall introduction to the Bible and a section on the history between the two testaments. There is much helpful material here nicely summarized.--Preaching.com, Bible and Bible Reference Survey 2007
"Both the Bible itself and the field of biblical studies are large and complex. But they are also immensely rich and rewarding. Here is a clear introduction by evangelical scholars who know what they're talking about. It is substantial enough to deliver what it promises without being ponderous and technical. A good introduction for the interested nonspecialist. I warmly recommend it."--Dr. Barry Webb, Research Fellow in Old Testament, Moore College, Sydney, Australia
"Anyone who makes a serious effort at reading the Bible soon finds that it is not easy. This book is designed to help by providing both specific information and general perspective for today's readers. It does not assume much prior knowledge, but nor does it 'talk down.' Be prepared for some demanding reading, as acknowledged experts distill their specialist knowledge into an accessible text. And be prepared too to be led, gently but firmly, out of your 'comfort zone': the Bible is not a comfortable book, and this volume does not disguise the fact. But if you are ready to be stretched, welcome to an exciting voyage of discovery that will last a lifetime."--Dr. Dick France, former Principal, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford
"This splendid book provides a clear, structured and accessible overview of the whole Bible. Its genius is in blending qualities that might easily cancel each other out. For instance, it provides the essential tools and information to make Bible study illuminating and productive, but does so without readers realizing they are being taught a wide range of literary, historical and theological issues. Some recent Bible overviews have provided a major motif running like a motorway from Genesis to Revelation, but haven't shown the reader how to navigate the minor roads with profit. This work, by contrast, gives enough detail to explore, and sufficient direction not to get lost. Finally and perhaps most importantly, it blends an academic rigor with a godly humility--essential to hearing God's Word. Brian Rosner conveys this well in his essay on interpretation: 'The biggest obstacle to right reading is not a dull mind, nor the absence of specialized knowledge, but a hard heart. As God's word to the world the message of the NT is accessible to all who come to it in faith.' I warmly commend this timely book."--Richard Cunningham, Director, Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship
"If I had only one book to help me understand the Bible, this is the one I would go for. Skillfully edited by Dr. Philip Johnston, a group of orthodox scholars not only give a comprehensive survey of all the books in the Bible, but also provide four chapters introducing both the Old and New Testaments (Story, Background, Theology, Interpretation) along with an important chapter 'Between the Testaments.' The style is clear and accessible, requires no specialist knowledge, and combines sound scholarship with an evident love for the Bible. Students and church members alike will find it invaluable. I commend it wholeheartedly."--Dr. Michael Green, former Principal of St. John's College, Nottingham, Professor of Evangelism, Regent College, Vancouver, and Archbishops' Advisor on Evangelism --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
A concise introduction to the Bible, as a whole and in its
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Their work is equal to or greater than the notes found in the best study Bibles. There you have space constraints, which require smaller text and abbreviated subject matter. One thing you do not get is detail on individual verses, which is where study Bibles have an advantage in that they do provide some commentary. However, the best source for exposition of individual verses remains one-volume or multi-volume commentaries.
This book provides clear and concise presentations that contain a wealth of distilled scholarship for anyone wanting to grasp themes and subject matter. The insights are highly relevant. On the inspiration of Scripture, Mark Strauss writes, "Though the Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture may be perfect and precise, the vehicle of transmission (human language) is subject to ambiguity and imprecision. Our comprehension of divine revelation is therefore always partial and incomplete (1 Cor. 13:12)" (3).
The views are current and conservative, avoiding controversy, though readers may disagree with some conclusions. Traditionally, the author of Revelation has been identified as John the son of Zebedee, one of the twelve apostles. Carl Mosser writes, "John the son of Zebedee became an apostle, but little in Revelation supports identifying its author with one of the apostles. He never calls himself an apostle, and gives no indication that he is among the twelve apostles written on the New Jerusalem's foundations (21:14), or is among the twenty-four enthroned elders, probably the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles (4:4, 10; 5:8; 11:16; 19:4). So it seems unlikely that the author was John the son of Zebedee but we cannot determine his identity more than that" (265-266).
Returning to the beginning of the book, Mark Strauss' definition of terms is valuable. He explains the difference between plenary and verbal inspiration, "Plenary means `full' and refers to the fact that all Scripture is equally inspired. Verbal means that the words themselves, not just the ideas, are inspired by God. Here we must be cautious, however, since words are arbitrary signs which indicate conceptual content. It is the meaning of these words ¯ the message which they convey -- which is ultimately inspired by God. In this way a translation of Scripture which accurately represents the meaning of that text remains God's Word" (3). Some may disagree with that last thought, but this careful, reasoned analysis of every aspect of Scripture is found throughout, which makes this a great addition to any personal or institutional library. Ministers and teachers will find it helpful in sermon or lesson preparation.
Every section is interesting, but because it is less familiar to me, I especially enjoyed reading "Between the Testaments." Carl Mosser takes readers through a fascinating account of the 400 year period between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament.
Two of the best features come at the end of each section. There is a short synopsis that discusses each book's relevance for Christians. This is especially helpful in the Old Testament, where believers sometimes wonder what applies. This highlights the importance of context, which this book consistently provides. In "Introducing the Old Testament," we find this apt summary statement, "The basic rule of thumb for Christian interpreters of the OT is that the moral law, governing ethical behavior, continues in effect for the Christian, not as a means of salvation, but as a code -- based in God's character -- by which to live. By contrast, while we can learn from the civil and ceremonial laws, we are not directed by them in the same way" (45).
The other helpful feature is a further reading section, which shows where to turn for more detail. The list provides the best scholarship on the subject with short comments from the author.
The layout is pleasant to the eyes and the text easy to read.
Do you need help in understanding and applying the Bible? Maybe you just want a reliable reference to keep you on track. Look no further. If you could only have one book to go with the Bible, this is an excellent choice.
My only contention with a other introductory texts is that I don't always care about the different theories of who authored what, when. There's a time and place for that, but not always. Sometimes I need an introductory text that focuses on the books of the Bible and what they have to do with one another.
InterVarsity Press has recently published their IVP Introduction to the Bible in paperback. This is an excellent introductory text for anyone from inquisitive seekers to seminarians looking for a refresher course. Each chapter is precise without being technical. Bryan Chapel instructs students in his preaching courses at Covenant Theological Seminary that every preacher must forget ninety percent of what he knows when he preaches. Sometimes the best teaching "forgets" ninety percent of what could be said. I appreciate the appropriate simplicity of these chapters. Just because I understand Biblical Hebrew doesn't mean I always need to read explorations in the technical uses of Hebrew particles in the Pentateuch. Simplicity can be profound.
With excellent chapters written by T. Desmond Alexander and Mark Strauss - among many others - the IVP Introduction to the Bible will be a reference text I turn to often.
Note: In accordance with the regulations provided by the Federal Trade Commission I would like to state that I have received this title free as compensation for my review. I was not required to provide a positive review.
This is not a commentary, and it does not try to be. I actually like this about the book. It sticks to its task of being an introduction, one that anyone could pick up and use. It does give suggested resources for each section which point to places where people can go to dig deeper. One of the (actually THE) biggest success of this book is that it encourages one to go pick up their Bible and read.