Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning Paperback – 29 Feb 2012
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About the Author
Wayne Grudem (PhD, University of Cambridge; DD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary, having previously taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible, the general editor of the ESV Study Bible, and has published over 20 books.
C. John Collins (PhD, University of Liverpool) is professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He has been a research engineer, church-planter, and teacher. He was the Old Testament Chairman for the English Standard Version Bible and is author of The God of Miracles, Science and Faith: Friends or Foes?, and Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary. He and his wife have two grown children.
Thomas R. Schreiner (MDiv and ThM, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
J. I. Packer (DPhil, Oxford University) serves as the Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College. He is the author of numerous books, including the classic best-seller Knowing God. Packer served as general editor for the English Standard Version Bible and as theological editor for the ESV Study Bible.
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don't Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, A Peculiar Glory, and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
R. Kent Hughes (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and visiting professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hughes is also a founder of the Charles Simeon Trust, which conducts expository preaching conferences throughout North America and worldwide. He serves as the series editor for the Preaching the Word commentary series and is the author or coauthor of many books. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, and have four children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.
Leland Ryken (PhD, University of Oregon) served as professor of English at Wheaton College for nearly 50 years. He has authored or edited over fifty books, including The Word of God in English and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible. He is a frequent speaker at the Evangelical Theological Society's annual meetings and served as literary stylist for the English Standard Version Bible.
Vern S. Poythress (PhD, Harvard University; ThD, University of Stellenbosch) is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has taught for nearly four decades. In addition to earning six academic degrees, he is the author of numerous books and articles on biblical interpretation, language, and science.
JOHN D. CURRID is the Carl McMurray Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the author of several books and Old Testament commentaries. A PhD graduate in Syro-Palestinian archaeology (University of Chicago), he has extensive archaeological field experience from projects throughout Israel and Tunisia.
Peter J. Gentry (PhD, University of Toronto) is professor of Old Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Hexapla Institute.
Daniel B. Wallace (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and the founder of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, an institute purposed to preserve Scripture by taking digital photographs of all known Greek New Testament manuscripts. Dr. Wallace influences students across the country through his textbook on Greek grammar, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, as it is used in more than two-thirds of the nation's schools for the study of Greek. His postdoctoral work includes work on Greek grammar at Tyndale House in Cambridge and textual criticism studies at the Institut fUr Neutestamentliche Textforschung in MUnster. When he is not involved in scholarly pursuits, Dr. Wallace and wife, Pati, enjoy spending time with their boys and beagles.
Dan Doriani (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the vice president of strategic academic projects and professor of theology at Covenant Seminary. He previously served as the senior pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Clayton, Missouri, and has been involved in several planning and study committees at the presbytery level in both the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). Dan lives with his wife, Debbie, in Chesterfield, Missouri, and has three grown daughters.
John D. Hannah (PhD, University of Texas at Dallas) is research professor of theological studies and distinguished professor of historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is a frequent church and conference speaker both at home and abroad. He remains active in church ministries and serves on the boards of several organizations.
David Powlison (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a teacher, a counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. He is also the senior editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling and the author of Seeing with New Eyes, Good and Angry, and Speaking Truth in Love.
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Part 1 addresses the issue of Bible interpretation. A sketch of the process of Bible interpretation is provided, showing due sensitivity to the issue of genre, followed by a good summary of the history of interpretation. As is true in the rest of this little volume, the two chapters are just the right length to tease out the major issues without burying the introductory reader in a flood of detail.
Part 2 explores five different reading strategies with which one can approach the text. This is clearly the most devotional part of the book, and the editors have chosen well for the contributors, with names like Packer, Piper, and Powlison. In reading this section, students might be tempted to blow through it and get to chapters with more technical details such as canon, or the use of the Old Testament by the New. But the reader should not forget that the whole point of studying Scripture is to, well, read it, and to read it with ever-increasing understanding. This section might well be where the payoff for the book is located.
Part 3 investigates the issues and problems surrounding the concept of the canon of Scripture. The Old and New Testaments are treated separately, as the canon issues between the two are quite distinct. An excellent chapter on the Apocrypha is also provided.
Part 4 delves into the reliability of the manuscripts and questions of textual criticism. The level of detail is just right for an introductory work, and the two testaments are again dealt with in two separate chapters. Part 5 continues that pattern by devoting a chapter each to archaeology and the Old and New Testaments. Plenty of examples are given, although it would have been nice for a few pictures to have been included in these chapters.
Part 6 was devoted to the biblical languages. This section was either the weakest, or strongest part of the book, depending on the level of detail you are looking for. Peter Williams got into an astonishing amount of detail regarding Hebrew, for a layman's introductory text. I enjoyed this chapter immensely, I suspect my students got somewhat lost in it. It will certainly give the average man on the street an great appreciation for those who know Hebrew well enough to translate it. David Black took a very different approach with Greek, and dealt with characteristics of Koine, the range of Greek styles in the New Testament, and some basic linguistics. The section concluded with a great chapter on the Septuagint. Peter Gentry handled this section and included in it several pages on translation strategy (functional versus formal equivalence).
This is probably my major criticism of the book. Gentry's paragraphs on translation strategy should have been expanded into a complete chapter on the history of the English text and the translation rationales behind the myriad modern versions. He did a great job handling the issues, and I wish he'd been asked to contribute a whole chapter on it.
The final part, on Old Testament and New, included a chapter on the history of salvation by Vern Poythress, and a chapter on the New Testament's use of the Old, by C. John Collins.
This is a terrific lay-level textbook for Bible Introduction. It's too short (203 pages) and too basic for graduate use, and possibly even for undergraduate use. But in the church, which is where I am using it, it is perfect in terms of its writing level and content complexity. I highly recommend this book for personal or church classroom use.
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