Thursday 14 January 2016

books on the Bible

In light of Primer Issue 01’s focus on the doctrine of Scripture, here’s an annotated list of recent books on the Bible, from the basic to the more stretching.  

Primer itself is written for pastors.  The first four of these books would be great to give to anyone interested, the first couple are especially suited to read and give away, the third and fourth great to recommend to believers. The last three would be a great help for pastors to dig deeper…

Andrew Wilson. Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said About the Word of God. 10Publishing, 2014. (78 pages)

-         A nice compact version of the argument John Wenham made years ago (see his Christ and the Bible): the best way for Christians to know how they should treat the Bible is to see how Jesus treated his Scriptures. Admirably draws out quite a full doctrine of Scripture from Jesus’ teaching: the Bible is clear, authoritative, coherent, sufficient and so on.

Barry Cooper. Can I Really Trust the Bible? The Good Book Company, 2014.

-         Similar length to Andrew’s (81 pages), but broader in scope. Starts where Andrew does with Jesus’ view of Scripture, and branches out to look at questions around the formation of the canon, the transmission of Scripture etc. Lots of fantastic little asides on questions people ask/objections they raise.

Kevin DeYoung. Taking God at His Word. Nottingham: IVP, 2014.

-         Like Andrew, Kevin works through the attributes of Scripture: it is authoritative, sufficient, clear. The differences are: this one is more in depth (138 pages) and aims to see what the whole Bible says about the Bible, rather than simply what Jesus says about the Bible. Less suitable for non-Christians, ideal for Christians who enjoy a read.

Michael Ovey and Daniel Strange. Confident: Why We Can Trust the Bible. Christian Focus Publications, 2015. 

-         A book of two halves: The first half (Dan) has some very helpful reflections and ideas on how to make an authoritative Bible plausible and appealing in a sceptical culture. The second half (Mike) carefully meditates on the Gospels and what they reveal both about God’s word and about human nature and our posture towards Scripture. That is, if Andrew shows us what Jesus says about the Bible, Mike adds in what Jesus says about us. The result is that we are rightly encouraged to be more self-suspicious and humble before God’s word.

Ward, Timothy. Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Nottingham: IVP, 2009 (186 pages).

-         Tim’s book gets round to the attributes of Scripture (ch3) but starts by thinking about the foundational role God’s word plays in salvation history (ch1) and by arguing that the Bible is best seen as God at work, it is his speech-act (ch2). The pay-off is that the attributes of Scripture become inevitable: God’s word is true, coherent, authoritative and clear because God doesn’t lie or contradict himself but is the sovereign Lord who communicates perfectly.

Frame, John M. The Doctrine of the Word of God. Phillipsburg, N.J: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2010.

-        Kevin de Young describes this as beginner level (unusual for a book that is 684 pages long!). Mike and Dan put it in the advanced category. They’re both right in a way. Frame writes beautifully clear books, but the size and some of the detail and quirks are more stretching, so it’s probably somewhere in the middle along with Tim Ward.  Comprehensive and comprehendable. Definitely one for the pastors shelf.

Coming soon:
Don Carson ed., The Enduring Authority of the Scriptures. (1256 pages)

-         Take John Frame, double it, and you have this book, coming out in April 2016.
According to the blurb: In this volume thirty-seven first-rate evangelical scholars present a thorough study of biblical authority and a full range of issues connected to it. Recognizing that Scripture and its authority are now being both challenged and defended with renewed vigor, editor D. A. Carson assigned the topics that these select scholars address in the book. After an introduction by Carson to the many facets of the current discussion, the contributors present robust essays on relevant historical, biblical, theological, philosophical, epistemological, and comparative-religions topics. To conclude, Carson answers a number of frequently asked questions about the nature of Scripture, cross-referencing these FAQs to the preceding chapters.

You can browse much of the book here. The FAQ, starting at page  1157(!), looks terrific.