Understanding Scripture was written with the aim of helping not only the average Bible reader understand the Bible a little better, but a pastor or Bible study leader as well. Seven sections (19 chapters) are delivered with brief lessons on: "Interpreting the Bible, Reading the Bible, The Canon of Scripture, The Reliability of Manuscripts, Archeology and the Bible, The Original Languages of the Bible, Old Testament and New."
No chapter is lengthy nor exhaustive in information. Each chapter is written by a different author. Some of the authors may be well known to you such as J. I. Packer, or John Piper, or Daniel B. Wallace.
It was difficult to choose which chapter I liked better over another. Every chapter was filled with solid information that I felt I was fully engaged and enjoyed reading. It was a consistent joy to read from a variety of different authors, each with their own talents, teaching style, themes, and the differing levels of vibrancy they had on their knowledgeable subject.
Leland Ryken wrote "Reading the Bible as Literature." I must state, he has become one of my favorite authors on the Bible. His topic is usually on the literary form and style of the Bible. He writes with cheerfulness and an infectious teaching ability that is catching. Another words, I can tell he has a love for his subject and it transfers over to the reader.
"Interpreting the Bible: An Introduction" by Daniel Doriani, was full of wise questions for the reader to ask while reading the Bible.
"Applying Scripture means accepting and fulfilling God-given duties, seeking a godly character, pursuing goals that the Lord blesses, and seeing the world his way. This produces four questions readers can ask themselves that often lead to helpful application: What should I do? Who should I be (or who should I realize that I am, in Christ)? Where should I go? How can I see?" pg. 18.
This chapter was beneficial on knowing and applying Scripture.
"Reading The Bible Theologically" by J. I. Packer. Theology is a word that often puts people off, because it is thought of as an occupation meant for only the highly educated and learned men and women in seminary.
Packer though gave an outstanding definition for us:
"To read the Bible 'theologically' means to read the Bible with a focus on God: his being, his character, his words and works, his purpose, presence, power, promises, and precepts." pg. 29.
"The goal of theological Bible reading is not just to know truth about God (though one's quest for godliness must start there) but to know God personally in a relationship that honors him-which means serving Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, the world's real though unrecognized Lord, who came to earth, died, rose and ascended for his people, and has given them the Holy Spirit. To have him fill believers' horizons and rule their lives in his father's name is the authentic form-the foundation, blueprint, scaffolding, and construction-of Christian godliness, to which theological Bible reading is a God-intended means." pg. 35.
I loved this book and strongly recommend it!
This book was given to me for free from Crossway for reading/reviewing.
I have some favourite theologians. I confess. I am not a pulpit-sniffer or a scholar fan-boy. But there are some teachers and preachers whose teaching and preaching resonates with me. And as an intentional practice I try and get my hands on anything and everything these leaders and educators write or speak. If I find a particular man's ministry is used strongly by the Holy Spirit in my edification and sanctification, then I want to avail myself of that resource. Thus, when it came to my attention that two of those pastor-teacher-type authors were joint editing a book, along with a third editor C. John Collins, I decided I must read it. Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning is a book that has two editors whose ministries have had a significant impact on my life. Wayne Grudem and Thomas R. Schreiner are two men whose works I try and access whenever I can. And in this Crossway published survey of biblical issues I have been, yet again, strengthened and stretched in my faith.
Comprehensive but Not Extensive
By definition an overview is a general review or summary of a subject. It is not a thorough and meticulous investigation or a complete elucidation. It can be comprehensive, but it shouldn't be extensive. As an introduction to important matters pertaining to Scripture, this book does an admirable job. The broad scope of its inquiry is easily demonstrated with a listing of its parts:
1. Interpreting the Bible
2. Reading the Bible
3. The Canon of Scripture
4. The Reliability of the Bible Manuscripts
5. Archaeology and the Bible
6. The Original Languages of the Bible
7. Old Testament and New
As is obvious, this book covers a lot of ground, all of which is salient to people of the Word. Chapters by numerous esteemed pastors and scholars constitute each part. In light of the topics and the purpose of this book, the chapters are brief but they are so without being scant. This book makes for a great introduction to these Biblical subjects.
A Springboard for Further Study
For those uninitiated with the many issues this book presents, Grudem and friends offer an excellent starting point for understanding the concepts and the seriousness of what is at stake. The writers are knowledgeable and passionate about their topics and they deal with the subject matter in a way that should encourage further study. With the smorgasbord of topics available, every reader should find a morsel or dainty that elicits further consumption; this book offers only the appetizers with a feast waiting those inclined to eat. But this book is not simply for the novice.
A Refreshing Review
I have looked into most of these issues at one time or another, pursuing the questions and doubts I had to my satisfaction. And though I'm no expert, I was delighted to find several chapters that piqued my interest and generated a desire to seek more information. As an English high school teacher, I found Leland Ryken's chapter titled Reading the Bible as Literature superb and will definitely be follow that trail and see what else Ryken has to offer on the subject. Other chapters of note were those by J. I. Packer, John Hannah, and Daniel B. Wallace. This booked worked well for me as a review but also provided some stimulus for further investigations.
One for the Shelf
My house is quite full; seven of us and all our stuff. Shelf space, or any other kind of space for that matter, is quite limited. My wife reminds me that I need to be selective when choosing books. Hence, I look for books that I believe will be a solid resource for the household. Books of interest are those which I foresee reading again, or at least consulting again, or books which I think my children will find helpful. Understanding Scripture is just such a book. It is a book that I'm certain I will use as a reference in the future. And it is a book I will direct my children to for initiation into some of the issues that are sure to crop up in their lives as they live them out as men and women who rely on the Bible for the Ã¢â¬Ëdaily bread'. This volume will find its way on to my bookshelf, and I recommend it for yours.
I received a copy of this book from Crossway for the purpose of review.