on November 8, 2012
From God to us: How we got our Bible.
by Dr. Geisler and Dr. Nix
We first heard about Dr. Geisler and Dr. Nix's weighty 412 page book on Mrs. Parshalls radio show, In the Market. Moody Press has just republished this book, revised and expanded from the first edition in 1978. This book should be on every Christians shelf. This book contains 21 chapters that cover the four very strong links in the chain from God to us. These links of Inspiration, Canonization, Transmission, and Translation bring the Bible to us from God. God wrote the Bible by Inspiration.
From God to us, page 66 "The first characteristic of Inspiration is that it is Inspired writing; namely it is verbal. The very Words of the Prophets were God given, not by dictation but by Spirit-directed employment of the prophet's own vocabulary and style. Inspiration also claims to be plenary (full). No part of Scripture is without Divine Inspiration. Paul wrote 'All Scripture is Inspired by God.' (2 Tim. 3 verse 16, NASB). In addition, Inspiration implies inerrancy in the original documents, called autographs... Finally Inspiration results in the Divine authority of Scripture. The teaching of Scripture is binding on believers for Faith and Practice."
This is what elevates the Bible to a whole new not so easily dismissed plane, making it so rich for those who feed their soul on its marrow and fatness and yet so threatening to those who defy it. The Bible actually claims to be the Words of God, collected, preserved, and here for us today. The Doctrine of Inspiration, and the quote above give us the frame of the book. The frame of studying How we got our Bible. First- All Scripture is God Breathed. How did we determine what books were Scripture? Who got to decide? Or- was it all decided by God and we recognized it? How did we? This is Canonization, studied in chapters 6 through eleven. Then we have the question- the autographs were inspired, but they are all gone. Do we have the Bible we were given? Has it changed? How? Can we trust it? This is Transmission, studied in chapters eleven to Then we have the question that according to evangelist Bill Jack is often cited by college students as a reason why they cannot believe the Bible is true: Too Many Translations.
How did the Bible come to us in English faithfully copied and translated throughout hundreds of years, with no mistakes. What about all the Revisions and Corrections that must have been made? Are Revisions in a Translation the same as changes to the text? How do I choose a Bible that is a close to the original text as possible? When was the ESV begun? Is the KJV the definitive Bible?
This book is a worthy read- a very worthy read. If we study this book and master its contents we will be able to defend the Scriptures' authority and we will have comprehensive answers to give the person who says that the Biblical books were "chosen" and "decided" at a big council in the 300s AD. Or that the prophetic books were written long after the prophecies. Or that Genesis was written during the Babylonian Exile. Or that the whole Bible was written by a sixth century monk, as one anti-theist said. Or- the idea that somebody changed every manuscript all over the known world to reflect their personal heresy. Or any number of feeble attacks that this book will help you resist. Understanding the Bible also arms you to war with cult teaching- all of which rewrite the Scripture to get what they want. Why should we believe that we have the Bible we were given? How do we know that the "cult" version is not what the original really said? Aren't we getting further from the original each time we translate our Bible? Did you know that every translation can be more accurate than the one before because of the old manuscripts we can now work with? Did you know that every one of Paul's letters claims its own inspiration? Even Philemon? Philemon claims its own inspiration verses eight and nine when Paul makes it clear that he has the authority as an apostle to command Philemon to obey, but would rather appeal to him as a brother in the Lord.
There are many exciting facts woven in- did you know that many languages were written for the first time when Christian Evangelists brought the Gospel to an unsaved country and wrote the spoken words into a written language so the Bible could be read by the people?
Source: mpnewsroom.com via Kirk on Pinterest
This book is a thorough study of the way we got our Bible from two esteemed Professors, and leaves you knowing that you have the tools in the book to learn a lot about this topic. Buy this book- take a highlighter or three, and spend a month reading From God to us. Go to In the Market with Janet Parshall and listen to her review with Dr. Geisler as you wait for your copy to come. I received this book for free from Moody Press- and it is a blessing. And the cover- it is PERFECT. A pen poised over the parchment, ready to write God's word. Beautiful.
on December 4, 2013
From God To Us is a fascinating account of the history of the Bible. This enormously comprehensive book (some 432 pages) covers a vast array of topics, such as:
The structure of the Bible and order of the books, including the traditional Hebrew arrangement of Old Testament books
An in-depth look into the definition & nature of “inspiration”, as well as Old Testament and New Testament claims of inspiration
Evidences for inspiration
The history of the canonization of the Bible
The discovery of the dead sea scrolls in the caves of Qumran, and their effect on our knowledge of the reliability of Old Testament texts
Many disputed books of the Old Testament and New Testament, including the Apocrypha
The many languages, writing materials, and preservation methods of the Bible
Charts, including my favorite- which compares the reliability of New Testament documents to other ancient texts
Several pages of black and white photos of ancient tablets (several of which mention Israel), the caves of Qumran and the scrolls which were found inside, and many other scripts and texts, including some of the oldest complete Bibles.
Many other non-biblical texts which agree with and prove the historical accuracy of the Bible
This book also covers textual criticism, variants within the text, and different translations of the bible including the septuagint and other greek translations, as well as latin, early english, and modern english translations.
For the casual reader, From God To Us may be a little dry, but it is absolutely indispensable as a reference source. This book is loaded with relevant, compelling information which will help to solidify your surety in the reliability and inspiration of God’s word, and would make a valuable addition to any serious scholar’s library!
I received a free copy of this book through Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
on August 5, 2014
This lengthy book is subtitled "how we got our Bible" and is the heaviest theology I've read in a long time. I appreciated the clear organization into four sections: Inspiration, Canonization, Transmission, and Translation. Each of these sections are further divided into chapters delving into great detail about how the Old and New Testaments came to exist originally and as we know them today. As noted on the back cover:
"The chain of communication from God to us to is strong. It has several solid links: inspiration, collection, transmission, and translations. Together, these four links provide the contemporary Christian with the moral certitude that the Spirit-inspired original text of Scripture has been providentially preserved by God, so that for all practical purposes the Bible in our hands is the infallible and inerrant word of God."
The intended audience is Bible students, pastors, and professors (also noted on the back cover) which explains why so much of the material seemed overwhelming to me. I tend to read the Bible in a devotional way and had never given much thought to all of the issues raised here. I learned a great deal of interesting information that I could never hope to regurgitate, but may be filed away in a corner of my mind for some future conversation. I know it is important to understand how we can trust the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible, which is why I wanted to read this book. It seemed almost like a textbook to me, with soooooo much detail on every jot and tittle. I found myself skimming and skipping over pages that bogged me down too much. The writing style itself was easy to understand, and the authors succeeded in providing a comprehensive guide for in-depth study of the historical origins of God's Word. I especially enjoyed the middle pictorial section of ancient forms of Scripture through the ages. I would recommend this to any serious student of the Bible, but not for the average person who wants a greater understanding of this topic in a more simplified format.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through the Moody Press blogger review program in exchange for an honest appraisal.
on March 22, 2013
I am not sure who Norman and the other guy are but I can tell they have done some sound research and critical thinking to write this book and it has helped me understand the historical context surrounding our Bible's history from old to new and from Old language to New language especially the English Translations. I enjoyed and it is not one of those books you just read once and put away it is reference for a life time and very scholarly!! My Thanks to those involved in writing this book.
on September 21, 2012
This small book is a well written history of the way God, down through the ages, has preserved His Word and raised up men to translate the original languages into English resulting in the Bibles we read and study. Living as we do in a country where we have the freedom to read God's Word anywhere and anytime this little volume will encourage us to be even more thankful for our blessings.
on May 30, 2015
Norman Geisler is one of a rare few Christian scholars that can impart the wisdom of his years of dedicated study and research to common folk like myself. I have many of his books and this one is a highly valuable resource to me in my personal study and preparation for service to my church. If you see his name on any Christian book, you can count on getting the benefit of a dedicated Christian minister and teacher.
Ever wonder how we got our Bibles? How did we end up with only 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 in the New? Are we being shaped by the modern stories about the Bible as mere myth? Are we more influenced by how the Da Vinci code book portrays the Bible as a conspiracy? Or are we aware of how the Bible we have today had gone through many years of inspiration by God, faithfulness of God's people, recognition and consistency of tradition and practice, and plain simple divine guidance? Imagine over 2000 years with multiple authors across many centuries, and yet, the Bible books point to that one God. The best human efforts cannot replicate such divine flow of beauty, consistency, and truth telling. This primer on how we get the Bible has been called a "classic" because of the depth of coverage, the clarity of thought, the conviction of the inspiration of the Spirit, and the excitement of plain story telling of a old old story.
Patiently and with understanding of the curious mind, Geisler and Nix, both professors who had taught at various evangelical seminaries offer us a new expanded edition of the 1972 classic. There are four parts to this book. Part One covers the Inspiration of the Bible, what is inspiration; how the Bible is structure; comparing orthodox views with others; theories of revelation and inspiration; objective evidence of inspiration; and others. Part Two describes the canonicity process and criteria, covering both the Old and the New Testaments in detail. Simply put, there are three steps in canonization: Inspiration, Recognition, and Preservation. The authors answer questions about:
- What is canonicity and how it came into being?
- What are the differences between canonizing and categorizing?
- What are the differences between the development of the Old and the New Testaments?
- What about the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha?
- Which books are cited by the Early Church fathers?
- What about other gospels and letters? Why are they not as inspired?
Part Three tells us about how the Bible was transmitted. Revealed by God through the people of Israel, the prophets, the Hebrews, the Jews, the various language groups like Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and others, we learn the importance of precision, permanence, objectivity, and dissemination. Not all languages are the same, and the Bible was given to us in its original languages by using the uniqueness of each language. Thus, in our modern translations, an understanding of the original languages and contexts will help us understand more of what the Bible is saying. That is not all, the authors show us the writing instruments, parchments, stones, plates, rocks, and how the Bible was considered so sacred that they demand the best quality of materials and skills at that time. We also learn of the many different manuscripts, the development of textual criticism to test the authenticity of the original texts, a brief history of archaelogical discoveries, and so on.
Part Four is about translations. As the Bible gets handed down from generations to generations, we note how the sacred texts were passed on through faithful translations in their various versions of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and many others. From the ancient times, the authors gradually move toward the modern English translations we have today. Since 1972, there have been a number of newer English translations, most of them associated with publishing houses.
- New American Study Bible Update (Lockman, 1995)
- Today's New International Version (Zondervan/Biblica, 2002, 2005, 2011)
- Holman-Christian Standard Bible (B&H, 1999-2004)
- English Standard Version (Crossway, 2001, 2003)
- New Living Translation (Tyndale, 1996, 2004)
- New Century Version (Thomas-Nelson, 1987)
- God's Word (Baker, 1988-1990)
- NET Bible (Bible.org, 1999, 2007)
- The Message (NavPress, 2003)
- Lexham English Bible (SBL, 2010)
commend Geisler and Nix for putting together a potpourri of materials and frameworks for the appreciation of how we get the Bible. Written very clearly, it is a primer on understanding the origins of the Bible and why we get so many different versions today. What amazes me is how the authors are able to distill complex theories and concepts into everyday terms and expressions. With supporting diagrams, pictures, and illustrations, the book is a pleasant resource to study and to learn about the Bible's origins, transmission, translations, and many others. The authors are aware of the different modernistic attacks on the Bible and have furnished some arguments against the Da Vinci code by Dan Brown as well as the ancient heresies that threaten the people of God. They cover the other gospels and patiently explain why they do not meet the criterion for canonicity. Perhaps, I can offer three concluding thoughts about the book.
First, this book is a useful and clear primer about the origin of the Bible. One of the reasons why Christians become vulnerable to blatant and baseless attacks on the Bible is because they are not familiar with the history of the Bible. As a result, Christians do not know how to respond to skeptics and unfair criticisms.
Second, I find the coverage of the various viewpoints largely fair. They spend time explaining the different views of revelation, counter arguments of the different interpretations, addressing the complexity of the mass of manuscripts, dealing with the doubts and offering up explanations along the way. By listing some of the other works like the Pseudepigrapha, the history of translations, and the many new variants, readers are introduced to the variety without having to be forced to choose any one version over the other. This is good teaching on the part of the authors. Nevertheless, I can sense the author being non-apologetic about certain convictions. Such as the categorizing of the NIV2011 within the same ranks of "Today's New International Version" instead of the well received original NIV camp. Apparently, they continue to be unconvinced about the intent of the NIV 2011 committee to get the NIV2011 more accepted just like the NIV1984.
Finally, use this book as a textbook for teaching biblical studies. I think every Christian needs to learn about the history of the Bible, and why the Bible is dependable, reliable, and is inspired by God. Sometimes, many believers do not even understand what inspiration means? With the Bible as one of the central tenets of many churches' statement of faith, it is critical and believers in general learn about the meaning of believing the Bible as the inspired Word of God.
Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
on January 20, 2015
"From God to Us - How We Got Our Bible" is a tough book to review. I tried reading it cover to cover and failed because of the excruciating detail. Yet, I am going to hang on to the book and place it on my reference shelf as it covers the Bible from its inception until today.
on October 14, 2014
In From God to Us, Norman Geisler and William Nix talk about the inspiration, canonization, transmission, and translation of the Bible.
On the Bible’s inspiration, Geisler and Nix reject the idea that God mechanically dictated the words of the Bible to human beings, for that model of inspiration is inconsistent with the different writing styles within the Bible; they still hold that the Bible contains the words that God wanted it to have, however, and they seem to believe that God arranged this by forming the personalities of the human authors. Moreover, while Geisler and Nix acknowledge that the Bible uses figures of speech that were not always intended to be taken literally, they believe that the Bible is historically and scientifically accurate.
On canonization, Geisler and Nix defend the Protestant canon, which excludes the Deuterocanonical writings from the Hebrew Bible. Regarding the Bible’s transmission, they maintain that many of the manuscripts and versions of the Bible are similar, and that accurate readings (in terms of closeness to the original texts) can be discerned through methods of text criticism. On translation, they do not privilege the King James Version, for they argue that the Byzantine tradition on which the KJV is based is not the best, for there are earlier textual traditions.
Overall, From God to Us is an encyclopedia of theology, history, manuscripts, versions, and translations. One will not find a whole lot about modern biblical scholarship in it, for modern biblical scholarship often rejects traditional ideas of biblical authorship and emphasizes redaction, whereas Geisler and Nix go in the opposite direction. Still, From God to Us is useful and informative in other areas.
I cannot say that I agreed with Geisler and Nix on everything. For one, while they reject a mechanical method of God dictating words to human authors and them writing those words down, the Bible often seems to present such a model. Granted, the model has problems—-different writing styles within the Bible, and, I would argue (though Geisler and Nix might not), diverse ideologies. Geisler and Nix could have done a better job in explaining how God’s words got from God to us, and how that is consistent with the Bible’s presentation of the way that it happened. Second, while Geisler and Nix are correct to highlight that the biblical writings have a high view of inspiration—-sometimes holding that the very words of a biblical writing are inspired—-they should have explained why biblical writers felt free to quote from different versions of the Bible (i.e., the LXX, the MT), some of them contradictory with each other. Third, Geisler and Nix dismissed New Testament allusions to or quotations of religious books that they do not consider canonical, such as the Deuterocanonical writings or I Enoch. They said that this was like Paul quoting the pagan poets on Mars Hill: that Paul was quoting them but did not regard them as Scriptural. I did not find that argument particularly convincing, however, especially since Jude seems to treat I Enoch as an authoritative prophetic voice about the Lord’s coming.
In addition, in their discussion of the external criteria of text criticism on pages 248-249, I wish that Geisler and Nix explained why those criteria are valid, rather than just telling us what the criteria are.
If I have a favorite part of the book, it is something that Geisler and Nix say on pages 83-84. After discussing possible evidences of the Bible’s inspiration and honestly admitting (to my surprise) that these evidences are not conclusive, they say: “Do these arguments prove that the Bible is inspired? No, these are not proofs with rationally inescapable conclusions. Even an amateur philosopher can devise ways to avoid the logic of the arguments…Rather, they are evidences, testimonies, or witnesses. As witnesses, they must be cross-examined and evaluated as a whole. Then, in the jury room of one’s own soul a decision must be made—-a decision that is not based on rationally inescapable proofs but on evidence that is ‘beyond reasonable doubt.'” I had to appreciate the display of humility in that passage.
I would like to thank Moody Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
on July 21, 2014
Beginning with the definition and explanation of inspiration, this book takes us through a readable, comprehensive explanation of how we got the Bibles that we hold in our hands today. At first, what it means that the Bible is inspired is explained. Not only what inspiration is, but also what it isn't (dictation for example). The authors then take us through how the canon of the Bible (the Bible that we currently use) was developed, beginning with the Old Testament. The Old Testament came about because of how the Jews determined whether or not a book was considered canonical, that is, inspired of God and authoritative. The current 39 books of the Old Testament that we currently have were all determined as canonical before the time of Christ. The books of the New Testament, however, took longer but were determined by the 4th century. It was interesting to read of some of the controversies over what books should be included and how the final 27 became part of our current Bibles. The Apocrypha was also discussed.
Next the actual transmission of the Bible was covered, regarding the development of language and writing and what type of materials would have been available during the different time periods that the Bible was written. All the different manuscripts were discussed, and what is currently available to us today, including the fact that none of the original manuscripts of the Bible have survived. The Old Testament has fewer copies of manuscripts but they are more reliable, while the New Testament manuscripts are many and have more variants. The whole field of textual criticism was discussed, part of which is a little over my head. :-) While I don't completely understand textual criticism, it was a needful part of the book in describing how we have our current Bibles.
Getting the Bible from its original languages translated into other languages was the final section of the book. Eventually the topic of the Bible being translated into English is discussed. At least one of the early translators of the Bible into English was actually killed for his efforts. How much we take having our Bible for granted in this modern world! The plethora of current modern translations was also discussed and why they came about.
Overall, this was a very thorough look at how the Bible came to be. It is amazing to see how God has preserved His Word down through the centuries so that we can have the Bible today to help us know Him and to grow in our Christian walk. While parts of the book got bogged down a bit in technical details, it was quite readable and provided a wealth of information for the reader to learn what all is involved in getting our current Bible.
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for my review.