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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Resource for Understanding the History of the Bible, October 1, 2007
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This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
God's promise to uphold and protect His Word is a precious and reassuring promise. To observe how God has accomplished this throughout the ages is edifying and faith strengthening. The Journey from Texts to Translations by Paul D. Wegner is a meticulously researched and richly illustrated treatment of the Bible's transmission and translation, from ancient manuscripts to popular English Bibles, showing us the practical means by which God has sovereignly guided the development of Scripture.

After covering some preliminary matters regarding the Bible--it's nature, it's purpose, and some brief introductions into each section of the Bible--Wegner begins the journey at the ground level, with a discussion of the earliest forms of writing and their subsequent development. After some investigation into the history of language, Wegner arrives at the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek dialect and examines some important factors regarding the languages of the Old and New Testaments.

Wegner continues the journey with a lengthly discussion of canonicity, covering such topics as the Old Testament canon, the New Testament canon, the apocrypha and the pseudepigrapha. In this section we learn how both the Old Testament and New Testament canons were formed and what factors determined why certain books were placed into the canon and why other books were left out.

Textual criticism is treated at length as well, as Wegner examines a host of sources for both Old Testament and New Testament, demonstrating the manifold manuscripts and textual witnesses that provide abundant evidence for the both testaments. Despite the fact that we do not possess the original manuscripts, we are able to construct, by the existing copies we do posses, an extremely accurate text for all the Scripture. God has protected His Word!

From here we are taken to the history of the English Bible. We are introduced great men like Wycliffe and Tyndale, and provided the opportunity to trace the legacy of the English Bible from its beginnings in 14th century England, to its prominence in modern day America. Some noteworthy English translations that are examined are the King James Version, New King James Version, American Standard Version, the Living Bible and the Message. Each translation is studied in terms of its historical development, specific qualities, translation approach and concluded with brief critique.

On the whole, this is an edifying and informative read. It is just over 400 pages, and is thick with charts, pictures, mini-biographies and a host of other helpful materials. It will benefit any student of the Bible who desires to better understand the history of the Bible, whether they read it from cover to cover, or only use it as a reference.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Tool, March 4, 2014
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This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
In a much publicized debate between Bill Nye the Science guy and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, a common retort was made by the non-Christian position that the Bible had been translated hundreds of times over the last three millennia before it ever made it into American English. The implication was clear—the transmission and translation process of the Bible is much akin to the children’s’ game telephone. Is this true? Paul D. Wegner, professor of Old Testament at Phoenix Seminary, has written an excellent and thorough text on the history of the Bible. With a keen eye to history and a wealth of knowledge concerning the various manuscripts, Dr. Wegner highlights the flaccidity of the charge against the Bible.

The book is divided into five parts: preliminary matters regarding the Bible, canonization of the Bible, transmission of the Bible, early translations of the Bible, and English translations of the Bible. Section one discusses various preliminary issues concerning the creation and nature of the Bible. What is the Bible? What is the relationship between the two covenants? How does the synoptic problem affect interpretation? These questions and more are answered in a systematic and holistic fashion. Part two shows the development of the canon within the inner-workings of the early church. By the time of Jesus, an established Old Testament canon existed and the new functioned soon after the death of the apostles. Heresy, persecution, missionary usage and other factors drove the early church into recognizing and codifying a New Testament canon.

The third portion of the book spent considerable time discussing the transmission of the Bible. Where did the Greek and Hebrew texts come from and how reliable are they? What manuscripts do we have and what are their dates? What communities developed the text and for what purpose were they created? After offering a lengthy dialogue on each testament, the other shows the value of translations of the Bible in different languages. The author also offers broad principles relating to textual criticism. Part four is the shortest division within the book and seeks to educate the reader about other translations floating around the Roman world in the centuries following the time of the apostles. The author gives special care to informing one of the historical context behind the early printing of the Bible. Because of the Renaissance and the invention of the printing press, the need for a Bible in English was apparent and almost inevitable. Gutenberg’s first book printed was Jerome’s Latin Vulgate which began the process of disseminating the Bible throughout the West.

The last section of the book is on English translations of the Bible. The author breaks this section up into smaller subunits based upon the time period: English Bibles prior to 1611, modern English Bibles up to 1950, and modern translations from 1950. In light of the cultural and literary significance of the authorized version of the Bible, the writer devotes a whole chapter to its history and revisions. A special appendix is tacked onto the chapter discussing the unfortunate “KJV Only” debate in the Church today. The work closes answering the question of “Why are there so many English translations?”

Dr. Wegner remarks, “The purpose of the book is to provide a general survey of how the Bible we use came to be in its present form.” In my opinion, the author met his goal and much more. Within the span of only four hundred pages, the author indeed offered a lot of valuable information about the Bibles we cherish in our churches today. The value of the book is threefold: education, defense, and encouragement. Wegner’s book obviously educates the average Christian sitting in the pew on how we got our Bibles. Because pastors are mainly focused on teaching and preaching from the text and not necessarily discussing its integrity and textual history, this book offers the laymen a plethora of arrows in their intellectual quiver. The section alone of the various modern translations is worth the price of the book. There are good reasons why some preach from one translation as opposed to another. The book also serves an apologetic purpose. Snide and clever witticisms about the text from disbelieving dissenters can be rebuffed with the knowledge gleaned from Wegner’s book. The transmission of the Bible is a more sophisticated, tedious, and careful process than any analogy from the telephone game can provide. Lastly, the book bolsters our confidence in the Bible. The author shows that great trouble was taken in the transmission and translation process in such a way that the average reader can be sure that the text is accurate and worthy of their spiritual studiousness.

I perceived at least three important strengths of the book. First, the text is comprehensive in its scope. Almost no stone was left unturned. While more could be said on each and every subject mentioned, I did not feel the author short-changed the reader in any area. One can walk away with at least sufficient knowledge on these issues. Second, the book was both readable yet scholarly. The author did not write using unclear and difficult concepts without taking the time to explain and define the words. Many books of this caliber tend to go over the heads of the readers. This work avoided such a trap while remaining scholarly. Dr. Wegner wrote in his preface that “The discussions in this book are directed primarily toward the undergraduate student or layperson…” and remained true to form throughout. Last, the book contained many charts, maps, figures and graphs that further elucidated and extended the work’s intended aim. It is one thing to read a lengthy chapter about a manuscript. It is another thing to see the various manuscripts discussed. One walks away with a greater appreciation for the text by getting to see the manuscripts and textual variants within them. This allowed the author to include more information without having to stop the flow of his argument.

There are not many apparent weaknesses I could perceive from the book. I do however think the work could have been strengthened with some extra chapters or appendixes on what the major confessions and creeds say about Scripture and also a chapter on the importance of the Bible in the Global South. Though the book was not mainly a theological treatise seeking to discuss such issues as the inerrancy, sufficiency, and perspicuity of Scripture, something brief on those topics might lend the book broader appeal in evangelicalism. Also, the shape of global Christianity has radically changed within the last century and a nod at how the Bible is valued and utilized in non-Western locales would greatly strengthen the book. How is the Bible used in those contexts? Is it different from our own? All in all, an author cannot say everything so should not be faulted for leaving out such things as long as he or she is comprehensive. From my perspective, there was no bias that hindered the author’s work. At times, the author in fact appeared to be neutral and objective as he described various debates surrounding the text. For example, when discussing the KJV Only debate, he merely gave the arguments without his position. The arguments can speak for themselves.

I personally look forward to utilizing the information gleaned from this book in the local Church. There exists widespread ignorance on how we got our bibles and the science of textual criticism. Many times, Christians do not even care to learn about these topics until pushed by unbelievers in these specific areas. Educating our youth and others who sit in the pew can only encourage the faithful in their mission to the world. Without an adequate defense of Scripture, the Church’s message many times can and will be dismissed out of hand by the person we are evangelizing. Furthermore, Dr. Wegner’s “For Further Reading” portions after each chapter are an invaluable tool for lay-level apologists and seekers wanting more knowledge. I would and plan to recommend this book for anyone genuinely interested in the history of God’s Word.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great choice, March 8, 2007
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Jay Foreman (Charlotte, NC. USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
This is a great book. I was looking for a book as an "Honors" extra, to read for The Theology Program at [...]. This is an easy and exciting book to read that follows right along with our 10 week semester on Bibliology and Hermeneutics. It has provided extra insight for understanding and discussion of "How do we know that we have the right Bible? How can my 1988 NIV Bible be the same as 400 BC Old Testament? 100 AD New Testament? I had little knowledge of this subject before this semester and this book was very helpful, yet not "Over my head."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, December 14, 2012
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This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
Excellent book for learning and understanding the background of the Bible. It takes you literally from oral traditions all the way through to todays NLT and the Message Bible. It breaks down how and why the translations were written. There are a few translations I would have liked to see in here but this was more than a summary in my eyes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the Bible was passed through generations, February 12, 2005
This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible is a highly detailed explanation of how the Bible that Christians use today came to be in its present form. Explaining how various books of the bible came to be collected into a single canon text, describing how the Bible was passed through generations, discussing how and why early versions were produced, exploring myriad subtle differences in English translations, and more. Black-and-white photographs illustrate this extensive and fascinating documentation, as informative and compelling for lay readers as for professional scholars.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good overall for the general Bible student, March 20, 2007
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This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
If you are not a Theology graduate student, but you are deeply interested in the basic aspects of the origin, composition, transmission and translation of the Bible, then this is just the book for you. It does not go too deep technically, but just enough to stimulate further and deeper study of the Scripture. In the presentation of the difficult aspects regarding the above named biblical characteristics, this book does a very good job - especially because the text is fluid and easy to understand, and there is no sign of undue partiality from the author, just the natural enthusiasm of a true believer in the God-inspired nature of the Bible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good section on the Apocrypha, November 16, 2014
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This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
Had been searching for just such a book. Not difficult reading for college level. Very good section on the Apocrypha, with lists and charts. I LOVE lists! Even lists the reasons why the various apocryphal writings were not accepted as canon by most. An excellent reference for budding students studying manuscripts and source documents.
Rachel Cory
prophecyviewpoint.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!!!!, June 13, 2014
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C. Ojeda (Chicago, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
Fantastic and easy to read. The evidence is overwhelming that the Bible you hold in your hands is God's word supernaturally preserved for us!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, September 3, 2009
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This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
This was just a neat book to read. Have you ever wondered where the Bible came from? Did it just fall out of the sky and land in someone's lap? If you've ever wondered how the Bible was compiled, this is the book for you. It will answer all of your questions. I will likely read it again in the future.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, August 26, 2014
This review is from: The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Paperback)
A bit difficult to grasp.
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The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible
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