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Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?: A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture Paperback – February 29, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Standing athwart the tide of strident voices currently demanding that we abandon confidence in the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible, the chapters in this volume constitute a defense of historic Christian confessionalism on the nature of Scripture. Mercifully, however, they are not mere regurgitations of past positions. Rather, they are informed, competent, and sometimes creative contributions that urgently deserve the widest circulation. In months and years to come, I shall repeatedly refer students and pastors to this collection.”
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Cofounder, The Gospel Coalition

“Few Christian convictions are of as pervasive importance as the absolute perfection of Scripture—and few convictions fall under more perennial criticism. Hence the need for this volume, which seeks to defend the evangelical doctrine of biblical inerrancy against scholars who argue that in accommodating his truth to human understanding, God has made his Word susceptible to error. Here James Hoffmeier, Dennis Magary, and a broad range of learned colleagues take seriously the self-witness of Scripture and respond to some of the latest, hardest objections to inerrancy by providing clear, comprehensive, persuasive, and charitable answers. Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? is an invaluable resource for any student of Scripture who doubts the doctrine of inerrancy or has serious questions about the historical reliability of the Bible.”
Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College

“Whether in a university open forum or in the church, I am consistently asked about the trustworthiness and authority of Scripture. I am therefore delighted that the authors have engaged the critics’ challenge as well as the Bible afresh and met the arguments head-on with insightful scholarship and the historicity of Scripture. I commend this unique and timely volume and believe it will be an important work for decades to come.”
Ravi Zacharias, Founder and President, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries; author, Jesus Among Other Gods

“To scholars unconvinced of the classical Christian doctrine of Holy Scripture, Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? offers a challenge both substantive in its argumentation and respectful in its tone. To scholars convinced of this doctrine, this volume models how to advance the argument on a multidisciplinary, evidentialist basis. We owe the editors and authors a debt of gratitude.”
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee

“The debate over biblical inerrancy is a crucial issue for evangelicals. Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? is an important response to this challenge, and its essays, written by leading evangelical scholars, present a robust defense of the reliability of the historical narratives of the Bible. The book makes a compelling case that holding to inerrancy does not mean one must avoid examining the issues raised by critical scholarship, but rather the accuracy of Scripture can itself be the conclusion of a reasoned and critical examination of the evidence.”
Michelle Lee-Barnewall, Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Biola University; author, Paul, the Stoics, and the Body of Christ

“This is a book that has been sorely needed. The Bible has long been under attack from those outside evangelical faith, and now more recently from those supposedly inside. Here in one volume the questions are addressed in a comprehensive way, including theological, historical-critical, and archaeological issues. Written with an irenic tone—and yet confronting the questions directly—this book will surely take a prominent place on the shelves of all those who love the Bible and look for solid answers to give to its detractors. The editors are to be commended for bringing the book to fruition and for their breadth of vision in organizing it.”
John Oswalt, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

“James Hoffmeier and Dennis Magary have assembled a first-rate team of evangelical writers to join them in exploring the historical issues related to the interpretation of Holy Scripture and the formation of Christian theology. Each chapter makes a significant contribution to this comprehensive and focused volume—which both affirms and defends the complete truthfulness and full authority of the Bible while fully engaging the questions and challenges raised by modern and postmodern approaches to biblical interpretation. Informative and winsome, this impressive work will be immensely helpful for a generation of students, pastors, and scholars alike.”
David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University

“How evangelicals view the Bible has been, and continues to be, under attack. This volume effectively defends the Bible’s historicity and adeptly explains why it matters. Any pastor or person teaching and defending the Bible will be greatly helped by this book.”
Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

“Today, some so-called evangelicals have questioned and outright denied the full extent of the inerrancy, authority, and trustworthiness of God’s Word, claiming it may apply to faith and practice but not to history and science. As disturbing as these claims are against the Scriptures, I give thanks to God that they have prompted an excellent response, so that we now have a much stronger foundation for affirming the inerrancy of God’s Word, including matters of history. Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? is one of the best and most thorough treatments in defense of the Bible as completely true and trustworthy in the realm of history. It is a much-needed antidote to some so-called evangelicals’ unhealthy (and inaccurate) view of inerrancy. In matters relating to the doctrine of the Scriptures, this will be the book I recommend to pastors and leaders. It will serve them and the church well, and deserves the highest of commendations!”
Gregory C. Strand, Director of Biblical Theology and Credentialing, Evangelical Free Church of America

“Here is a collection of first-rate essays written by an international team of scholars, each affirming what must be called the historic Christian view of Holy Scripture—that the Bible, God’s Word written, is trustworthy and totally true in all that it affirms. Rather than simply rehearsing platitudes of the past, this volume advances the argument in the light of current debate and recent challenges. A magisterial undertaking to be reckoned with.”
Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture

“In recent decades evangelicals have felt increasing pressure to abandon their high views of Scripture—a pressure that comes not only from scholars outside their circles, but also from some inside. This volume represents a welcome response to both, but especially to the latter. The contributors represent evangelical scholarship at its best as they address critical challenges with clarity and conviction, even while keeping their tone civil and charitable. This book will serve as a handy reference tool for students, pastors, and scholars who need a fair and responsible treatment of the evidence and clear declaration of their conclusions.”
Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College

“Twenty-first-century hubris insists on immediate answers from a Book of great antiquity that is fundamentally about God’s intervention in human history. Yet even with advances in scientific archaeological method and modern scholarship, there is still much to learn about the Bible’s ancient setting, language, history, and sociopolitical context. This book engages honestly with a number of thorny issues concerning the history and evidence for key biblical narratives. Its propositions are robustly defended in a clear yet scholarly fashion, making it accessible to informed lay and academic readers alike. I commend it to anyone seeking an orthodox evangelical perspective on the flash points in current debates about the historicity of the Scriptures.”
Karin Sowada, CEO, Anglican Deaconess Ministries Ltd.; Hon. Research Associate, Macquarie University

“Singapore Bible College was founded in 1952 to uphold the authority of God’s Word at the time when the Scriptures were under severe attack from the liberals of that era. Today, we are a living testimony to the effectiveness and authority of God’s Word as we expound a Bible-based theological education. The mocking of the Word of God did not liberate people from what the liberals claimed to be superstition or outdated scholarship. But it did destroy the faith of many poorly grounded believers, confused the church concerning her mission and purpose, created tension in the mission field, and set the church backward on many fronts in Asia and elsewhere. James Hoffmeier and Dennis Magary have assembled an able team of evangelical scholars to address and defend the issues of the authority of God’s Word from the theological, biblical, and archaeological perspectives. They are not afraid to face the issues head-on in a comprehensive and thorough manner, yet with the right spirit. I hope this book will help many students of the Scriptures to have a deeper conviction of the authoritative and inerrant Word of God.”
Albert Ting, Principal, Singapore Bible College

“This volume well documents the analysis and evidence integral to understanding the role of historical data in biblical understanding. The authors are to be congratulated for writing a book that would withstand rigorous cross-examination!”
Mark Lanier, President, Christian Trial Lawyers Association; author of numerous legal books and articles; owner, Lanier Theological Library

“To the credit of its editors and authors, this book is not so much a reaction to the recent statements of Peter Enns and Kenton Sparks on biblical inerrancy, which called it forth, but an apologetic response to their works. To that effect, it is not a monument to the doctrine, but rather an advancement of its method and intent.”
C. Hassell Bullock, Pastor, Warren Park Presbyterian Church, Cicero, Illinois; Franklin S. Dyrness Professor of Biblical Studies Emeritus, Wheaton College

“This is a timely work, both in the sense that it addresses an emerging issue—a loss of confidence in the historicity of the Bible—and in the sense that its authors are conversant in the current state of the debate. The topics discussed include all the essentials: the foundational theological issues, the major source-critical and historical-critical questions, and matters arising from archaeology. This book will be a valuable resource for both scholars and students.”
Duane A. Garrett, Professor of Old Testament, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew and Amos: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text

“This is a brilliant response to evangelical skeptics such as Peter Enns and Kenton Sparks, and, in a broader sense, also to mainstream skeptics such as Philip Davies, Keith Whitelam, or Robert Coote. The list of contributors is a stellar lineup of first-rate scholars in their disciplines who defend the traditional, orthodox view of Scripture as historically reliable in sophisticated and convincing ways. Even those who might remain unconvinced of the book’s main argument will have to rethink their positions. I highly recommend this work.”
David M. Howard Jr., Professor of Old Testament, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota

“This book takes us to the front lines of many of the contemporary confrontations in critical scholarship, addressing the skeptics head-on. A host of able defenders contend for the trustworthiness of the Bible in the face of critical challenges and fairly criticize some of the ‘assured results’ of biblical criticism—opening the way for a more confident faith. Only the Holy Spirit himself can fully confirm the truth of God’s Word, but he can use books like this to confound the doubter and affirm the faithful.”
Bill Kynes, Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church, Annandale, Virginia; author, A Christology of Solidarity

“This is a thoughtful and heartening response to Sparks and other progressive evangelicals who believe the time has come to move beyond what they perceive to be an outdated view of Scripture’s inerrancy. Those seeking to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15) will find here methodological, philosophical, theological, archaeological, and geographical resources for navigating the historical context of Scripture that call attention to its divine origins. Hoffmeier and Magary have provided a great service to the academy and church in this scholarly compilation of evangelical writers who conserve the tradition of the plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Soli Deo gloria.”
Laura C. Miguélez, Adjunct Professor of Theology, Wheaton College

About the Author

James K. Hoffmeier (PhD, University of Toronto), who has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels for more than thirty years, is now professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern archaeology at Trinity International University. Born and raised in Egypt, he has been a refugee from war and an alien in two different countries, making him sensitive to immigration issues.

DENNIS R. MAGARY, (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is chair of the department and associate professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Darrell L. Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center, senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, and senior Bible teacher for Back to the Bible radio. He is the author of over forty books. Darrell lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Sally. They have three children and four grandchildren.

WILLEM VANGEMEREN is director of the Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies program and professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

Bob Yarbrough (PhD, University of Aberdeen, Scotland) is professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He was previously professor of New Testament and department chair at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author or coauthor of several books and is active in pastoral training in Africa.

Graham A. Cole (ThD, Australian College of Theology) is the dean and professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. An ordained Anglican minister, he has served in two parishes and was formerly the principal of Ridley College. Graham lives in Libertyville, Illinois, with his wife, Jules.

Michael G. Hasel (PhD, University of Arizona) is Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Archaeology at the School of Religion, Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. He has authored numerous articles and books in biblical studies, archaeology, and Egyptology.

Michael A. G. Haykin (ThD, University of Toronto) is professor of church history and biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He has authored or edited more than twenty-five books, including Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (February 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433525712
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433525711
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are a lot of books that seek to expose problems in the Bible and many others that seek to defend its truthfulness. My shelves are full of books that address issues related to the historicity and truthfulness of the Bible. But there area lot of people, especially in today's postmodern culture, who tend to take a rather apathetic approach to these issues. In fact, on more than one occasion I have had friends state that it doesn't matter much whether or not the events recorded in Scripture actually happened... we just need to take the moral teachings of Jesus and the Bible and see them for what they are.

The natural question, then, is simple: does the history that is presented in the Bible actually matter to the Christian faith? What are we to make of all the current skeptics of the Bible and the advocates for its distrust?

A recent work has taken on this very issue, Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?, edited by James K. Hoffmeier and Dennis R. Magary. Over twenty scholars contribute well-researched essays that cover a variety of topics, including issues related to Biblical, Systematic, & Historical Theology, the Old & New Testaments, and Biblical Archaeology.

There's a lot covered here, so where do we begin? Since this is a blog review and not an academic journal, I'll keep try and cover the essential details that some of my readers will be interested in.

First, I believe the book accomplishes it's purpose. John D.
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Format: Paperback
Hoffmeier, James K. and Dennis R. Magary, Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 542 pages.*

Every generation sees the rise of fresh (or recycled) criticism against the authority and inerrancy of the Scriptures. In our generation, such books by Peter Inns (Inspiration and Incarnation) and Kenton Sparks (God's Word in Human Words) are some of the recent publications criticizing and in some cases attacking the "evangelical" high view of Scripture.

In response to such books as these, James K. Hoffmeier and Dennis R. Magary, both professors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, have assembled an impressive, international team of scholars to respond to modern and postmodern criticism of the Scriptures in a massive collection of over twenty essays spanning 500+ pages.

The book is divided into four main sections:

Biblical, Systematic, and Historical Theology
The Old Testament and Issues of History, Authenticity, and Authority
The New Testament and Issues of History, Authenticity, and Authority
The Old Testament and Archeology
Instead of summarizing each chapter, I will highlight some of the noteworthy chapters in this book and I will conclude with a few overall comments of commendation and criticism.

In the first section, a noteworthy chapter is Hoffmeier's on why the historical Exodus is essential for theology. In this chapter, Hoffmeier demonstrates how the historical Exodus has its fingerprint all throughout the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) and the New Testament.
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Format: Paperback
Do historical matters matter to faith? This is an intriguing question. Though the answer may seem obvious to many it is not so to others. To many evangelical Christians, Scripture, among many things, is an historical book that gives us a window into a time gone by in world history. There are events, places and people it gives an account of that only it gives us an account of. To those would answer no to the beginning question these historical discrepancies leave them questioning the historical accuracy of the text and sometimes abandoning it all together. To those who would answer yes, they either have to say Scripture is plain wrong or, as a historically reliable witness to these things, it is the only record we have of them and can be trusted as much as any other historical text as a single witness to the past. What are Bible believing Christians to make of this?

For decades, this discussion has been raging but it seems to have picked up more steam more recently with the work, among others, of Kenton Sparks and his book God's Word in Human Words. In short, Sparks calls into question the inerrancy of Scripture in regards to its historical reliability. To Sparks, Scripture is no less authoritative in its theological assertions and worldview even if the historical references it makes are tied to those theological assertions. To many evangelical Christians who hold to the traditional understanding of Scriptures authority and inerrancy this is problematic.

In an effort to respond to Sparks work, and that of others, James K. Hoffmeier and Dennis R. Magary have edited a new book titled Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?: A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture.
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