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How We Got the Bible 3rd Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801012525
ISBN-10: 080101252X
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Find answers to key questions about the Bible.

How accurate are modern translations such as the New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version? Why does the Roman Catholic Bible have more books than most Protestant Bibles? How can we be sure that the Biblical message has been accurately preserved through the centuries? How We Got the Bible, after more than forty years, has become a classic source of answers for these and other questions on how the Bible has come down to us.

Now in this revised edition, you will find five new chapters covering the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, the Sinaitic Manuscript, the illuminated manuscripts, and more. Every chapter in this edition includes new material, followed by a brief summary and questions for discussion. Neil R. Lightfoot deals with technical issues in non-technical language, making this book a valuable tool for any reader.

Back flap

Neil R. Lightfoot (Ph.D., Duke University) serves as Frank Pack Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. He is the author of several books, including Everyone's Guide to Hebrews.

From the Back Cover

"Popular and readable."
Christianity Today

How old are the earliest Biblical manuscripts?
How has the Bible been preserved and transmitted to us?
Why do we have so many different translations of the Bible?
How did early Christians decide which writings to include in the Bible?

How We Got the Bible provides well-researched, accessible answers to many questions like these. Learn about the first materials used to write down the words of Scripture. Uncover the facts of some of history's most fascinating archaeological discoveries, including those of the Sinaitic Manuscript, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Travel through history, from Jerome to Tyndale and beyond, as Neil R. Lightfoot discusses the origin, transmission, and translation of the Bible.

Illustrations and review questions at the end of each chapter make this book ideal for either individual or group study. Concise and engaging, How We Got the Bible is a useful resource for anyone who wants to know the story behind the most widely read book of all time.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; 3 edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080101252X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801012525
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,322,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian E. Baker on April 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Wondering how the Bible came to be?
Wondering about translation issues?
This is the book for you. Lightfoot gives a good explanation of how the Bible was created and transmitted down through the centuries. The book covers the history of the written language, writing materials, Biblical archaeology, textual criticism, and translational issues.
The book has pros and cons.
Pro: The research is top notch. The author has gone to great lengths to investigate the textual transmission of the Bible.
Pro: The material is explained in an easy-to-understand manner. One need not have a Masters in History or Archaeology to understand this book.
Pro: The book includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
Con: Though the book is well footnoted, the footnotes are all listed in the back of the book by chapter. I prefer footnotes to be either at the bottom of the page that references them or at the end of each chapter. Placing them at the end of the book makes research difficult.
Con: The research and information presented is quite brief. The book presents an excellent overview of the topic but does not go into extensive detail on each topic. Likely, this is not the author's intent but a little more wouldn't have hurt.
I recommend this book for anyone who is wanting to study Bibliology. It's a good place to start.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To be fair, what this book does cover was done very well. The primary focus of the book demonstrates and does a good job proving that the texts we use today in the Bible have been accurately passed through the years. The author presented abundant information in this regard.

Where the book falls short is the discussion of how the canon came together. Why did the letter to Jude get included? Didn't Paul write some other letters?

The author relies too much on the reader's faith in the Bible and reinforces their affirmation that the Bible is true. I was expecting more history of how the original texts were included in the first place.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always wondered (and I'm sure many others have, too) how that Bible I'm always holding on Sunday morning got to be put together in the first place.

But in this day and age of busy schedules who is really going to go to a library and do some exhaustive research on the subject? That's why you need to read this book, because the research is already done for you and presented in a way that even the average person can understand it. You won't be inundated with technical words and jibberish.

The book (this is a review of the SECOND edition) is neatly divided into 13 chapters, each little over 10 pages long. Makes for easy reading during your lunch break or whatever freetime you have in your day. And as if that wasn't simplistic enough, each chapter is ended by a summary, followed by some questions that would make this book great in a classroom environment.

The chapters are as follows:

1) The Making of Ancient Books, 2) The Birth of the Bible, 3) Manuscripts of the New Testament, 4)Other Manuscripts and New Testament Witnesses, 5) The Text of the New Testament, 6)Significance of Textual Variations, 7) Restoring the New Testament Text, 8) The Text of the Old Testament, 9)The Canon of the Scriptures, 10)The Apocryphal Books, 11) The English Bible to 1611, 12) Recent Translations of the English Bible, 13)"My Words Will Not Pass Away".

I found this book very helpful in answering my questions. Sure, it doesn't go very deep into any one subject, but that is not the point of this book. This book is only meant as a brief overview. If there is a specific aspect of the history of the Bible that you're interested in then you should look elsewhere.
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Straightforward and easy to read, How We Got the Bible is most helpful because it so important to know the background and historicity of the Bible. If we are to defend the truths we learn in Scripture, we have to know why Scripture is credible. I will return to this text, because, although I highlighted the heck out of it, I still find myself struggling during conversations with skeptics,--nable to remember when the Sinaitic manuscript was made, and the exact chronology of the canon's development.

Lightfoot's work has whet my appetite for the history of the Bible. I will soon go back through the book, making notes of some of the most important points made. Items such as:

"The Massoretes...sought ways and methods by which to eliminate scribal slips of addition or omission. This they achieved through intricate procedures of counting. They numbered the verses, words and letters..."

"Copies of Thucydides are thus about 1,300 years later than the date of their original composition, yet no effort is made to discount these copies in spite of such a wide interval of time."

Also, Lightfoot's sound explanation of the weaknesses of the King James Version was quite timely. I recall a recent conversation with a fellow who is of the "KJV only" persuasion. While I was initially sympathetic to him, assuming it to be simply a matter of taste, I have come to realize that the profound shortcomings of the KJV make it inappropriate for regular use in worship and instruction. And, worse, some people even seem to use the KJV as a form of legalism and fencing of the Scripture, keeping anyone who speaks modern English from a true understanding of the text.
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