Monday, April 29, 2013

From God to Us- How We Got Our Bible - By Norman Geisler and William Nix


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This is an excellent look into the transmission of God's Word.  Instead of starting out with material proofs or by appealing to ones feelings regarding the inspiration of the Bible,  Geisler and Nix hold the Holy Scriptures as the ultimate authority and use the Bible as the main and first proof of its own inspiration and authenticity.  Their method reminds me of a quote I read once that went something along these lines: "The Scriptures revolve on their own axis.  They do not disdain indirect assistance, from secular investigations; but they mainly depend on their own inexhaustible resources and treasures."(E. W. Grinfield)  The authors of this examination use the prophets and apostles own references and quotations of each others God given Scriptures as evidence.  And in regards to the Old and New Testaments they use Christ's quoting and referencing it as special proof.  They first emphasize belief in the God of the Bible and in Jesus' divinity, and then demonstrate that Christ's usage of Scripture as God's Word leads to a logical imperative conclusion that the Scriptures are therefore the Word of God.  "Jesus said, 'Scripture cannot be broken' (John 10:35). On numerous occasions our Lord appealed to the written Word of God as final arbitrator for faith and practice.  He claimed Scripture as His authority for cleansing the temple(Mark 11:17), for rebuking the tradition of Pharisees(Matt. 15:3, 4);.. for settling doctrinal disputes(Matt. 22:29).."   

After letting the God's Word be its own proof, the authors then move on to secondary matters, other logical reasons as to the Bible being the truth.  I like that with these secondary proofs, such as Archaeological evidence supporting the Bibles claims, the authors make sure to point out that this evidence is merely supporting evidence, this evidence does not make the Bible true, the Bible is true regardless.  This is the same way they treat the development of the Canon, "Canonicity is determined by God and discovered by man." The Words of God are inspired whether or not man has come to the conclusion that they are inspired.  I like those points. 

Moving on to the development of the Canon, the collection of books that we hold as God's Word, they then look into its transmission and translations down through the centuries.   This is not a high level overview of the Bible, it is an intricate look at how God has chosen to preserve and compile His Word by means of human beings copying, translating, and collecting it, examining older copies of it  and collating its  manuscripts.  It gets quite detailed about the various old manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments  we have to work from.  But I found those details very interesting.  Also, Geisler and Nix keep repeating what various manuscript symbols mean, they don't just assume you'll remember them after merely seeing them one time.  And having short-term memory I appreciate that.

 Now as I say(or at least think) with regards to any book I have read besides the Bible, there are things that I do not agree with in this book, but overall it was very informative.   Speaking of not completely agreeing with any other book, the quote I want to end with from this one fits very well:

 "No article of faith may be based on any noncanonical work, regardless of its religious value. 
The divinely inspired and authoritative books are the sole basis for doctrine and practice.  Whatever complimentary support canonical truth derives from other books, it in no way lends canonical value to those books.  The support is purely historical and has no authoritative theological value.  The truth of inspired Scripture alone is the canon or foundation of the truths of faith."

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this
review. Thanks MoodyPublishers! 





Wednesday, April 3, 2013

One Perfect Life


One Perfect Life is a 'Harmony of the Gospels' type of compilation.  MacArthur notes in his introduction that, "The Holy Spirit gave us four Gospels and, specifically, three of them are synoptic …so that the truth concerning our Lord and Savior might be established on the basis of two or three witnesses." Using Matthew as a base text, MacArthur uses these four witnesses to piece together their complete picture of the life of Christ.  Instead of putting the Gospels in parallel columns, the accounts are morphed together forming one account.  For instance, sentences from Luke fill in spaces that are not recounted in the same account given by Matthew.  To keep a distinction between the accounts, listed beneath each 'chapter' heading are the chapter and verse numbers of each of the Gospel accounts blended in that particular chapter.  In the chapter itself, tiny superscript abbreviations of the names of the Gospels are used to mark the transition of one verse from Luke(LK), for instance, into Matthew(MT). 

Instead of starting at the birth of Christ, Macarthur starts before Christ came to earth, using particular verses from prophecies of Him and accounts of His pre-existence and divinity taken various Old Testament texts and from the letters of the Disciples.  To give you an idea of how this works, here is how the whole account starts, "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.(Gn)In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was made in the beginning with God.  And all things are made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.(1Jn)."  And again, the superscript is tiny, not large as it is in my quote, so the individual verses actually flow right into each other.  And, instead of immediately ending at Christ's ascension, the book ends with  a blending of the Apostles' and Disciples' recountings of the Gospel  from their letters,  how the prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled, how we are to be living in light of this, and our expectation of Christ's coming again.   

This compilation is definitely a favorite of mine.  I highly recommend getting it.  One of the interesting discoveries I made while reading it was that some of Christ's discourses in the Gospel accounts that I thought were parallel with one another, often having almost the exact same discourses, are not necessarily parallel, but are rather repetitions.  It seems that Christ said the same thing in various places.  It is interesting to think that God had Matthew, Mark, Luke and John remember and recount the same sayings of Christ yet where one of them, Matthew for instance, might remember Him saying certain things at a certain place and time, but John remembers Him saying the same things on another day and in another town. 

Also a major component of this work is commentary by Macarthur underneath the texts.  I do not agree with all of his opinions, for instance on the so called 'exception clause' when Christ is speaks of divorce and remarriage.  But a lot of the commentary I am sure will be quite helpful.  I like one insight in particular, when he comments on Christ's parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.  When the Rich Man dies and is in Hades he asks Abraham across the great gulf if he can go back to earth and warn his brothers about this place.   Abraham answers and says, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead." Macarthur comments, "This speaks powerfully of the singular sufficiency of the Scripture to overcome unbelief.  The Gospel itself is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16)…Since unbelief is at heart a moral, rather than an intellectual problem, no amount of evidences will ever turn unbelief to faith.  But the revealed Word of God has inherent power to do so…"

All in all, I thought it was very interesting to read the life of our Lord from this combined perspective. 

 I received this book as a complimentary copy from BookSneeze® in exchange for my review(which does not have to be favorable).

This book may be purchased at Amazon.com