A Book Review
What paths and processes stand between the original written words of Scripture and modern Bibles printed today? The Bible’s history is complex and often misunderstood. You can find technical books about textual criticism and canonicity—specific aspects of the Bible’s transmission. But John Meade and Peter Gurry expertly explain the Bible’s transmission in Scribes and Scripture: The Amazing Story of How We Got the Bible. Both authors are well-informed and thoroughly evangelical in their faith commitments. Accuracy, honesty, and theological orthodox permeate every page of what is the best introduction to the Bible’s history I’ve ever read.
Divided into three parts, Scribes and Scriptures examines the subjects of text, canon, and translation. Meade specializes in the Old Testament; Gurry in the New. Together, they describe the scribal processes for both Testaments, the formation of the canon, and the translation of Scripture from the Septuagint to the latest Bible modern English Bible translations. They handle the evidence with integrity. Textual variants exist. We don’t have a perfect understanding of which Old Testament books the Jews recognized as canonical. Early Christians valued uninspired noncanonical books along with the Scriptures. Modern Bible translations don’t always agree. This book acknowledges issues like these while affirming all the reasons we can trust the reliability of the Bible.
The authors of this book excel at presenting technical discussions in a clear and engaging form. Some readers may raise an eyebrow at scholarly topics like the Syriac Philoxenian and Harklean translations of the Bible. Some readers might skim over long lists of historical evidence for the canonicity of the Catholic Epistles. But, overall, this book is fun to read and spiritually encouraging. Meade and Gurry point out God’s amazing providence again and again as they paint the Bible’s history. Their work is historical and theological. Scribes and Scripture is an amazing book that I wish every Christian would read.
Additional Note: A short list of recommended books for further reading appears at the end of each chapter. For some reason, the chapter “Early and Medieval Bible Translation” does not include Lanier and Ross’s recent book, also published by Crossway, entitled The Septuagint: What It Is and Why It Matters. It’s a great book, John Meade even endorsed it, and you should read it!
Image Credit: Crossway. Special thanks to Crossway for a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.