This review appeared in the Jul-Sep 2011 vol. 168 no. 3 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
Ancient Word, Changing Worlds: The Doctrine of Scripture in a Modern AgeCrossway, Wheaton, IL March 10, 2009
Nichols is research professor of Christianity and culture at Lancaster Bible College, and Brandt was his student and is currently studying historical theology at Wheaton College Graduate School. In this book they briefly survey some of the controversy surrounding the doctrine of Scripture over the past 150 years. “The Bible has a rich history in the modern world. Copies are given away at weddings and births and placed in hotel room nightstands. Hands are placed on it for the taking of oaths. And, as many country songs point out, it is almost ubiquitously regarded as the Good Book. But the Bible also faces its share of attacks and criticism. In the face of those attacks, many biblical scholars and theologians have taken up the challenge of defending and commending the Bible. They have labored to show that an ancient book does indeed have something to say to modern and even postmodern people. This book seeks to tell that story” (p. 16).
The book is divided into three major sections: inspiration, inerrancy, and interpretation. These are each defined and defended in a chapter. The authors provide biblical and historical support for the doctrines, an introduction to the recent controversies, and then conclude with an explanation of the significance of this discussion. After that, for each of these doctrines, a chapter provides brief selections of primary sources from the debates. In this way the authors allow the major voices representing a variety of perspectives in the debates to speak for themselves.
As an introduction to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture this is a helpful book. The authors also included a useful, cursory survey of issues of biblical interpretation, since there are a variety of ways that modern and postmodern Christians are reading the Bible. Some readers will wish chapters had also been devoted to the doctrines of the Bible’s authority, sufficiency, and canonicity. Although these topics are discussed within the treatment of inspiration and inerrancy, perhaps they are worthy of more extended treatment. Also some readers will wish more attention had been devoted to exegetical arguments and biblical support for the doctrines.
This book achieves its worthwhile purpose of introducing readers to these issues. The book is timely, user-friendly, and easy to understand, and it addresses several of the significant challenges to the doctrines of Scripture. Many readers will want to read more, will be unsatisfied with the brief treatments of biblical and historical arguments and with the short selections of primary source materials. That perhaps is at least part of the authors’ goal.
—Glenn R. Kreider