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4.5 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0310246040
Manufacturer : Zondervan Publishing House|
Release data : 01 November, 2003
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Not for me...
Personally I really don't get on with this book. Arguably I should have rated it much lower, but I'll concede I'm no theologian and these men know far more than me.
I'm bugged by two points:
1. They consistently argue for good exegesis and how we should always seek the author's original intent - "the primary meaning is what the author intended it to mean, which in turn must also have been something his readers could have understood it to mean". The authors do not explain how this squares with what is written in the book of Daniel and his assertation towards the end of Chapter 12 that he heard the explanation given but still did not understand what he had been shown. Reading between the lines, I'm guessing that the authors would argue that one away with the old "Daniel is just literary fiction" (they do state that Revelation is the only non-pseudonymous apocalypse) - to me this flies in the face of what is written in Matthew when Jesus said "So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel" (Matthew 24:15). Clearly, to me, Jesus attributes authorship of the book of Daniel to the prophet Daniel and states that this portion was yet future in circa 30 AD when these words were spoken. However, then you turn to the Gospels chapter where the authors explain that Mark wrote his Gospel first, then Matthew came along used Mark's with some embellishment (they state this as fact, despite the fact that it is only since modern critical studies have been done that any doubt as to the authorship of Matthew started - opinion among academics is still divided apparently). So, this book - to my mind - at least takes you round in circles. No one who claimed to have written a Biblical book actually did and they were all written centuries after the fact. Personally I find this kind of rhetoric really damaging to my faith, why believe in God at all, he doesn't seem to be able to communicate with anyone - so people start making up stories (much is made of Holy Spirit inspiration I'll concede )...
2. The authors are preoccupied with the NIV. Don't get me wrong it's not a bad translation, but I'm certain it isn't perfect.
After reading this book I did a little digging and discovered that the King James Version comes to us via something called the Textus Receptus or Recieved Text (the traditional text of the Greek-speaking churches). In the late-nighteenth century Westcott and Hort claimed that the fourth century church had heavily edited this text (there is no evidence for this), nevertheless the damage was done and the KJV and Textus Receptus fell out of favour. Modern translations tend to use what is called the Majority Text made up of a consensus of existing Greek translations (however many of these are late and none is earlier that the fifth century). The Majority Text is very similar to the Textus Receptus except with regard to Revelation. I was therefore left with the nagging worry that if there was no evidence that the Textus Receptus had been edited in the fourth century and that the Majority Text which was quite recent in comparison had such differences it might possibly be the Majority Text that was incorrect and I had better equip myself with a translation of the Textus Receptus so that I knew what the NIV was leaving - don't be fooled by those little notes that say "the best texts say" or "some texts say" - who's to say what's "best" they haven't backed up their decision with an explanation for that decision - for instance whether at this point they're referring to an Alexandrian text such as the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus(Alexandria was a hotbed for Arianism heresies incidentally).
As a direct result of reading this book I went out an bought a copy of the NKJV, despite the authors exhortations that I should read almost any modern translation but it......
What sort of book is this?
If there is any book modern people need to be able to read intelligently, it is the Bible. It hads had more impact on the West, and the world, than any other work of literature.
The crucial question when you read a book is: what sort of book is this? What was the author actually trying to say?
McFee and Stuart help anyone (believer or not) reading the many books which make up the Bible to ask and answer this question. This helps the reader actually do justice to what the writers were saying to their original audience, and hence stand a chance of making sense of what (if anything) they have to say to us now.
The book is short, clear and practical. It helps someone reading the Bible to get away from the preconceptions and misconceptions which surround any "religious" book and reach a balanced conclusion as to how to respond to it.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone intending to read the Bible, whether or not you have read it before, regardless of whether you are a Christian, a Muslim or any other sort of religious believer, or an interested non-believer.
Excellent, useful, evangelical approach to bible study
The title says it all; but I would stress that this is not a book to read cover-to-cover. I would suggest instead reading the chapter that is appropriate to the part of the Bible that you are now reading, or want to study; for example, is it a gospel, and epistle, a psalm, Revelation, or something else? Each chapter points out key characteristics of the different forms of literature in the Bible, and the authors highlight issues such as different translations, ideological bias in interpretation, and so on.
Thought-provoking and stuffed with useful information, ideas and advice, this is something well worth having on your bookshelf.