That is the title of the book edited by Wayne Grudem, C. John Collins, & Thomas R. Schreiner. I have read Wayne Grudem before so I had an idea of what to expect from this work. For the most part this work is not for those who do deep study of the scriptures or other topics. It is only an overview and not a great one at that. I am going to address the most important issue first, taking it out of chronological order as it sends a bad message to the world if left unaddressed.
#1. When it comes to the New Testament, the original twenty-seven books disappeared long ago, probably within decades of their composition. (pg. 111)
When believers say something like this, the message they are presenting to the unchurched world is that we no longer have God’s word and we are in a constant search for what he said. This kind of erroneous yet naive comment undermines the Bible and the work believers do when using scriptures. Now I am sure Daniel Wallace did not mean to send that message nor do I think that he believes we do not have God’s word, it is just the terminology he uses that can confuse and mislead those who are either unaware of the truth about the Bible or looking for anything to dismiss the words of God.
We really need to be careful when we use words to describe the situation surrounding the Bible for the wrong words also undercut God’s promise to preserve what he wrote. We have God’s original words and he has preserved them so that we are made fully aware of his will and actions. We do not need the original autographs to have God’s original words, we just have to have faith and trust God that he has done as he promised. Nor do we need to keep searching for the original content for we have that already as well.
#2. The historical context includes knowledge of the culture, economy, geography, climate, agriculture, family life, morals and social structure of the Bible’s actors, authors and readers. (pg. 13)
As you know I am not a fan of interpretation nor the historical textual criticism field of research and this just adds to my opposing view. The first thing I saw wrong with that quote were the words, ‘Bible’s actors’. Again, as I said, terminology is important and calling the Biblical people ‘actors’ removes their historicity, their sincerity, their emotions, their real situations and solutions and much more.
The people that God wrote about were not actors playing a game or putting on a stage play for everyone else to be entertained by. They were real people, with real feelings and real life problems detailing God’s real life intervention. The second thing that popped out at me were the words ‘and readers’. The author of that chapter fails to consider that everyone who picks up a Bible and reads its pages is a biblical reader and their historical context is now included in the mix.
The real context of the Bible is that it comes from the divine culture and its purpose is to direct us away from sinful, secular, earthly culture. We need to read the Bible from its heavenly source, not from the earthly writer’s context for the Bible is not limited to an era 5,000 years ago but its words apply to today as well.
#3. The reader should enter the story as if he or she were there, especially at the dramatic climax… (pg. 15)
No that would be just wrong. We are not Abraham sacrificing his son or David killing Goliath but people who need to learn the lessons that God wants us to learn without having to experience such moments in reality.
#4. While not perfect, the long history of interpretation by those who read the Bible as God’s word in previous centuries is still a storehouse of great riches for modern readers. (pg. 26)
While this is good advice it must be remembered by the modern reader that the ancient writers may not have been totally correct and that there is no biblical instruction to follow interpretation, whether it be ancient or modern. When we read ancient writers we need to do so with the help of the HS so that we get the truth that God wants us to know.
We do not blindly accept all of Augustine because he has been hyped as the most outstanding of all church fathers. Even his words are not totally correct and we must be careful that we do not make the same mistakes that he did. To read and understand the Bible, we follow Jesus’ instructions and follow the HS to the truth.
#5. Any piece of writing needs to be interpreted in terms of the kind of writing that it is. (pg. 42)
Again, I would disagree not only because the word ‘interpretation’ opens the door for the reader to import his or her thoughts on to the author’s words but that the genre may also mislead the reader and they may miss what the author is actually saying. We need to search for and consider the author’s INTENT before we take anything out of the passage we are studying.
The biblical human writers were not writing down their own cultural thoughts and experiences thus we need to search for God’s intent for including a particular passage in scripture. We do not water down his words because the genre he used to communicate was in the form of a poem, song or historical situation. We need to be careful and not become too human in our applications to reading divine words.
#6. There is no communion with God without salvation from our sin and God’s wrath. The Bible is the only book with final authority that tells us what God did through Christ and how we must respond through faith to be saved and to enjoy communion with God. (pg. 47)
#7. Because knowledge of Hebrew was uncommon in the church…Where there was no knowledge of Hebrew and little acquaintance with Jewish tradition it became harder to distinguish between the biblical books and other popular religious reading matter circulating in the Greek or Latin language. (pg.72)
And I get annoyed again. I guess the author of that chapter thought that the disciples and their missionary trips did nothing or that there were not those who learned second languages in the church in order to understand what God was saying tho them. I really get tired at reading these type of statements because they are arrogant for one and two, made from an argument from silence.
It annoys me as well as those words tell me that the author would rather insult the intelligence of the ancient people instead of learning the true situation. Didn’t the early church have the HS helping them discern between what was real scripture and what was just religious writings? This attitude by scholars just distorts the reality of God, his working in the church and his followers making them all like stupid little children in need of modern scholars to set them straight.
#8. While some divine revelation may originally have been handed down from generation to generation orally, at some point it was committed to writing to ensure its accuracy. (pg. 102)
Again, scholars distort the reality of what would have taken place as the ‘oral transmission’ may have been done by parents to their children, or grandparents to their grandchildren, much like it has taken place throughout history, yet that transmission does not mean there was nothing written down at the time this oral event took place.
Scholars just annoy me as they do not have the right idea about the past and they ignore God’s commands to Moses to write things down. Here is a link to the passages where God is telling Moses to write:
It seems to me that God had everything written down in order to stop any errors oral transmission may bring into the passages he wants preserved as is. This also gives us confidence that we are not reading altered texts which recorded oral errors.
#9. But even though the original wording of the New Testament cannot be known, that fact is not necessarily cause for alarm…It is also true that a few favorite passages are of dubious authenticity. (pg. 112)
We return to Daniel Wallace’s position and it is a dangerous one for the first question that comes to mind is, ‘then where are God’s words?’ If we cannot know the original wording of the NT then why are we bothering with the ones we have now? How can we stop false teaching and erroneous practices from entering the church if we do not have God’s original words?
We have God’s original words or we would not be able to conduct one church service or know how to please God. As for the ‘dubious authenticity’ aspect, that is an argument that has cropped up over the years because a couple of passages were not included in ‘the best extant mss.’ BUT the criteria for inclusion in God’s word was not restricted to having inclusion in ‘the best mss.’
You can read each passage with peace of mind, knowing we have all of God’s word and none are of ‘dubious authenticity.’ Unless you pick up a cultic translation or some other altered version of the Bible. Sometimes I think that when scholars do another translation, they are actually putting mistakes back into the Bible instead of taking them out. I say this because we do not know the context or purpose of the mss. we use to review earlier English versions.
We just have word son a piece of writing material and know nothing of the person, their beliefs, their intent, and so on, who wrote that particular ms. For all we know some of them could have been copied by Gnostics who purposefully altered the text to fit their views. We take a lot of what was copied by faith.
#10. Yet if all of these were destroyed, the New Testament text could be reproduced almost in its entirety by quotations of it in sermons, tracts, and commentaries written by ancient teachers of the church…To date, over a million quotations from the New Testament by the church fathers have been cataloged. (pg. 113)
I include this quote to provide some reassurance. Dr. Wallace is talking about if all the ancient manuscripts we possess were destroyed by some tragic mishap, we would not be without the ancient NT. We will always have God’s word.
#11. In sum, although scholars may not be certain of the New Testament wording in a number of verses… (pg. 117)
It really doesn’t matter if scholars are certain or not. They are not the authority God has appointed to govern or preserve his word. Nor are they the authority on what the Bible says. Scholars, for the most part, are a waste of time and if you want to grow in Christ, look for a biblical author who stands with God and brings you the truth. That is more important than the wishy-washy attitudes of scholars, most of whom do not believe God.
In conclusion, the thing that bothered me the most about this book was that in the chapters on interpretation and historical criticism not one author pointed their readers to the leading of the HS. They all sought to promote their ‘scientific’ methods, their human ideas and their human efforts in reading God’s word. To me that is a tragedy. if the scholar is a Christian then they should be putting their readers eyes upon God and instructing them on how to follow the HS to the truth instead of what we actually read in the pages of that book.
This is the great failure of ‘biblical scholars.’ They are leaving their readers without proper instruction and guidance in godly matters.