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Book Review: How We Got the Bible by Neil R. Lightfoot

Codex Sinaiticus Luke 11:2
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! Shortly before I read it, my dad read it, he too thought highly of it. If you enjoy reading about Bible history or textual criticism, this is a must read for you!

I just finished reading The ESV and the English Bible Legacy by Leland Ryken. Both Leland's and Lightfoot's books complimented each other wonderfully!

How We Got The Bible digs deeper in to the history of the bible, for example: the Canon of the Bible, the ancient versions of manuscripts that were used to translate the Bible, archeology of Bible Scripture, the methods of manuscript writing that was used--for example uncial which is all capital letters and minuscule meaning small. I found it very interesting the volumes and volumes, literally thousands of writings from the early Church Fathers that included Scripture. The Scripture they wrote was transcribed from what would have been the earliest of sources. Their writings are studied and analyzed for the benefit of our Bible translation.
 I learned more information about defining textual criticism. The word criticism can throw people in a tizzy, they either want to cover their ears or become defensive. The definitions of textual criticism are:
"Higher criticism--- it is devoted to authorship, date of composition and history of value of a given Biblical document."
"Lower criticism---it is concerned with the form of words-the text."
There is a chapter on the Old Testament. I learned about the "Massorah, the Hebrew term for guard the text. They were the scribes who transmitted the text, on the basis of their authoritative traditions. The Massoretes go back to 500 AD, they succeeded the earlier scribes." Five Hebrew manuscripts are mentioned and brief definitions of them given.  
Lightfoot wrote a chapter on the variations in Scripture, and in analyzing and comparing  the Scriptures that were not in the earliest of manuscripts. Most of the time a variation in a Scripture is caused from a grammar or spelling error---for example the translator was in error of a Greek word. There are a few instances where what was included in the earliest of English Bibles is not in the earliest of manuscripts, for example John 7:53-8:11. This set of Scripture is only in the Codex Bezae (which is known for being a peculiar work.) It does not mean this story did not happen, it just was not in the most reliable of early manuscripts. In all, no variant in Scripture changes "Biblical teaching or divine command."
There is a chapter devoted to the English Bibles creation and another chapter devoted to the Apocryphal books.
The author brought out two important statements worthy of repeating in this review:
"No translation is ever final. Because translators are human beings, there will always be room for improvements of translations. No translator can transcend his own time. He can only work in light of the knowledge of his day, with materials available to him, and put his translation in words spoken by his generation." page 186
"Any translation that abandons the word-for-word principle leaves itself open to criticism." page 195

Polycarp an early Church Father

Published by Baker Publishing, revised 2003
224 pages
Christian Non-Fiction/Bible History/Bible Textual Criticism/Bible

Authors bio courtesy of publisher site:
Neil R. Lightfoot (PhD, Duke University) serves as Frank Pack Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. He is the author of several books, including Everyone's Guide to Hebrews.

Link @ publisher:

Link @ Amazon:
Paperback $7.99
Kindle $7.59

Link @ Christian Book:
Paperback $9.99
eBook $9.99

Blissful Reading!


Becky said…
This book sounds like something I need to read!!! I love books about the Bible!