Review by Nathan Battey
From the writer that brought us The Promised Messiah, Biblical Prophetism, and The Old Testament Survey Series comes another outstanding piece of Biblical scholarship.
A History of the Biblical Manuscripts and Translation:
Smith beings with a discussion regarding the Bible’s influence throughout history, its preservation, and general introduction to Scripture. He then turns to a discussion of manuscripts, the process of translation, and a history of Bible translation. He concludes this section with an introduction to the discussion of versions, translations, paraphrases, and translation methodologies (thought-for-thought vs. word-for-word). Included with the final portion of this section is the writer’s review of the most popular versions/translations/paraphrases with a critique of each strengths and weaknesses. He raises some legitimate concerns regarding modern versions that the average person can understand and benefit from.
Methods of Interpretation:
This section begins with a discussion of different tools useful in performing Biblical research from the basic concordance and Bible dictionary, to the proper utilization of Bible commentaries. Smith provides a number of helpful guidelines for Bible students to follow as they examine a passage and try to understand its meaning. He stresses the importance of context (both immediate and general), different styles of literature (poetry, history, apocalyptic, etc.), and shows how to avoid many dangers and preconceptions to which many students fall.
A General Bible Survey:
This portion can be broken into two parts: A discussion of the Old and New Testaments. This portion of the book is very a compilation of three others works he has previously published: Bible History Made Simple, The Old Testament Made Simple, and The New Testament Made Simple (If you purchase this work there is no need to purchase Bible History Made Simple though I would still recommend the other two works). Mr. Smith is able to simplify the layout of the Bible, highlight the major events, emphasize key Biblical truths and doctrines, and assist his reader in gaining a working knowledge of the contents of Scripture in a manner that is unmatched in any other work that I am aware of.
My General Opinion: (5/5*****)
I believe this is a work every Christian needs to own and utilize. Biblical ignorance is at an all-time high and it is inexcusable. Smith provides young and old alike with the tools needed to begin a deeper investigation of God’s Holy Word.
There are two features found in this book that separates it from all others of its type:
1- The method in which it is written. Smith writes in a clear, understandable, and enjoyable manner that does not get bogged down with non-essentials, and divides his material into manageable portions. The book is divided into 25 chapters and can easily be turned into a chapter a day study that can be completed within a month’s time.
2- Mr. Smith has been a college professor for over 30 years and has developed this material to teach freshmen students during their first semester in college. Though this work contains the equivalent of a college course, I believe it would be very practical to use in a homeschool setting or daily study for teenagers and up. At the end of each section Smith asks a number of questions regarding the material that has just been covered and gives an assignment to be completed before moving on to the next chapter. If you stick to the material and do the assignments as you go through the book, this work will help and challenge you to grow in a deeper appreciation and understanding of God’s Word.
To read an article with a couple excerpts from this book, click here:
An introduction to the basic tools and vocabulary for biblical research together with a chronological overview of the entire Bible, and the history of it's preservation and translation. Designed as an introductory course for Freshmen in Bible college. Research assignments included.
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