I was excited to be sent a number of Christian Focus’s latest titles for review recently, and I’ve been working through them slowly but surely. Whilst I was underwhelmed by Sharon James’ book on Gender Ideology, I’m delighted to say that Richard Brash’s How God Preserved the Bible is a really helpful little book that engages carefully and firmly with a really important question.
Brash is a PhD candidate at Edinburgh and a missionary in Japan, and this little book is in Christian Focus’s ‘Christian’s Pocket Guide To…’ series. In around 80 pages Brash explains to us the Doctrine of Preservation – something that sounds rather boring but is actually quite important! There are many books about the authority of Scripture, and equally plenty about how we got the Bible we have, but what this little book does is explain simply why that all matters. That’s where this book fits in – and it is a valuable addition to any bookshelf, in my opinion.
I particularly enjoyed his aside on Bible translations: “The Bible itself assumes that it will be translated. Every time an Old Testament text is quoted in the New Testament (which happens nearly 700 times), it is quoted in translation… Bible translations are not inspired or innerrant. By definition,they are not ‘perfect’. But God has commissioned the translation of Scripture. And he is pleased to use translations in the preaching of the Gospel to save and to strengthen his people. A translation is good to the extent that it is a faithful rendering of the original“. It was good to see healthy humility, in this case, about the ESV (which like Brash I use every day!) and how translations are imperfect. And that is ok!
With such a short book, I don’t want to give away too much in the review. Simply put: if you are wondering about the why and the how of the Bible we have today, How God Preserved the Bible is a really helpful, readable little primer.
For a couple of books on the authority of Scripture, you could do a lot worse than reading the following:
- Andrew Wilson, Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said About the Word of God – a brilliantly short, readable intro to what Jesus taught about the Bible.
- Matthew Barrett’s Canon, Covenant and Christology – a superb, longer and more theological book.