Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Good Reads: “How the Bible Came to Be”



You’re a major Christian publisher. You publish a major work about the Bible, like The Illustrated Bible Handbook. The immediate potential audience is going to be rather small – academics, theologians, and pastors. The material within the book, though, has a much wider potential audience.

But how are you going to convince people, people like me, to buy an 1152-page book filled with academic essays, even if it’s illustrated?

Maybe you don’t. Maybe you do what Baker Books did, and select eight rather representative essays, and assemble them as an “e-book short.”

And that’s how How the Bible Came to Be came to be. It’s an e-book short version of The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook.

Both the much longer handbook and the e-book short are edited by J. Daniel Hays and J. Scott Duvall. Duvall has an essay included in the e-book, “Bible Translations and the English Bible,” which provides a great overview of where the English versions of the Bible came from.

Other essays include how the Old Testament canon developed, the Septuagint, how the Bible has been translated into the languages of the world, the New Testament canon, what we mean by “inspiration” as in the “inspired word of God,” and how the New Testament text was written, copied, and transmitted.

It is encouraging to know that the Bible has more documentary texts that any other book or literary work of antiquity. It’s also both interesting and helpful to know why one text is given more weight than another, how many of the texts were preserved, and what the Dead Sea Scrolls (discovered in 1947) can tell is us about the Bible.

It’s not likely that I would have picked up and started reading an 1152-page book. But this e-book short called How the Bible Came to Be makes that 1152-page volume accessible, and tells a fascinating story on its own.

Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

1 comment:

nance.mdr said...

interesting look at creative packaging