a good book on the good book

I just spent my morning reading a splendid summary of the contemporary debates surrounding Scripture, and I like it so much that I’m going to use it as a textbook for my class on prolegomena.  The book is Ancient Word, Changing Worlds:  the Doctrine of Scripture in a Modern Age, by Stephen J. Nichols and Eric T. Brandt (Crossway).

Nichols and Brandt explain the modern and postmodern controversies surrounding biblical inspiration, inerrancy, and interpretation.  Each issue receives two chapters:  one which introduces us to the history of the debate in winsome and readable prose, and another which presents selections from the most important primary sources on the topic.  Even though I was already familiar with most of the material in this book (the chapter on inerrancy is a fine complement to chapter 11 in Don’t Stop Believing), it was helpful to me to have it all in one very accessible place.  It will be even more valuable to my students or anyone who is encountering these issues for the first time.

I especially like the tone of this book.  While clearly in the conservative camp (yeah!), Nichols and Brandt treat opposing views with respect.  They appropriately appreciate and critique both modernity and postmodernity, both modern fundamentalism and postmodern postliberalism, and leave us with a postmodern conservatism which, in the spirit of Kevin Vanhoozer, seems exactly right. 

I don’t want to blog through this book (I wish bloggers wouldn’t do this, and so spoil the joy and need of reading the book for ourselves), but I will tell you that if you want to understand how evangelicalism got where it is and where we might be headed, then in the name of Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield, you need to read this book.

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