Equipping Christians & churches for whole-life discipleship in the world.

Six of the Best (8): Books on the King James Bible

July 30, 2011
30 Jul 2011

As part of an ongoing series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture, Antony Billington (Head of Theology, LICC) looks at books on the history and influence of the King James Bible.

Half-way through 2011 – the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible – it’s worth taking stock of some of the best of the books that have come out (or have been reissued) which tell the story behind the so-called ‘authorised’ version of the Bible and explore its influence on subsequent history and culture. Other good and helpful treatments of this topic have been published, and still others will doubtless appear during the remainder of the year, meaning it will be worthwhile revisiting ‘books on the King James Bible’ in six months time. Watch this space. Meanwhile…

 

Benson Bobrick, Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001, reissued 2010).

Focusing on the period between the European Reformation and the American Revolution, Bobrick argues that the translation of the Bible into the English vernacular sparked a popular social revolution, helping kickstart the birth of modern democracy – first in England, and then later in America. The democratisation of a translated Bible was itself significant, and Scripture was seen to be on the side of those who demanded the rights of the individual in matters of governance.

 

Gordon Campbell, Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

A full but concise sweep, with a reasonably generous smattering of illustrations, through the history of the King James Bible from its beginnings in Wycliffe and Tyndale through its reception and adaptation across the centuries to the present day.

 

David Crystal, Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Vestiges of the influence of the King James Bible on the English language are seen in the continued use of phrases like ‘lamb to the slaughter’, ‘my brother’s keeper’, ‘as old as the hills’, ‘written in stone’, ‘sour grapes’, etc. In this engaging and illuminating study, David Crystal counts 257 of them, showing how the Bible ‘begat’ such phrases in the English language – now found in newspaper headlines, TV sitcoms, song lyrics, and book titles.

 

Alister E. McGrath, In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language and a Culture (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001, reissued).

A clear and accessible account of events leading up to the publication of the KJV in 1611 and its influence on subsequent generations.

 

Adam Nicolson, When God Spoke English: The Making of the King James Bible (London: HarperCollins, 2011).

This was first published in 2003 as Power and Glory: Jacobean England and the Making of the King James Bible, and subsequently as God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, before the arrival of this reissue. A bit wordy, perhaps, but Nicolson is clearly a fan of the language and style of the King James Bible, and an enthusiastic teller of its story against the backdrop of seventeenth-century England.

 

Derek Wilson, The People’s Bible: The Remarkable History of the King James Version (Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2010).

A highly readable historical sketch, from the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 that ‘the secret mysteries of the faith should not be explained to all men in all places’ to the NIV of more recent times.

 

If you have come across other good books on the history and influence of the King James Bible which are not listed here, let us know what they are and why you have found them helpful.

 

Antony Billington

Six of the Best (7): Books on Biblical Interpretation at an Intermediate Level

June 28, 2011
28 Jun 2011

As part of an ongoing series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture, Antony Billington (Head of Theology, LICC) looks at books on biblical interpretation written at an intermediate level.

Having already suggested some books for beginners on interpreting the Bible (here), the following titles are among the best written at an intermediate level; they’re more demanding reads, but will help you if you’re already off the starting blocks and want to take things further.

 

Jeannine K. Brown, Scripture as Communication: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007).

Focuses on the act of communication between author, text and reader; this is a very good middle-weight textbook overview of hermeneutics.

 

J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 2nd edn. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005).

A very good, and highly recommended, ‘workbook’ type of introduction to exegesis and application – though it tends to be a little simplistic, I think, in its discussion of moving from the Bible to today.

 

Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centred Hermeneutics: Biblical-Theological Foundations and Principles (Leicester: Apollos, 2006).

Written self-consciously and unashamedly from a perspective which privileges the ‘gospel’ and the discipline of biblical theology as a means of seeing how Scripture hangs together as one, unified work.

 

William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 2nd edn. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004).

An excellent large volume, which is broad in its scope. Like the others in this list, it’s not for beginners, but I would recommend it as the best all-round mid-level volume on biblical interpretation.

 

Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible, 2nd edn. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2002).

A mid-level textbook, covering most of the important topics.

 

Robert Plummer, 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2010).

A good resource for concise answers to questions, organised in four main sections: getting started (on text, canon, and translation), approaching the Bible generally (on interpretation and meaning), approaching specific texts (focusing particularly on the Bible’s literary types), and issues in recent discussion.

 

If you have come across other good books on biblical interpretation at this ‘intermediate’ level which are not listed here, let us know what they are and why you have found them helpful.

 

Antony Billington

Six of the Best (6): Books on Preaching Biblical Genres

June 7, 2011
07 Jun 2011

As part of an ongoing series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture, Antony Billington (Head of Theology, LICC) looks at books on preaching the different biblical genres.

‘Genre’ is crucial not just for our reading and understanding of Scripture, but for our appropriation of it for today – whether in personal reading or in teaching others. An earlier ‘Six of the Best’ (5) was devoted to books on handling the different biblical genres in our reading of Scripture. As a follow-up, the resources listed here all explore the significance of the literary variety in Scripture for preaching, working on the assumption that a passage from 1 Chronicles will be preached differently from a passage in 1 Corinthians, that preachers best serve their congregations by making sure to do justice to the nature of the text itself (whether narrative or poetry or letter), rather than squeezing everything into the same sort of shape. Don’t be put off by the word ‘preaching’ in the titles; these books are helpful not just to ‘preachers’ but to all those who want to apply Scripture appropriately for today.

 

Jeffrey D. Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007).

Seeks to give attention to the rhetorical dynamics of the biblical literary types, with suggested implications for preaching, where the goal is to reproduce the intended effect of the text not just its ideas.

 

Charles H. Cosgrove and W. Dow Edgerton, In Other Words: Incarnational Translation for Preaching (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007).

Probably the most demanding of the books in this list. The key to their approach is in the phrase ‘incarnational translation’ in the subtitle; they seek to suggest how the text might have been presented – not just in terms of the sense of the passage, but also in terms of its form – if it had been written in the contemporary preacher’s own place and time.

 

Scott M. Gibson (ed.), Preaching the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006).

A collection of essays by different contributors, covering between them the major genres of the Old Testament as well as some other topics (e.g., preaching the Old Testament in the light of its culture, preaching the Old Testament evangelistically).

 

Mike Graves, The Sermon as Symphony: Preaching the Literary Forms of the New Testament (Valley Forge: Judson, 1997).

Similar in concern to Arthurs’ book (above), but more narrowly focused on the New Testament.

 

Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature (Leicester: IVP, 1988).

Explores the interpretation and preaching of four main biblical genres: Old Testament narratives, prophetic literature, gospels, and epistles.

 

Thomas G. Long, Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989).

A relatively short but significant treatment of five genres: Psalms, Proverbs, narrative, parables, and epistles.

 

If you have come across other good books on preaching the different biblical genres which are not listed here, let us know what they are and why you have found them helpful.

 

Antony Billington

Six of the Best (5): Books on Biblical Genres

January 18, 2011
18 Jan 2011

As part of an ongoing series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture, Antony Billington (Head of Faculty, LICC) looks at books which explore the significance of the different literary types in the Bible.

There can be a tendency for us to read Scripture in only one gear – normally that which we use for Paul’s letters! But the Bible is a literary library which houses different literary types – law, narrative, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, gospel, letter, and vision (and those are just the main ones). The resources listed here discuss the significance of this for our handling of Scripture – learning to identify the different literary types, becoming acquainted with various ways of interpreting them, and making sure to change gear as we come across them.

 

Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for all its Worth, 3rd edn. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003).

A classic, now in its third edition, this is a brilliant ‘how to’ book which concentrates on defining the principles appropriate to interpreting and applying the different types of literature in the Bible. This would be the number one recommendation on this list, a ‘must’ read for any who want to explore this area in more detail. If you’re buying it, make sure to get the most recent edition.

 

Marshall D. Johnson, Making Sense of the Bible: Literary Type as an Approach to Understanding (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002).

Johnson focuses on eight different types of literature in the Bible, describing their main features, outlining what to expect from each one and how to approach them.

 

Tremper Longman III, Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997).

Written at a more accessible level than most of the others mentioned here, this is a helpful introductory book which (after some more general opening chapters) mostly focuses on interpreting and applying the different types of literature in Scripture.

 

Steven L. McKenzie, How to Read the Bible: History, Prophecy, Literature – Why Modern Readers Need to Know the Difference and What It Means for Faith Today (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

After an opening chapter on Jonah (discussing the danger of what McKenzie sees as making the book into something that it is not), he focuses on history, prophecy, wisdom, apocalyptic, and letters. This is the most scholarly book on this list, and the most ‘critical’ in its treatment of Scripture. Although first published in hardback in 2005, Oxford University Press have recently published a cheaper paperback version.

 

Stephen Motyer, The Bible With Pleasure (Leicester: Crossway, 1997).

Previously published as Unlock the Bible (London: Scripture Union, 1990), this is similar in scope to Fee & Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for all Its Worth (above), but even more accessible in its approach. Excellent stuff, well worth reading and passing on to others.

 

D. Brent Sandy & Ronald L. Giese, Jr. (eds.), Cracking Old Testament Codes: A Guide to Interpreting the Literary Genres of the Old Testament (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995).

After a few introductory chapters, this multi-author work focuses on literary forms of the Old Testament, with separate treatments of narrative, history, law, oracles of salvation, announcements of judgment, apocalyptic, lament, praise, proverb, non-proverbial wisdom, concluding with a chapter on the significance of literary forms for preachers and teachers of Scripture.

 

If you have come across other good books on biblical genres which are not listed here, let us know what they are and why you have found them helpful.

 

Antony Billington

Six of the Best (4): Books on the Biblical Story

October 3, 2010
03 Oct 2010

As part of an ongoing series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture, Antony Billington (Head of Faculty, LICC) looks at books on the ‘big story’ told in Scripture.

The resources listed here overview the whole biblical story from beginning to end, and explore its significance for Christian thinking and living. The notion of Scripture being one unfolding story moving through creation and fall to restoration in Christ and final consummation has rightly been seen by many as crucial in shaping a Christian worldview (on which, see the previous ‘Six of the Best’).

 

Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen, The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story (London: SPCK, 2006).

This is one of the best books to explore the biblical ‘big story’ and its significance in developing a distinctively Christian worldview. The authors trace the theme of the kingdom of God in six acts through Scripture: Act 1 – God establishes his kingdom: creation; Act 2 – Rebellion in the kingdom: fall; Act 3 – The king chooses Israel: redemption initiated; Interlude: A kingdom story waiting for an ending: the intertestamental period; Act 4 – The coming of the king: redemption accomplished; Act 5 – Spreading the news of the king: the mission of the church; Act 6 – The return of the king: redemption completed. The book is also supplemented by a website containing a number of useful resources.

 

Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom: A Christian Interpretation of the Old Testament (Exeter: Paternoster, 1981), reprinted in The Goldsworthy Trilogy (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2000).

Goldsworthy argues for a threefold idea woven throughout Scripture, which is ‘God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule’. When we use that as a rubric, we can see God’s kingdom in Eden with Adam and Eve (God’s people) living in the garden (in God’s place) under God’s rule. But, he says, we see the same motifs again as the biblical story goes on, with the kingdom revealed in Israel’s history, the kingdom revealed in prophecy, and the kingdom revealed in Christ. Goldsworthy’s book has been highly influential on some segments of evangelicalism in Australia and the UK.

 

Winn Griffin, God’s EPIC Adventure: Changing Our Culture by the Story We Live and Tell (Woodinville: Harmon Press, 2007).

A large-format book, and not at all prettily laid out inside. It perhaps tries to cover too much, but the content is great (heavily influenced by N.T. Wright) and the ‘workbook’ approach (with learning objectives and questions) will appeal to some. This gives the book by Bartholomew & Goheen a run for its money as the fullest and best of its kind in this list.

 

Ian Paul and Philip Jensen, What’s the Bible All About? Understanding the Story of the Bible, Grove Biblical Series 40 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2006).

An excellent booklet-length treatment outlining the biblical story. Read this if you don’t have time for Bartholomew & Goheen (above) or Roberts (below). And read it even if you do.

 

Vaughan Roberts, God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Story-line of the Bible (Leicester: IVP, 2002, reissued in a larger format in 2009).

Briefer and easier than Bartholomew & Goheen and Griffin (above), this book (heavily influenced by Goldsworthy’s approach, also above) organises the biblical storyline around the theme of kingdom, defined as ‘God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing’, which is then traced through Scripture in several stages: 1. The pattern of the kingdom; 2. The perished kingdom; 3. The promised kingdom; 4. The partial kingdom; 5. The prophesied kingdom; 6. The present kingdom; 7. The proclaimed kingdom; 8. The perfected kingdom.

 

Michael D. Williams, Far as the Curse is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2005).

As you might guess from the title this book looks at the scriptural story of redemption from the perspective of God’s covenant with his people.

 

If you have come across other good books on the biblical story which are not listed here, let us know what they are and why you have found them helpful.

 

Antony Billington

Six of the Best (3): Books on Biblical Worldview Formation

August 26, 2010
26 Aug 2010

As part of an ongoing series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture, Antony Billington (Head of Faculty, LICC) looks at books on biblical worldview formation.

The resources listed here discuss the significance of developing a Christian worldview based on Scripture. Although there are plenty of good treatments of worldview from a philosophical and theological perspective, this list is limited to those books which discuss the relationship between the Bible and worldview – particularly how a Christian worldview is shaped by an understanding of Scripture as one unfolding story of redemption. If you’re new to this area, begin with the books by Hardyman or Ryken; any of the others will do if you’re already off the starting blocks and want to think further.

 

Michael W. Goheen and Craig G. Bartholomew, Living at the Crossroads: An Introduction to Christian Worldview (London: SPCK, 2008).

A follow-up to their widely-acclaimed volume The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story (London: SPCK, 2006), this provides an excellent introduction to Christian worldview thinking based on the scriptural story of creation–sin–restoration, how it relates to the western story’s move from modernity to postmodernity, and how it applies to key areas of life such as education, economics, sport, and politics.

 

Julian Hardyman, Maximum Life: All for the Glory of God (Nottingham: IVP, 2009).

First published in 2006 as Glory Days, this is not a theoretical exploration of worldview as such, but provides an excellent semi-popular and shortish exploration of the ‘worldviewish’ notion that God is as concerned with our family, hobbies, and politics as much as he is concerned with our prayer life, Bible reading, and church attendance.

 

Philip Graham Ryken, What is the Christian Worldview?, Basics of the Reformed Faith Series (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2006).

A short booklet, and a very useful way into the topic for those new to the area.

 

Brian J. Walsh and J. Richard Middleton, The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View (Downers Grove: IVP, 1984).

A classic and influential exposition of how a worldview informed by the biblical story of creation–fall–redemption challenges dualism – the separation of our lives into ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ realms – with some reflection on the biblical worldview in action.

 

Michael E. Wittmer, Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004).

Similar to Hardyman (above) in its ‘whole-life’ emphasis; it takes its cue from the book of Genesis whilst also showing the reach and implications of the entire biblical story for a faith that encompasses all of life.

 

Al Wolters, Creation Regained: The Biblical Basis for a Reformational Worldview, 2nd edn. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).

This was first published in 1985, and has been a very influential work outlining the creation–fall–redemption schema as the basis for a biblical worldview. The revised edition comes with a final chapter co-written with Michael Goheen which links Wolters’ approach to similar emphases in works by Lesslie Newbigin and N.T. Wright.

 

If you have come across other good books on biblical worldview formation which are not listed here, let us know what they are and why you have found them helpful.

 

Antony Billington

Six of the Best (2): Books on Biblical Themes

July 10, 2010
10 Jul 2010

As part of an ongoing series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture, Antony Billington (Head of Faculty, LICC) looks at books on biblical themes.

One of the best ways of getting to grips with the big picture of the Bible is to study the major themes – the overarching thematic strands or threads – that are woven through Scripture from beginning to end, themes that arise naturally from the biblical material itself – like creation, sin, covenant, salvation, temple, kingship, etc. A careful study of such themes enables us to see how the whole Bible hangs together, Old and New Testament, and allows us to draw appropriate connections between its various parts.

 

Ronald J. Allen, Wholly Scripture: Preaching Biblical Themes (St Louis: Chalice, 2004).

Although intended primarily for preachers, others who have already done some work in the area may find the discussion and worked examples useful.

 

Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi, Storylines: Tracing the Threads that Run Through the Bible (Eastbourne: Survivor, 2008).

Topped with a brief overview of the biblical story, and tailed with a chapter on ‘the what, why and how of the Bible’, this looks at several threads: Jesus, covenant, presence, kingdom, salvation, and worship. One of the best (with Vaughan Roberts below) for a beginner to this area.

 

Scott J. Hafemann and Paul R. House (eds.), Central Themes in Biblical Theology: Mapping Unity in Diversity (Nottingham: Apollos, 2007).

A full, academic textbook by key scholars, with long essays devoted to the covenant relationship, the commands of God, the atonement, the servant of the Lord, the day of the Lord, the people of God, and the history of redemption.

 

Jeffrey J. Niehaus, Ancient Near Eastern Themes in Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2008).

More challenging than most of the books in this list, exploring select themes with the added dimension of tracing parallels between the biblical texts (especially Old Testament) and the ancient Near East.

 

Vaughan Roberts, Life’s Big Questions: Six Major Themes Traced Through the Bible (Leicester: IVP, 2004).

An introductory exploration of how the single story of the Bible, told in different types of literature, answers six questions: who is the king? what does it mean to be human? how should we view money? what does God say about marriage? how does the Holy Spirit work in the world and in our lives? what part does mission play in the Christian life? One of the best (with Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi above) for a beginner to this area.

 

H.H. Drake Williams III, Making Sense of the Bible: A Study of 10 Key Themes Traced Through the Scriptures (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006).

A middle-level treatment of the themes of creation, covenant, idolatry, Messiah, law, salvation, kingdom, Holy Spirit, people of God, prophecy and fulfilment.

 

If you have come across other good books on biblical themes which are not listed here, let us know what they are and why you have found them helpful.

 

Antony Billington

Six of the Best (1): Books for Beginners on Interpreting the Bible

March 10, 2010
10 Mar 2010

In the first in a series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture, Antony Billington (Head of Faculty, LICC) looks at books on biblical interpretation written with the ‘beginner’ in mind.

The following titles are among the best I have come across at an introductory level, written in an engaging, accessible style. They all include discussion of basic principles of interpretation (such as the importance of literary context, the historical background of the text, genre, translation, etc.) and they are all concerned, to a greater or lesser extent, to help readers think about how the Bible applies to today. Books for the so-called ‘beginner’ are useful also for those of us who are further down the road, because they often remind us of ‘first principles’, and provide examples of good teachers in action, giving tips on how we might pass on insights and skills to others.

 

Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach, Dig Deeper! Tools to Unearth the Bible’s Treasure (Leicester: IVP, 2005).

A very helpful user-friendly guide for beginners. This is an excellent place to start if you feel new to the area, and a good book to give to others starting out. The book contains short, easy-to-read chapters on different ‘tools’ for reading the Bible, with worked examples on biblical passages.

 

Richard Briggs, Light to Live By: How to Interpret the Bible (Bletchley: Scripture Union, 2005).

First published in 1998 with the title Be an Expert in 137 Minutes in Interpreting the Bible, this is one of the best and most enjoyable ways into biblical interpretation. It has less of a ‘workbook’ approach than others in this list, but has more discussion of some of the over-arching issues in biblical interpretation more generally, introducing contemporary thinking in the area in a highly engaging way.

 

Jerry Camery-Hoggatt, Reading the Good Book Well: A Guide to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville: Abingdon, 2007).

A straightforward approach to different aspects of interpreting biblical passages, with lots of worked examples – from the way language works generally as well as from the Bible. Although still accessible for beginners, this is probably the most ‘difficult’ of the books in this list. Someone stating with Beynon & Sach (above) or Duvall & Hays (below) could move on to this for more extended discussion of methods of reading biblical passages.

 

J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Journey into God’s Word: Your Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

An abridgement of a fuller work by the authors, this is a very helpful book for newcomers to the area, with separate chapters covering the major types of literature in the Bible as well as issues related to interpretation and application more generally.

 

Ray Lubeck, Read the Bible for a Change: Understanding and Responding to God’s Word (Bletchley: Authentic, 2005).

This one, the fullest in this list, explores four steps to a method of Bible study: seeing (what does it say?), understanding (what does it mean?), sharing (what truths is it teaching?), and responding (so what?), all with plenty of examples to show the ‘working out’.

 

Andrew Reid, Postcard from Palestine: A Hands On Guide to Reading and Using the Bible, 2nd edn. (Kingswood: Matthias Media, 1997).

The oldest in this list, this one adopts a ‘workbook’ approach, and suggests a seven -step method for showing how readers can travel back to ancient Palestine, hear what God said, and travel back to the 21st century to apply it. Contains lots of examples and exercises, and is suitable for small groups as well as individuals.

 

If you have come across good books for beginners which are not listed here, let us know what they are and how you have found them helpful.

Future ‘Six of the Bests’ will be devoted to intermediate books on interpreting the Bible, advanced books on interpreting the Bible, books on reading the biblical story, genre, theological interpretation, translating the Bible…

 

Antony Billington