HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: How We Got the Bible: Third Edition, Revised and Expanded
Author: Neil R. Lightfoot
Publisher: Baker Books, Third Edition republished in 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1567317220 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1567317227 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0801072611 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0801072611 (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.bakerbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Lightfoot, Neil R. How We Got the Bible: Third Edition, Revised and Expanded (originally published in 1963; Third Edition published in 2003 by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, P. O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516). Where did the Bible come from? How has its text been preserved through the ages? And how has it come to be in translations that we can understand? How We Got the Bible is a factual account of how the Bible has been preserved and handed down to our generation, providing easily accessible answers to questions concerning the origin, preservation, and transmission of the Bible. It includes a profitable study of the numerous translations of the Bible to help one understand the heritage and origins of varying versions. There are review questions at the end of each of the eighteen chapters for either individual or group study.
Neil R. Lightfoot, who has a Ph.D. from Duke University is Frank Pack Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, TX. This book is written not for the scholar but for the average reader who wants to understand more about how the Bible came to us; yet, it is no less accurate than an academic tome. It has sold more than one million copies during its forty years in print. There are a couple of weaknesses in my estimation. Lightfoot appears to give the same kind of slavish devotion to the modern Wescott-Hort text that he accuses those who promote the older Textus Receptus and the King James Bible of having to that text. And he lavishes great praise on the Revised Standard Version and its descendant, the New Revised Standard Version, but gives very short shrift to the New American Standard and New King James Versions. However, the book is filled with useful information that deserves to be considered. Let me just add these comments from the Preface to the New King James Version.
“The King James New Testament was based on the traditional text of the Greek-speaking churches, first published in 1516, and later called the Textus Receptus or Received Text. Although based on the relatively few available manuscripts, these were representative of many more which existed at the time but only became known later. In the late nineteenth century, B. Westcott and F. Hort taught that this text had been officially edited by the fourth-century church, but a total lack of historical evidence for this event has forced a revision of the theory. It is now widely held that the Byzantine Text that largely supports the Textus Receptus has as much right as the Alexandrian or any other tradition to be weighed in determining the text of the New Testament….Today, scholars agree that the science of New Testament textual criticism is in a state of flux. Very few scholars still favor the Textus Receptus as such, and then often for its historical prestige as the text of Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, and the King James Version. For about a century most have followed a Critical Text (so called because it is edited according to specific principles of textual criticism) which depends heavily upon the Alexandrian type of text. More recently many have abandoned this Critical Text (which is quite similar to the one edited by Westcott and Hort) for one that is more eclectic. Finally, a small but growing number of scholars prefer the Majority Text, which is close to the traditional text except in the Revelation.”