A book review of Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament (Daniel Wallace, series editor).
Last week our son turned five, and simply judging by the gifts received, one would have to conclude the kid loves pirates, LEGO blocks, Star Wars and books. All of this is true; Dutch loves all things related to Yoda, pirates, and LEGO blocks. Further, multiplying the various interests together heightens his enjoyment of the subjects. A LEGO Star Wars set, a pirates books, and even a LEGO Star Wars book. If Dutch has heard a story before, you better not skip a single word as you read it to him the next time. He’ll make you back up the truck and re-read it.
Even for this young kid, precision and accuracy on words really matter. Especially on the subjects that really matter in life.
Same is true in Christian scholarship. Sadly, Christians of the conservative, Evangelical tribe have a poor reputation when it comes to precision and accuracy. Or, what I like to call care and thoughtfulness. Typical modern Christian are not known in broader culture for thoughtful engagement of life issues, for we can talk past one another a lot and embody more of a bumper-sticker theology than a humble orthodoxy and persuasive embodiment of truth. While we’re known for enthusiasm, it can seem a lot like rabble-rousing to some. Of course, you cannot please everyone, but being authentic goes a long way toward gaining credibility and a listening ear.
That’s why I get amped up when I see new books that are worth reading. Whether it’s the latest Tim Keller best-seller reaching the reading masses with solid theology, or some of the passionate and thoughtful. I find a renewed trend in “Christian” being much more than an adjective tossed to the front of religious products seeking a market. Really good Christian books are being published these days, so there’s becoming very little excuse for us not reading sound words that enrich the mind and awaken the soul. (Disclaimer: the book I am reviewing below has a considerable academic bent, and won’t appeal to everyone. That’s okay; sometimes it’s helpful to know that somebody is doing deep thinking and heavy mental lifting, and the contribution of this book will only help the tide of good scholarship flood the shores of culture.)
It’s a common notion that scholarly work lacks excitement, like how documentaries lack a plotline. Yet, that’s not entirely true, as evidenced not only by new persuasive documentaries like “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” as well as in the field of biblical scholarship. While all ‘new’ discoveries are actually ancient ones, there always is a story within the story. The particular field of textual criticism — finding, exploring and examining the real biblical text — is chalk full of twists and turns. How did monks and others preserve the New Testament text so well, even under persecution and adverse conditions? The story of how we got our Bible is only trumped by the crazy-awesome Story the Scripture unfolds itself. Continue reading