Recommended reading

Are you bewildered by the seemingly unending stream of Bible translations that pour off the religious press? Have you ever felt you needed a score card to keep track and evaluate? Here's help!

Monthly book reviews by various authors.

The English Bible From K.J.V. to N.I.V.: A History and Evaluation

Jack P. Lewis, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1981, 408 pages, $16.95. Reviewed by William H. Hessel, Seminary librarian, Andrews University.

After a short history of the English Bible, the author evaluates the following translations: King James Version, American Standard Version, Revised Standard Version, New English Bible, the New American Standard Bible, The Jerusalem Bible, The New American Bible, the New World Translation, The Living Bible, the Good New Bible, The New International Version, and The New King James Bible. In these evaluations Lewis pays attention to the intent of the translators while judging the texts used, accuracy, consistency, style, communicability, and possible theological bias. Especially helpful are the sections on changes made in later editions of these translations.

Large sections are given to examples, sections that do not read easily and are more in the nature of reference material. For this reason a scripture and subject index would have increased the usefulness of the book. Guidelines for selecting a translation would also have been helpful.

The Gospels

Fred B. Croddock, Abingdon, 1981, 159 pages, $6.95, paper. Reviewed by Richard W. Coffen, book editor, Review and Herald Publishing Association.

Have you ever tried to wade through the books Biblical scholars write? If so, you probably encountered a deluge of tongue twisters, and figured that Biblical theologians all are endowed with the gift of tongues. Craddock's book is refreshingly different. The editors' foreword indicates that the book belongs to the Interpreting Biblical Texts Series, which seeks to speak "in language that will be understood by scholars, clergy and lay persons alike" and which deals "with concrete texts, actual problems of interpretation, and practical procedures for moving from 'then' to 'now."

Craddock has succeeded in reaching those goals; his book blends current Biblical scholarship with an understand able vocabulary and a readable style.

The book has two major divisions. In the short introduction Dr. Craddock explains the need for interpreting any document and the factors that complicate the task of an interpreter. He then briefly discusses the formation and the role of the canon, and concludes by explaining the nature of a Gospel as literature, the special interpretative problems posed by the four Gospels, and the criteria he used to select certain Gospel passages for inclusion in this study.

In the second and longer part of the book, Craddock presents four passages from each Gospel that are representative of the individual Gospel writer and that demand a particular type of methodology. He shows the problems inherent in the passage, explains how to understand the point intended by the Gospel writer, and relates the text to our needs today. Scattered throughout his unfolding of the text Craddock has included sermonic hints like the candy nuggets in a chocolate-chip cookie.

The Gospels is more than a Bible commentary. It is a lode that the pastor can mine for sermonic ideas that will confront his congregation with the significance of Christ. Craddock does not present an outline or write the sermon. He does, however, break up the massive Gospel ore so the pastor has ready access to the golden veins of the Gospels.

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible

Jay E. Adams, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1980, 99 pages, $3.50, paper. Reviewed by James Coffin, pastor, Spencerville, Maryland.

In an increasingly permissive society where greater credence is granted to psychological evaluation than to divine revelation, it is refreshing to encounter a book that tries to deal with Biblical pronouncements on marriage and divorce as they are, and not as we might like them to be. While not claiming a facile solution to the problem of marital breakdown within the church today, Adams nonetheless succeeds in establishing a theological framework wherein the moral obligations of husband, wife, and church are clearly delineated. His conclusions, though ponderous, are exegetically sound; the real issue is whether—particularly in today's social milieu—husbands, wives, or the church will have the courage to accept a doctrine so demanding that it even two thousand years ago elicited the comment, "If this be the case, it is not good to marry."

Church Growth—A Mighty River

Delos Miles, Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1981, 167 pages, $5.95 paper. Reviewed by Michael J. Lay, pastor, Brewer, Maine.

This book gives an excellent overview of the church growth movement and helps one to become acquainted with its leaders and major features and concepts. Its notes point out significant works of the past thirteen years.

The chapter "Its Biblical Basin" is perhaps the most valuable for the pastor who wishes to find sound Biblical principles to share with a learning congregation. As the Word is studied, spiritual growth should occur, which in turn will help lead to numerical growth. Concerned pastors will want both.

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Monthly book reviews by various authors.

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