Book Plunge: The Lost World of Scripture

What do I think of this volume by Brent Sandy and John Walton? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

One of the perks of being in the business of having a radio show on apologetics and getting great scholars on is that you can get to read advance books. Some of you reading this will want to go straight to Amazon and get this book. Unfortunately, as of this writing, it’s not out yet. It’s due out on December 1st. Yet if this is what you were wanting to do, then I tell you this in the strongest terms. Put this on your wish list immediately! If I could, I would give the book 6 stars on Amazon.

If you want to be keeping up with biblical studies at all and have a thorough knowledge of what is going on in the Bible, this book is required reading. This is the kind of book I think every skeptic should have to read before they go on about how many errors are in the Bible or ask questions like “Why didn’t anyone write it down immediately?”

As I started reading this book, after just finishing two chapters I knew I was reading one of the most important books in biblical studies that I would ever read. The information was also presented in an easy to approach format and even though I have read books in this field for years, much of the information was new even to me.

LWS (Lost World of Scripture) seeks to bring us back into touch with the historical background that the Bible was written in. The name is familiar to some since John Walton, a co-author, wrote The Lost World of Genesis One. I have high hopes that the viewpoints of people like Walton and his co-author, Brent Sandy, will soon became the norm in the world of biblical studies and maybe we’ll actually begin reading the Bible the way it was meant to be read instead of treating it like it was a modern book sent to us, a fax or email from Heaven as it were.

The largest emphasis I see in this book is on the orality of Scripture. We live in a world after what the authors have called the Gutenberg Galaxy. Want to get information out there? Write it down! (This blog post is just such an example!) In the ancient world, the rule was “Want to get information out there? Start talking!” The oral word was seen as more valuable than the written word. If you could go read a book by someone or else hear someone talk about what they said, the spoken word would be seen as more valuable. (And much more accessible as fewer people could read.)

This might sound odd to us, but it shouldn’t be. Many of us can know what it is like to get to read a book by someone and learn from it, but better still is it to get to sit down and talk with those people and learn from them. I do not doubt I have learned much from this book, but I also realize it could be possible to learn even more when talking with the authors (Which such a chance granted does not usually come in our world) and really get to discuss it with them.

When we treat the Bible as if it was meant to be read more than heard, then we will have problems in our society. Of course we should read the Bible, but the original recipients of the gospel would hear it. Even with the written words, they would still hear it as most could not read and would rely on a reader telling them what the written text says.

Also important is what this all says for Inerrancy. The authors make statements that will no doubt be seen as controversial for Inerrancy, but I think they are certainly true. We really need to examine what it is that we mean by Inerrancy. As each generation often needs to say what the truth is they uphold, so do we. We have uncovered more information than was had at meetings like the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Even saying “The Bible is true in all that it affirms” might not be enough, because there are times that we have to ask what is being affirmed. Proverbs are not iron-clad rules, for instance. They are generalities. Are we then saying Proverbs are generally inerrant?

Walton and Sandy do not have an answer to this that is definitive, nor should they. This is not a statement for just two people to make. This is something that would require the evangelical community as a whole coming together. This would require as many scholars as willing in the relevant fields to come together in light of new information and say that we today still want to uphold the truth of Scripture and give it the high place it deserves. How shall we go about doing this?

After finishing this book, I definitely conclude it is one of the most important ones I have read and so much of what I see online from atheists could be dismantled if they would be willing to engage with this book. So many Christians would have a deeper appreciation and understanding of Scripture if they would read what is in this book. If you care at all about biblical studies, you must go straight to Amazon now and put this in your wish list!

It is time to find the world that has been lost to us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters