I’ve read all 66 books in the Bible and lots of other books about the Bible. Specifically, I’ve read many books that talk about whether or not the Bible can be trusted. Some are long and others short, some say you can trust the Bible and others say you can’t. Last week, I was pleased to find a fantastic short book on why the Bible can be trusted.
The book is written by a pastor named Greg Gilbert and is titled, Why Trust the Bible? Books on the historical reliability of the Bible generally face 2 primary difficulties that we’ll discuss in a moment, but this book is clear, concise, and chock full of good arguments.
Here’s the difficulty in books about the reliability of the Bible: it’s an enormous topic. 66 books written over 1500 years by 40+ authors in 3 languages and on multiple continents. If you write a book that comprehensively deals with difficulties in the Bible, you’re writing thousands of pages. And, perhaps the bigger problem is that very few people are reading a 2500 page book.
You could also write a short book. In that case, you’d omit lots of important issues and skim over the ones you do hit. If somebody wants to find a flaw in your book, they won’t have to work very hard. But, people are more likely to read a 150 page book, so maybe you are actually gaining? It’s hard to say.
All that to say, if you want an excellent introductory book on whether or not the Bible can be trusted, Why Trust the Bible? by Greg Gilbert is a fantastic place to start. In fact, I highly recommend this book to people who are new to the Bible as well as those who are well versed in the scholarly arguments.
Why? If you aren’t sure why the Bible should be trusted, let alone considered authoritative, this book is very readable and puts scholarly arguments in an accessible format. It follows a very logical sequence and Gilbert does a fantastic job of anticipating questions and responding accordingly.
If you are into scholarly work on the Bible, you know the longer you read scholarly work, the harder it becomes to translate your reading into street-level conversations. This book will help you do just that. So whether you are new to the Bible or you’ve been studying it for decades, this book is an excellent resource.
Gilbert frames the book around 5 key issues which he calls a “chain of reliability.” He starts with the Bible in your own language and works backward toward the original writings.
- Can we be confident that the Bible has been reliably translated from the original languages?
- Can we be confident that scribes accurately copied the original manuscripts?
- Can we be confident that we actually have the right set of books?
- Can we be confident that the Biblical authors were actually trying to write true history? (They weren’t writing fiction or attempting to deceive.)
- Can we be confident that the Biblical authors wrote down what really happened? (In other words, that they were not deceived.)
The book is short – only 144 pages, and small pages at that. That to say, it’s a quick read (took me less than 2 hours) but far from comprehensive. It has an appendix with additional resources for each “chain of reliability” that gives you the tools to investigate issues you find intriguing.
All in all, this book is as good as anything I’ve read. Gilbert’s conversational style and general accessibility elevate this book above others for me. If you have kids, this would be a great resource to purchase and read/discuss as a family. It will cost you less than $10 and gives you a nice little book to hand your neighbor who wants to discuss the Bible but doesn’t want to dig through an encyclopedia. When people ask me for a book on the reliability of the Bible, I’m recommending Why Trust the Bible?
Final grade for Why Trust the Bible: A+