Book review: How the Bible Came to Be

by John Barton


John Barton spent 15 years studying the making of the Bible. This brief booklet (less than 100 pages) presents his findings. He first gives a short synopsis of each of the 66 books of the Bible, and then dives into probable authorship and dating. From there, he discusses how the books were selected and collected into scripture, including an interesting discussion of what was considered “scripture.” Finally, he explains how the two canons (Old Testament and New) were derived.

Barton is not going to tell you Paul wrote Hebrews or that Moses wrote the Torah. His purpose is not to present traditional, conservative teachings, but to bring you up to date on current Bible scholarship, and he writes in a manner that non-technical readers can comprehend. There is no unified understanding between scholars, and some of Barton’s views are his own, yet all in all I think he does a great job of introducing the formation of the Bible.

In my opinion, the book’s greatest value is for conservative Christians! If you don’t want to spend weeks learning about biblical scholarship, but need to be aware of the thinking and conclusions of critical scholarship, this is a perfect overview. Two hours will give you the basics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>