Book Review: The Best of Books

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jer. 15:1616Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)).
Previously, the Christian Shepherd has featured book reviews brief introductions to books particularly worth reading. It is surely fitting that God’s book, the Bible (though beyond comparison with any other book and foremost of all books), should be among the first reviewed. It cannot be reviewed in the same manner as other books, for unlike all others, this living expression of the mind of God may be said to review its reader: “The word of God is living and operative, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:1212For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) JND).
However, there are three issues relating to the Word of God that bear our consideration in this review. The first is appreciation of the Book. Consider the value which Christians in the past have had for the Bible, causing them to endure great hardships in order to obtain and to retain the Word of God. To this end, we recommend that our readers familiarize themselves with the histories of such dear saints of God as William Tyndale, Mary Jones, William Carey and others whose lives demonstrated deep appreciation for this precious, divine Book. Happily, the Bible is probably still the most widely read book in print. Sadly relative to its worth it is the most abjectly neglected Book in the world. If “familiarity breeds contempt,” we may say that with the precious Word of God “availability breeds apathy.”
Why the emphasis on appreciation? Because appreciation is necessary to the second consideration—comprehension. Many complain that the Bible is difficult to understand. In response to this criticism, religious publishers have flooded the market with a multitude of translations and paraphrases (which is a separate issue that merits our serious attention). However, before considering the issue of translations, we need to understand that a proper appreciation of Scripture is essential to its proper comprehension. God’s Word is meant to be believed before it is understood. “Through faith we understand” (Heb. 11:33Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3)). “With the heart man believeth” (Rom. 10:1010For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:10)). Speaking to the Jews when He was on earth, our Lord said, “Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word.... Ye believe Me not” (John 8:43,4543Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. (John 8:43)
45And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. (John 8:45)
). He also said, “If any man will do His will, he shall know” (John 7:1717If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)). The submissive heart is able to discern.
A translation is like a transmitter and our hearts are the receivers. Though transmitters abound, we each have but one receiver. The grand question is, Are we turned on to hear the Word and tuned in to do the will of God? If so, we will understand what we need to understand from the Word of God in order that we may be able to walk with Him in communion and obedience.
Next month, Lord willing, we will take a look at a few significant English translations of the Bible.
J. A. Kaiser