Who Wrote The Bible?: A Book For The People, by Wasihngton Gladden
This book is the example of a book written by someone who believes himself to be more conservative than he is, and whose writings more than a century in age remain relevant today as an example of a painful truth about human nature as well as an example of the sort of opinions that are taken as a fair sample of “reasonable” beliefs about the Bible. The painful truth this book demonstrates over and over again is that one will always read a book like the Bible and view it in the prism of our own interpretations, which we will view as reasonable even as we think that others are reading too much into texts. This tendency is something none of us is immune to–we can all see the specks in the eyes of others easier than the beam in our own eyes. This seems an inescapable part of being a human being when we cannot put ourselves properly in the perspective that others see us from, and ought to give us much reason to be humble.
This book represents quite a few notable trends of poor analysis of the Hebrew texts, ranging from an unwillingness to wrestle with the date of Job’s composition given the internal evidence of the Psalms  to the tired arguments in favor of the documentary theory instead of a true internal source theory for Genesis  to the refusal to see any Solomonic content in Ecclesiastes . He shares with Martin Luther a certain tendency to wish to read out certain books (like Esther and Ecclesiastes) from the canon and takes a somewhat dim view of the prophetic relevance of Revelation. In general, though, it must be admitted that his view of the New Testament is a lot closer to the truth than his view of the Hebrew scriptures, largely because it conforms more closely to his progressive view of justice than the considerably more rough Hebrew Bible. The book is organized well, examining each part of the Bible in a fair order, Law, Former Propehts, Major/Minor Prophets, Historical Writings, Poetry, Paul’s Epistles, and Acts, Gospels, Revelation and the General Epistles before dealing with the questions of canonicity, the human writing and collection of works, and the high degree of worth of the Bible.
Yet, as is often the case, it is the worth of this book rather than the worth of the Bible that is truly at question. Rightly does this book point out the problems with rabbinical theories as well as unproven traditions. Yet the author has too high a view of his own rationality, and is especially poor at recognizing the continuing value of ethical principles that he finds backwards, even as he correctly realizes that God has always worked with mankind by pointing to eternal principles even while urging the people He works with to move towards those principles one step at a time, in one way at a time, so that we may eventually be renewed and our nature changed without having to face all at once the massive level of change that God desires to see within us. We may never reach perfection in this life, but the inspiration of God’s Word is in us, as living epistles, and there is much in this book, despite all its flaws, that helps us to recognize all the more clearly the glory of God’s workings with such fallible human instruments as we are.
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