The Bible has a long and rich history in Western society; no one can deny this fact. Its wisdom has brought many people comfort in times of sorrow, distress and confusion. Its stories have spoken to the hearts of believers for generations. Yet, the Bible is also often misunderstood, whether by untrained lay persons or by misguided pastors and scholars. In fact, I would be willing to say that many, if not most people, who read the Bible may not be familiar with some critical issues surrounding its origin, the differences in one Bible from another, the complexities of interpreting the Bible, and the problems inherent in trying to make the biblical material applicable to our modern world.
I cannot answer fully all of these questions, but we can engage in honest discussion about these issues. In my view, a serious and robust faith is not based on intellectual apathy, but grows from asking the most difficult and troubling of questions.
Let’s look at the question of the origin and transmission of the Bible. If we are to come to some understanding of the Bible as a source of faith and belief, then we must also become aware of the Bible’s origination and development.