Phoenix Seminary professor Paul Wegner identified nearly 100 English versions by 1950. He estimates there are twice as many now, although only a handful controls a dominant share of the market.
Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe God has preserved His word. The debate among them is mainly over the manner of preservation and the form the preserved word has taken. Some believe we have a God-preserved, word-perfect text we can identify with certainty. Others believe we do not.
Those who hold to identifiable, word-perfect preservation cite several passages in support of their doctrine. Part 1 of this series examined several of the strongest of these to see what they they actually teach.1 I concluded that these passages lead us to believe God will preserve His word perfectly in a form that is at least potentially discoverable, but that they do not promise that God’s people will always be able to point to a particular manuscript or text and confidently claim it is the word-perfect, preserved text.
Others have examined these passages (and others) and come to very similar conclusions (Moritz, 86-88; Beacham and Bauder, 116-123; Williams and Shaylor, 83-111), and defenders of certainly-identifiable, word-perfect preservation have responded with counterarguments and accusations. Many of these obscure the real issues in the debate and attempt to frame it in a way that heavily favors their view.
Note: This article is reprinted with permission from As I See It, a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Book: A History of the Bible by Christopher de Hamel. London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 2001. 352 pp, paperback. $29.95
Perhaps a more precise subhead for this oversized book (9.5” x 8.25”) would be, “A selected study of the transmission of the Bible, from the production of the Vulgate to present day, with particular attention given to the Vulgate in medieval times, the translation of Luther, and the Bible in English.” Only regarding the transmission of the Vulgate is the presentation anything like comprehensive.