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How the Bible Was Built
Charles Merrill Smith and James W. Bennett

9780802829436 Retail Price: $12.00
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Format: Paperback, 97pp.
ISBN: 9780802829436
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pub. Date: September 29, 2005

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Table of Contents
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From The Publisher:

The Bible continues to be the world’s runaway best-seller. But very few people could say just how its seemingly disparate jumble of writings — stories, letters, poems, collections of laws, religious visions — got there. Filling this knowledge gap, How the Bible Was Built clearly tells the story of how the Bible came to be.

Penned by Charles Merrill Smith in response to his teenage granddaughter’s questions, the manuscript was discovered after Smith’s death and has been reworked by his friend James Bennett for a wider audience. Free of theological or sectarian slant, this little volume provides a concise, factual overview of the Bible’s construction throughout history, outlining how its various books were written and collected and later canonized and translated.

Written in an easy conversational style and enhanced by two helpful appendixes (of biblical terms and dates), How the Bible Was Built will give a more informed understanding of the Bible to people of virtually any reading level and any religious persuasion.

Did you know?
  • The word “Bible” comes from biblion, a Greek word meaning “papyrus scroll.”
  • It took several thousand years to construct the Bible.
  • The book we call Deuteronomy was discovered hidden away in a dark corner during the reconstruction of the temple under King Josiah.
  • The Apocrypha contains some of the earliest “detective” stories on record.
  • Church councils had many disagreements about which books ought to be authoritative (a book called the Shepherd of Hermas almost made the cut; the book of Revelation almost didn’t).
  • A heretic helped form the canon.
  • Debate over the canon didn’t really end until the Protestant Reformation and the use of the printing press.



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About the Authors

Charles Merrill Smith (1919–1985) was a United Methodist minister and the well-known author of such books as How to Become a Bishop without Being Religious, When the Saints Go Marching Out, and the Reverend Randollph mystery series. James W. Bennett, a longtime friend of Charles Merrill Smith, is the award-winning author of several young adult novels, including Old Hoss and The Squared Circle, as well as the spiritual memoir A Quiet Desperation.

Table of Contents

    Preface: A Labor of Love

  1. How This Book Was Built

    Benefits of Reading This Book

    The Inspiration According to Julia

  2. How the Bible Was Built

    What the Word Bible Means

    Strange Ideas about the Bible

    A House with Two Wings and a Connecting Passage

  3. The First Wing — the Old Testament

    The Cornerstone of the Bible

    What Was So Special about the Book of Deuteronomy?

    What Is the Pentateuch?

    The Story of the Samaritans

    The Prophets — the Walls of the House

    The Message of the Prophets

    Former Prophets and Latter Prophets

    The Writings — a Roof for the Old Testament

    The Writings Become Holy Scripture

  4. The Apocrypha — Passageway from Old to New

    The First Detective Stories

    Are the Books Called Apocrypha Holy Scripture?

    The Significance of the Apocrypha

    The Apocrypha and Christianity

  5. The New Wing — the New Testament

    The Q Document

    Mark — a Movie Scenario

    Matthew's Gospel and Luke's Gospel

    A Different Kind of Gospel

    Is One of the Gospels Best?

    Why Were These Four Books Perceived as Holy Scripture?

    What about the Book of Acts?

    The Letters of Paul — the Walls of the New Testament

    Did Paul Intend His Letters to Be Treated as Holy Scripture?

    How Many Letters Did Paul Write?

    How Did Paul's Letters to the Churches become a Collection?

    Were Paul's Letters to the Churches Recognized as Holy Scripture When They Were Published?

    A Variety of Writings Form the Roof of the New Testament

    The Letters to Timothy and Titus

    The Letter to the Hebrews

    The Catholic Letters and the Letters of John

    The Revelation of John

  6. The Canon: or, Who Said, This Is the Official Bible?

    The Old Testament Canon

    The Council of Jamnia

    The Christian Old Testament

    The New Testament Canon

    Heretics Help Form the New Testament

    The First New Testaments

    Origen's New Testament

    The New Testament of Eusebius



    Gutenberg Closes the Canon

  7. Decorating the House — Translating the Bible into English

    Wyclif's Bible

    Opposition to English Translations

    William Tyndale

    The Coverdale Bible

    The Invention of Bible Verses

    Nicknaming Bibles

    The King James Translation

    Other English Translations

    Hebrew Poetry and Common Greek

    Recent Revisions and Paraphrases

    Are All These Revisions Necessary?

Appendix A: Biblical Terms You Need to Know

Appendix B: Some Dates That Will Help You Understand How the Bible Was Built

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