Part of the movement within Christianity and the modern world is that the traditional means of understanding authority has changed. No longer is it good enough to say, the bible says so. Or at least, there are several important steps between. And at least one of them is coming to an understanding that the bible is trustworthy.
For the Evangelical, understanding scripture as trustworthy means that we need to understand how we got the bible in the form it is in.
This short book (62 pages) does a decent job introducing the subject. I have had a number of people ask me for recommendation about books on the canon. I really have not had a good suggestion. I thought Very Short Introduction to the Bible was very mixed. FF Bruce’s The Canon of Scripture is a common recommendation (I have not read it) but it is fairly long and was written nearly 25 years ago. Many other books suffer from the problem of wanting to make a point more than wanting to really present the issues. Or like Lightfoot’s How We Got The Bible it presents the bible as if Roman Catholic and Orthodox understanding of the bible did not exist.
How The Bible Came to Be avoids the problem of being too long or too academic. There is little here that is controversial. And this is not a useful book if you have much background in the history of the canon. If you are looking for an introduction, this is the right length. It is fairly cheap and it is readable.
It is, however, unashamedly Evangelical and gives the entire role of the establishment of the canon to the Holy Spirit. I do wish that it had given a role to the church. And I wish that it was going to focus on the Holy Spirit as establisher of the canon it had spent some more time on the authority of God. Pelikin’s Whose Bible Is It? does a very good show showing the tension between the different ways people understand how scripture came to be. But it is also too academic for many readers.
For an introduction, How The Bible Came to Be is a good place to start.
How the Bible Came to Be Purchase Links: Kindle Edition