“This Is the Word of the Lord”: How the Bible Became Text and Why It Matters is an overview of the evolution of the contents of the Bible from its earliest oral traditions. Why is it important to know this history? Because the evolution of this text and the way historical circumstances shaped its content and transmission affect how we understand the Bible today. When armed with such historical knowledge, believers can respond to those who insist the Bible is inerrant—and to those who insist the Bible is irrelevant.
Bill Thomason’s survey of the Scriptures is long overdue. In my fifty years of ministry I often bemoaned the huge gap in Christian literature. Anyone who has written study material for any of the major publishers knows the general rule that one writes at a level for seventh graders. Those who aspire to provide advanced level material shoot for an audience of readers with graduate degrees. Those lay seekers of the deeper truths of faith wanting answers to critical issues of authorship, dates of events or scientific and historical matters, find a dearth of readable resources. Thomason bridges the gap between the elementary and the advanced. He says in the text that it is not a scholarly work. If he means by that that technical vocabulary is avoided along with involved theological debates, he is correct; but he has drawn on a wealth of study and mature analyses of fact and supposition of diverse fields addressing literary, historical, archeological, and scientific data to make scholarship accessible to intelligent inquiries regarding the roots of Christian thought. I am impressed with his ability to present so much material in so few pages.
—Raymond H. Bailey
Retired pastor, 7th & James Baptist Church
Former Professor, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
This book is written for Christians who are not satisfied with the traditional answers to their questions about the Bible. Giving readers a fresh perspective, it shows that the Bible has its own DNA, imprinted in it from the history that lies behind it and to which its writers spoke. Thomason gives us an engaging tour of the 1,000- to 1,200-year period in which the Scriptures were written and deepens our appreciation for the Bible and its writers in the process.
—R. Alan Culpepper
Dean and Professor of New Testament Emeritus
McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University
How have these writings become the means through which God speaks to believers like you and me? Sometimes I envy those who say, “God dictated every word, that’s how!” To believe that, I’d have to keep my Bible closed and turn off my mind. In this masterful book, Dr. Thomason gives us a far more credible explanation from history that will compel you to open your Bible. Writing in an engaging way and with deep insight, he shows how both testaments grew out of centuries of human listening and searching for the Word of God. Sincere seekers will find here an immensely rewarding and illuminating study of one of the most important issues in a life of faith.
—E. Glenn Hinson
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
“This Is the Word of the Lord” could not have appeared at a better time. It confronts the nature and development of the biblical text with historical precision, insight, and clarity. Dr. Thomason addresses the formation of the biblical canon . . . and the implications for that process in understanding various theories of biblical authority and inspiration. It is a fine resource for churches, schools, and individuals.
—Bill J. Leonard
Professor of Divinity Emeritus
Wake Forest University
In “This Is the Word of the Lord,” Bill Thomason has provided a unique resource for those of us who revere the Bible but know it was written by fallible humans. By tracing the history of how the Bible came to be written and why it rightly holds a place of authority and honor, Thomason presents a road map for understanding the context of biblical times and seeing the wisdom in the pages of what is a sacred text for millions of people around the world.
—Kristy Arnesen Pullen
Former publisher of Judson Press
Bill Thomason’s passion and reverence for Holy Scripture is palpable in his writing about how the Bible came to be written and why that makes a difference today. What also comes through loud and clear is his living witness to the Biblical injunction “Be not afraid!” Thomason is certain that studying the context out of which Scripture emerges instead of destroying faith makes God’s revelation of God’s self in our own time and circumstances even more accessible.
—Phyllis Rodgerson Pleasants Tessieri
John F. Loftis Professor of Church History (retired)
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Despite decades of battles, Christians still grapple with how to understand biblical authority. Many are turned off by dismissive secular skepticism but also the naiveté of fundamentalist proclamations of inerrancy. Thomason affirms a middle ground, suggesting that knowledge of the ancient world and how the biblical writings developed into the Bible will help us use the Bible authoritatively today for Christian living. Pastors will recognize that they could have benefited from such a book at the beginning of their theological education and will find it useful in introducing biblical studies to interested laity in their churches.
Professor of Baptist Studies
Department of Religion, Baylor University