"O Give Me That Book!"

A Man of One Book

By John Wesley (1703–1791)

From Preface to Sermons

To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing,—the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights:—“Lord, is it not Thy word, ‘if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?’ Thou givest liberally, and upbraidest not. Thou hast said, ‘if any be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let me know Thy will.” I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God: and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.

 

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

How We Got Our Bible: Christian History Timeline

 

EARLY DEVELOPMENT

c. 1400–400 B.C. Books of the Hebrew Old Testament written

c. 250–200 B.C. The Septuagint, a popular Greek translation of the Old Testament, produced

A.D. 45–85? Books of the Greek New Testament written

90 and 118 Councils of Jamnia give final affirmation to the Old Testament canon (39 books)

140-150 Marcion’s heretical “New Testament” incites orthodox Christians to establish a NT canon

303-306 Diocletian’s persecution includes confiscating and destroying New Testament Scriptures

c. 305-310 Lucian of Antioch’s Greek New Testament text; becomes a foundation for later Bibles

367 Athanasius’s Festal Letter lists complete New Testament canon (27 books) for the first time

397 Council of Carthage establishes orthodox New Testament canon (27 books)

c. 400 Jerome translates the Bible into Latin; this “Vulgate” becomes standard of medieval church

ENGLISH VERSIONS FROM LATIN

c. 650 Caedmon, a monk, puts Bible books into verse

c. 735 >Historian Bede translates the Gospels

871-899 King Alfred the Great translates the Psalms and 10 Commandments

950 The 7th-century Lindisfarne Gospels receive English translation

955-1020 Aelfric translates various Bible books

c. 1300 Invention of eyeglasses aids copying

c. 1325 Both Richard Rolle and William Shoreham translate psalms into metrical verse

1380-1382 John Wycliffe and associates make first translation of the whole Bible into English

1388 John Purvey revises Wycliffe Bible

1455 Gutenberg’s Latin Bible—first from press

ENGLISH VERSIONS FROM GREEK

1516 Erasmus’s Greek New Testament, forerunner to the Textus Receptus used by KJV translators

1525 William Tyndale makes the first translation of the New Testament from Greek into English

1536 Tyndale strangled and burned

1537 Miles Coverdale’s Bible completes Tyndale’s work on the Old Testament

1538 Great Bible, assembled by John Rogers, the first English Bible authorized for public use

1560 Geneva Bible—the work of William Whittingham, a Protestant English exile in Geneva

1568 Bishop’s Bible—a revision of the Great Bible

1582 Rheims New Testament published

1607-1611 King James Version, the “Authorized Version,” is made


Dr. Philip W. Comfort is visiting professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and author of The Quest for the Original Text of the New Testament (Baker, 1992).

Copyright © 1994 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian History magazine.

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