Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Favorite Book--Handbook of Basic Bible Texts

Back in college when we took Bible Doctrines, one of the required texts was a the Handbook of Basic Bible Texts, by John Jefferson Davis. It's rather immodest subtitle is "Every Key Passage for the Study of Doctrine & Theology." Despite this overly audacious claim, this thin paperback (a mere 158 pages) is a very useful book. If you were to take Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, and boiled it down to Scripture references and cross-references in other systematic theologies, you've got some idea of what it's like.

What makes this book so special is that it is primarily Bible verses (with a few comments here and there), arranged by appropriate doctrine. Any time I need a quick overview of some of the most relevant texts in a particular area, it is very handy. It's also useful when trying to deal with prooftexts; again, you can look at multiple texts on the subject to provide a wider view. It doesn't suffer from the problem I've seen with other books--that texts aren't relevant to a particular topic. Finally, it organizes certain texts as supporting specific views in certain areas (including sanctification, perseverence, forms of church government, sacraments, and eschatology). I think it is helpful to have texts identified for you as providing support for a specific view, so that you can look at them and weigh their relevance to your own view.

It may still be in print, but used copies are abundant (and cheap). Here is the Amazon listing, and Addall (new and used).

One last thing--the book uses the NIV for its verse citations. So Crossway folks, if you are looking for ideas, look no further. I'd buy the ESV version of this in a heartbeat, and it would be a wonderful way to have people sample the text.


Even So... said...

Thanks for the tip; always looking for good reference books, ya know!

Patrick Chan said...

Wow, it must be quite nice to be able to say, "Back in college when we took Bible Doctrines..."! :-)

By contrast, at my school, I once took a class where, at the end of term, at a closing lecture, one of our professors related to us her journey of (ahem) "self-discovery" -- she discovered she was a lesbian!

So, yeah, I pretty much envy you, Matt, to say the least. ;-)